Showing posts with label longevity research. Show all posts
Showing posts with label longevity research. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How to Live Longer - Add Years to Your Life!

No one knows how long they will live.  There are no guarantees that anything you do will absolutely assure you will live to be 100 years old. However, research indicates your genetics account for only about 25 percent of your longevity.  The rest is up to you.  There are definite actions you can take which make it much more likely you will add years to your life.

In an article called "50 Great Ways to Live Longer" published in the March, 2017 issue of the AARP Bulletin, scientific and government studies helped them compile a list of proven tips for increasing the length of your life.  Not all of the AARP suggestions are listed in this post.  When I read the list, some of their tips seemed to correlate to a longer life, but may not have been the cause of it.  For example, there is a correlation between living in California, New York or Vermont and having a longer life, especially if you have a low income.  Conversely, if you live in Nevada, Indiana or Oklahoma, your life expectancy could be much lower.  However, that does not mean your state of residence is actually the cause of why some people live longer than others.  Individuals can live either a long life or short life in any state, depending on their personal lifestyle.

While there are no guarantees in life, it is still worthwhile to follow the suggestions listed below.  They are based on scientific research and could make a tremendous difference in the length of your life, as well as how much you enjoy living those extra years.

Tips for a Longer Life

1.  Take Extra Vitamin D - The amount should be based on a blood test, but Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to a variety of health problems which you can easily avoid.

2.  Avoid painkillers - Only take the minimum amount or eliminate them completely.  This includes both prescription and over-the-counter painkillers.

3.  Get at least six hours of sleep a night - It will cut your risk of heart disease and strokes.  Try to get seven or eight hours of sleep, if possible.  It will make your health and life better in a number of ways.  It may even make it easier to maintain a healthy weight.

4.  Have frequent sex - It has been shown to not only increase the length of your life, but your enjoyment, as well. 

5.  Get married - Married people, especially men, have a lower risk of heart disease.  Of course, if you are in an abusive or miserable marriage, this suggestion may not work for you.

6.  Eat a healthy diet - Research shows the right diet for longevity includes fully ripened fruit, coffee, green tea, vegetables, whole grains, whole milk, olive oil, fish, nuts, spices and plenty of water.  You should also reduce your consumption of added sugar and alcohol.  While you're at it, take care to prevent food poisoning when preparing your meals.  Keep your work surfaces clean, separate meat and vegetables, wash your hands and refrigerate ingredients which could spoil.

7. Find a purpose in life - You may find your purpose in volunteer activities, helping your family, attending religious services or becoming involved in anything else which is meaningful to you.  Having a purpose can add years to your life; it can also make you look forward to getting up each day.

8.  Lead a generally healthy life - We have all heard most of it before. Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise daily (including walking and climbing stairs, if you can), read books, get a flu shot and find a woman doctor (statistically, they have better outcomes).  In addition, monitor your own health and see your doctor if any aspect of your health changes, such as unexpected weight-loss, unusual fatigue, bleeding, or changes to the skin.

9.  Fill your life with friends and love - Socialize frequently with friends, get a pet, spend time with the grandkids, and forgive your family for past hurts.

10.  Practice safety - There is no point to eating right if you die from an accident.  Accept the fact that auto accidents are higher for people over the age of 70 and are exceptionally high for those over 85.  Among the safety steps you should take are:  drive less as you age, avoid distractions while you are behind the wheel, be careful walking across a street (even in crosswalks), make sure your home has fire and radon detectors, and remove anything in your house, such as rugs, which could contribute to a fall. Do not store items on high shelves where you would be tempted to stand on a chair or stool to reach them.

If you follow the steps above, you are much more likely to live a long life.  In addition, your quality of life is likely to be better.  That alone makes these suggestions worthwhile.

Are you interested in more information about common medical issues as you age, where to retire, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare or more?  Use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

Watch for my book, "Retirement Awareness: 10 Steps to a Comfortable Retirement," which is scheduled to be published by Griffin Publishing in 2018.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Longevity Tips from Time Magazine

In the Feb. 22, 2016 issue of Time Magazine, the editors devoted an entire section to longevity and and how to age well.  While I recommend that people read the entire issue, I also wanted to summarize their major findings in this article.

In the past, this blog has covered a number of longevity discoveries, including the findings of the University of California - Irvine 90+ Study ... which has been going on for more than three decades.

Researchers continue to learn new things about why some people are able to live decades longer than their counterparts, as well as why some of the elderly seem to escape many of the physical and mental health issues related to aging.  Below is a summary of recent findings from the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Sightlines Project, both of which were cited in the Time Magazine article.

Longevity Tips from Time Magazine

As most of us have always suspected, having good genes is the reason why at least some people manage to live long lives despite bad behavior.  Dr. Nir Barzilai, the director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, studied a group of 500 long-lived Jews who had a mean age of 97.3.  Over 50 percent of the group was either overweight or obese;  60 percent of the men and 30 percent of the women had been heavy smokers at some time in their life; only half said they did even moderate exercise.  What Dr. Barzilai's group discovered was that these subjects had two gene sequences that reduced their bad cholesterol and raised their good cholesterol. They also seemed to obtain other health and longevity benefits from these special gene sequences. 

Fortunately, for those of us who do not have these powerful gene sequences, there are still actions we can take that will significantly increase the odds that we, too, can live a long life.

Our diets are extremely important.  One approach to a long life is to cut the number of calories you eat by 25 percent.  That action alone will lower your blood pressure and cholesterol a small amount.  However, it will also cut you C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker linked to heart disease, by 47 percent.  For those who have read the University of California-Irvine 90+ Study, this may seem to fly in the face of their research that shows that people tend to live longer when they weigh up to 10 percent over their "ideal" weight when they are in their 70s.  Some of this could be attributed to the fact that many of the people who live to be in their 90s are the ones who have those special gene sequences. 

Occasional fasting also lowers the risk factors for age-related diseases, according to the Time Magazine article.  In a study performed on mice, a low-calorie and low-protein fasting diet improved their metabolism, slowed down bone loss, and improved cognitive function.  The mice also developed cancer at a lower rate and lived longer lives.  When people were put on a similar fasting plan for five days a week, they got similar results including lower rates of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.  The periodic fasting diet also lowered their blood sugar levels, as well as levels of the growth hormone IGF-1, which is believed to accelerate aging.

Reduce your protein consumption so that only 10 percent of your calories come from protein.  People who get 20 percent or more of their calories from protein have a 400 percent increase in cancer risk compared to people who only get 10 percent of their calories from protein.

Another advantage of fasting is that it appears to flush bad cells from the body and spurs the generation of new stem cells.  The new cells replace the lost cells and rejuvenate the body.

Lower your inflammation levels by eating a diet rich in plants and omega-3 fatty acids.  Inflammation is believed to be the culprit in comorbidity, which means having more than one disease.  Meditation and regular exercise can also reduce inflammation and your risk of comorbidity.

Move a little more.  Researchers have discovered that just moving around a little bit during the day is enough to lower your risk of a heart event.  In addition, moving more also helps older people keep their mobility.  Sitting all day is a risk factor for an earlier death.  It can contribute to Type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease ... even for those people who get regular exercise.  It is actually more important that the elderly get out of their chairs and fidget, do chores around the house, take a walk and engage in other easy activities than it is to take an exercise class, if all they do is sit in a chair the remainder of the day.

Manage your stress, cultivate a positive outlook about aging, and reduce feelings of anger and resentment.  All of these actions contribute to a longer, healthier life.  The elderly see positive improvements in their health, resilience and mental acuity when they practice mindful meditation.  It is believed that it actually slows biological aging by stabilizing telomeres.  What are telomeres?  They are defined as "The disposable buffers at the ends of chromosomes which are truncated during cell division; their presence protects the genes before them on the chromosome from being truncated instead. Over time, due to each cell division, the telomere ends become shorter." (Wikipedia)  The bottom line is that the shorter your telomeres, the less time you have left to live.  Anything that slows down their deterioration or stabilizes them, such as meditation, will extend your life.

As you can see from the list above, most of the above behavioral changes involve being aware of what you eat.  The other two were simply taking the time to move around your house as much as possible, and spending a little time each day in meditation.  While not everyone can have the magic gene sequence mentioned at the top of the article, nearly anyone can learn how to manage their own lives.


Time Magazine, Feb. 22, 2016:

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