Human life expectancy has been increasing for decades. In many developed countries, we can now expect to live into our 80s, and it isn’t uncommon to live to 90 or even 100 years old.
But eventually our bodies fail, old age is undoubtedly a clear indicator of approaching death. This fact annoyed 79 year old CrowdScience listener Bill, who emailed in to set presenter Geoff Marsh the task of seeking out the secrets to a longer, healthier life. Bill has a personal target to live to 200 years old, so can he do it?
Well some people appear to age more slowly. In one part of Costa Rica, people commonly hit their hundredth birthday. CrowdScience’s Rafael Rojas visits these Central American centenarians to ask them their secrets to a longer life. Then, in interviews with the best age researchers around the world, including Professor Linda Partridge and Professor Janet Lord, Geoff reveals the science behind longer lifespans, and what people can do to live for longer, healthily.
Presented by Geoff Marsh
Produced by Rory Galloway
(Image: A group of older men sitting together at an event, Costa Rica. Credit: Rafael Rojas)
Do green spaces make us healthier?
Trees and plants have been quietly growing in the background of our everyday lives for as long as we’ve existed. Now, as millions of us move into densely populated cities for work, school and healthcare, our green neighbours have been replaced by brick, concrete, steel and glass. We know that plants are vital for absorbing our waste carbon dioxide and providing us with oxygen. Would remote rural forests do that job for us, or is there more to living alongside greenery?
CrowdScience listener Enrica from Italy thinks there is. She loves walking along the verdant riverbank near her home after a hard week at work. It makes her feel better, and she wants to know why. Which as it turns out, is a question that scientists across the globe are also trying to answer. The work they’ve done so far has been enough to convince governments around the world that it is worth investing taxpayer’s money in urban planting schemes.
One scheme is in Milan, Italy. Home to Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic “The Last Supper” and the San Siro, home of AC Milan, Inter Milan and the largest football stadium in Italy. But city officials have been working hard to increase the city’s the green features, committing to planting 3 million trees and building twenty new parks by 2030.
CrowdScience presenter Anand Jagatia visits Milan’s innovative Bosco Verticale - a vertical forest planted on two tower blocks and discovers that research is showing that greener cities could help those living there by providing spaces for daily physical activity. It’s hoped they could also provide cooling microclimates to reduce the dangers of summer heat, and improve our mental health.
(Photo: Tree lined "tunnel" in the English countryside of West Sussex. Credit: Getty Images)
Is a vegan diet better for your health?
The number of vegans is on the rise in many parts of the world, with many people swearing by the health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. But is a vegan diet really better for your health? Is there any evidence to show that vegans are likely to live longer? And what about the new, highly processed meat analogues becoming increasingly available in supermarkets and restaurants menus? They look, feel and taste just like meat products but what affect are they having on our health? To find out more, presenter Anand Jagatia talks to the experts and joins listener Samantha in following a vegan diet.
Presenter Anand Jagatia
Produced by Caroline Steel for the BBC World Service
(Photo: Healthy vegan food with herbs and spices. Credit: Getty Images)
Could I learn to think like Sherlock Holmes?
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous fictional detective is renowned for his feats of memory, his observational capacity, tireless energy and an almost supernatural ability to solve the most perplexing crimes from seemingly unconnected facts.
CrowdScience listener Asghar wants to know whether the way Sherlock Holmes solves crimes goes beyond fiction. What does science have to say about the matter? We pit fact against fiction with a leading forensic expert, a sleep scientist and presenter Marnie Chesterton puts herself to the test under the guidance of memory champion Simon Reinhard.
She discovers that most humans are able to train their brain to rival the memory capacity of Sherlock Holmes. And who wouldn’t want that?
Presenter: Marnie Chesterton
Producer: Louisa Field
(Photo: A Sherlock Holmes hat and magnifying glass on a wooden table. Credit: Getty Images)
Can my migraines be cured?
The World Health Organization ranks migraines as the second most disabling neurological disorder in the world and in people under the age of 50, it is the single most disabling medical condition. With stats like that, it’s no wonder that so many CrowdScience listeners have got in touch wanting help with their headaches.
Peter from Germany askes what happens in his brain when he’s got a migraine, whilst Nika from Germany has found that changing lifestyle has dramatically reduced hers but she’s not sure why. What’s the link between diet, exercise and migraines, Nika wonders? Meanwhile, Judy from USA wants to know if there’s a cure, as her son gets chronic migraines and she wants to know what the future looks like for him.
Anand Jagatia and migraine sufferer Graihagh Jackson take a trip into the neurology of migraines, investigating some of the latest research in headache and migraine research to find some answers.
Presenters: Anand Jagatia & Graihagh Jackson
Producer: Graihagh Jackson
(Photo: A young man suffering from a migraine. Credit: Getty Images)