What Is Longevity
Basically, it is defined as how long a person lives. Of course, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I am sure the statistics may have been altered drastically.
“A human being would certainly not grow to be seventy or eighty
years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species. The
afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own
and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning.”
– Carl Jung
How would you feel if you could extend your life by 10 years? What about 20 or even 30?
What if you were not only able to extend your lifespan but also your healthspan?
Do you spend disease and disability-free?
America’s population is aging. Estimates are that by 2050, 20 percent of our population will be over age 65, compared to 15 percent today. The American lifespan is approaching 80 years—for men it’s 76 and for women 81. In 1950, life expectancy had people living eight years post-retirement but today, retirement lasts nearly 20 years!
With all the money Americans spend on health care, it certainly isn’t translating into life expectancy. According to the World Health Organization, the US ranks 30th in life expectancy. Japan ranks 1st. In today’s world, advanced age is not accompanied by good health in the majority of instances.
Chronic disease is at an all-time high, and our world—along with our bodies—are riddled with toxicity from the foods we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.
One grim statistic is that by the year 2050, half of all Americans age 65 or older will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Toxicity plays a heavy role in the so-called “age-related diseases” that are so present and found almost everywhere today and is likely a major factor in our subpar global life expectancy ranking.
Is Longevity Inherited?
Why do we age? Is our longevity genetically programmed or environmentally determined? Why are increasing numbers of people living well beyond the century mark—and more importantly, what are their secrets? Research suggests that, to a great degree, we decide how old we will get. Our mortality is not “inherited” to any large extent, but instead, the sum of our own habits has the greatest impact.
Twin studies suggest genetics accounts for only 20 to 30 percent of an individual’s chance of surviving to age 85. Science has determined that exceptional longevity is strongly associated with complex combinations of genetic and changes that do not alter a person’s DNA.
You may inherit certain genetic variations that predispose you to disease or decreased longevity, but you may also have other gene variants conferring disease resistance—thereby increasing your longevity. If you are fortunate enough to inherit good longevity genes, then congratulations! Just realize that the best jeans in the world are no match for poor lifestyle choices!
If 25 percent of your longevity is determined by your genes, then what controls the other 75 percent?
That is the focus of the remainder of this report. For those not fortunate enough to inherit a fountain-of-youth genome, you can still live a long and healthy life by targeting the same pathways with appropriate lifestyle interventions. And why not maximize the benefits of aging? After all, aging does have some—wisdom is just one example.
Another is the slowing of cell replication, which means cancer later in life tends to be less aggressive than childhood cancer.
Before we dive into specific evidence-based strategies for living a long and healthy life, it is helpful to understand something about how and why we age.
The Grim Reaper Exists—And His Name is “Stress”
As you might have noticed, some common threads emerge amongst the various aging theories. Free radical damage, oxidation, DNA damage, dysfunction within the structures of the cells, and disrupted hormone messaging are key elements. There is one common biological phenomenon that can wreak havoc with all these elements—a common denominator if you will. That the phenomenon is stress.
Physical stress as well as mental or emotional stress exert powerful effects on the immune system and drive up inflammation, a key mechanism in aging and disease. Stress also destroys cells in the complex structure within the brain (hippocampus), which is the part of your brain responsible for memory and retrieval. It follows, then, that a good overall anti-aging strategy might be to reduce stress. And indeed, studies confirm stress is a notorious aging accelerant.
When we’re stressed, our bodies begin producing the stress hormone cortisol. Stress, especially when chronic, also triggers genetic changes, meaning how your genes are expressed. A variety of lifestyle and environmental factors can increase stress in the body. Poor diet, cigarettes, alcohol, chemicals, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, EMFs, pollution—and the list goes on.
Strategies for Adding Years to Your Life and Life to Your Years
Unfortunately, medical care for the elderly has turned into a game of whack-a-mole. The standard medical system deals with each disease in isolation, rather than treating the whole person and correcting the underlying biological processes that have caused an immune system to run amuck. The result is that individuals get “cured” of one disease, such as cancer, only to develop another one two or three years down the road.
Rather than tackling individual diseases, our focus should be on extending our healthspan, not just our lifespan. Who wants to live longer if those years are filled with misery? In order to achieve this, we must address the root cause of illness and aging, and intervene before the damage accumulates.
We can do this by addressing the following factors:
1. DIET AND NUTRITION
2. TOXIC EXPOSURES
3. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
4. BRAIN FITNESS
5. HIGH-QUALITY SLEEP
7. LIVING WITH PURPOSE AND GRATITUDE
A DIET FOR LONGEVITY
As the brain so aptly demonstrates, when it comes to diet we need to get back to the basics. Whole foods with abundant fresh produce and minimally processed food are necessary for optimal longevity. Other than eating cleanly, there are a few other dietary strategies that science suggests may lead to a longer and healthier life. While excessive food consumption leads to metabolic syndrome and shortens overall lifespan, calorie restriction has been shown to flip on longevity genes and prevent or delay age-related diseases. The problem is, fasting long-term is not practical for most humans and nearly impossible to sustain for years on end.
What is sustainable? Intermittent fasting, or periodic calorie restriction. A fasting-mimicking diet offers many of the same benefits as fasting but without the downsides.
Various versions go by various names… intermittent fasting, feast-or-famine diet, periodic calorie restriction, etc. In all versions, calories are restricted for periods of time, followed by periods of eating normally. When calories are intermittently restricted, the body maintains a “lasting memory” of optimal metabolic function. There are even greater benefits if proteins and sugars are restricted.
Many foods and supplements have been shown to benefit longevity.
Research has suggested that berberine can help treat diabetes, obesity, and inflammation, among other conditions. However, side effects can include stomach upset and nausea.
Berberine has been a part of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It works in multiple ways in the body and is able to make changes within the body’s cells.
Studies suggest that berberine has a “harmonious distribution” into several targets in the body, which allows it to fight certain conditions while causing minimal side effects.
Many studies of berberine have indicated that it can treat several metabolic health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and heart problems.
Recently, coffee has been recognized as an effective beverage for healthful aging, especially with respect to maladies such as cardiovascular disease and mild cognitive impairment. Moreover, several human studies have revealed that habitual coffee intake reduces the all-cause mortality in Japanese and several other population groups and mortality from heart disease and cerebrovascular disease
Packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and antioxidants, flaxseed makes for a powerful ally in the fight against aging! Omega-3 fatty acids help your skin stay smooth and hydrated, while the lignans help reconstruct broken blood vessels and skin cells, and antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals and UV rays.
Ginkgo biloba is used by many people in an effort to improve memory and slow age-related intellectual decline, but solid evidence to support these benefits is limited. Ginkgo biloba is generally considered safe, but it can cause adverse effects and interactions with other drugs.
Panax ginseng and ginsenosides have shown to prevent the aging of the skin. Two separate clinical trials indicated that ginseng extract improved facial wrinkling. Fermented red ginseng is believed to be more effective in reducing wrinkles. Ginseng is most often included as an anti-aging ingredient in the form of a serum, moisturizer, or a wash-off mask.
Green tea contains a powerful antioxidant called EGCG that fights DNA damage from UV rays to prevent skin cancer. That means it’s also a potent anti-aging ingredient that combats signs of aging when ingested or applied topically.
Research shows that long-term magnesium deficiency accelerates the aging of human cells, initiating age-related and chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and certain cancers.
Magnesium plays a major role in almost all biochemical processes that maintain life, but as you age, your body’s ability to absorb and store magnesium decreases. In fact, research shows the average magnesium level of individuals in their 70s is only two-thirds of what it was during their 30s.
According to researchers from Penn State, you should be bulking up on fungi to help slow down the aging process. A new study found that mushrooms have extremely high levels of two antioxidants which are known for their anti-aging and health heightening qualities.
Resveratrol is a polyphenol in grapes, berries, peanuts, and red wine that may promote longevity by activating certain genes called sirtuins.
Curcumin — the main active compound in turmeric — has been shown to possess powerful anti-aging properties, which are attributed to its potent antioxidant potential. Cellular senescence occurs when cells stop dividing.
Vitamin E is known for its anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties, but its effects extend beyond skincare.
Zinc has many anti-aging effects, especially because it stimulates the immune and antioxidant defenses against aging and age-related diseases. The anti-aging benefits of a zinc supplement also include cell protection against oxidative stress; prevention against aging of the skin.
MINIMIZING TOXIC EXPOSURES
Americans living in places with cleaner air are known to live longer. Many public health studies show that those who live near chemical factories and other polluting industries show a greater risk for premature death. The CDC’s statistics reveal that residents of eight states (most in the South) show reduced longevity from dirtier air related to looser air pollution regulations.
The best thing you can do to lengthen your lifespan and healthspan is eating cleanly, avoid toxic products, and filter your water and air. Supporting your body’s natural detoxification efforts are also a necessity in today’s toxic world.
TO LIVE LONGER, GET PHYSICAL
Research published in the American Journal of Physiology indicates exercise may minimize and even reverse age-associated declines in the structures within the cells that convert the energy from food into a form that cells they can use. This has wide-ranging implications, as the health of your mitochondria intimately affects every single cell, tissue, and organ in your body
Sustained engagement in learning new skills that activate working memory, episodic memory, and reasoning are important in maintaining cognitive function as we age. Studies show that ongoing engagement in cognitively demanding, novel activities is what enhances memory function into older adulthood. It isn’t as simple as doing crossword puzzles and sudoku—the brain must be challenged with new tasks you’re not used to performing. Try adding a new hobby such as quilting or digital photography.
Sleep clears out brain toxins, and this alone helps optimize both lifespan and healthspan. One reason sleep is so critical is it facilitates the function of the lymphatic system, your brain’s trash removal system. During sleep, the brain works 10 times as hard to remove toxic proteins like the ones responsible for Alzheimer’s damage. A University of Oregon study shows middle-aged or older people who get six to nine hours of sleep per night have better cognition than those sleeping either fewer or more hours.
As already discussed, stress management is critical for living a long, healthy life. Many physical activities have the added benefit of being good stress busters. Some examples include yoga, Tai Chi, dance, and hiking out in nature. While yoga’s longevity-promoting effects have been the subject of legend for millennia, modern science is confirming this ancient technology for spirituality.
We are living in an ever-changing world. Nothing is for sure if we do not start to take care of ourselves. This is our responsibility and we have many of the tools to live a long and healthy life. This website gives you some ideas as to what you can do to reduce stress, protect yourself from the toxins we are subjected to. Alternatives and choices are here, please use them.
Thank you for reading
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