Nine ways to increase your life expectancy

Oct 24, 2011 by

long life expectancy

Reaching 100

Many different studies have looked at why some groups of people seem to have much greater life expectancy than others.  Of particular interest are centenarians who can be found clustered in small groups in various parts of the world.  Only 1 in 5000 Americans is destined to live to 100 so groups that buck that trend are of great interest.

Scientific studies have shown that as little as 10% of our life expectancy is determined by genes.  So what about the other 90%?  The life capacity of humans is about 90 years of age yet the average American male life expectancy is only 78 years and average female life expectancy  a little higher at 80.  Typically, we are missing out on approximately 12 years of potential life.

Why do we age?  Our bodies are made up of 35 trillion cells which renew themselves on average once every eight years. So why do we not stay constantly youthful?  Well each time a cell renews itself there is a little damage. A renewed cell is not brand spanking new again. Rather like re-recording over the same tape time and time again eventually it gets blurred until it is so degraded we cannot watch it.  Sadly a 65 year old is aging 125 times faster than a 12 year old.

Dan Buettner from Bluezones with the help of National Geographic studied three communities in Sardinia, Japan and the USA to try and discover the secrets of a long and healthy life.  This is what he found the communities had in common:

Move Naturally

These communities may or may not undertake an exercise programme but what they all do is live an active life. They incorporate movement into their daily activities. Walking is particularly good and is known to reduce cognitive decline. Walking places, climbing steps or hills and doing manual jobs on a consistent and regular daily basis is the key.

Eat Wisely

Some good news, as all these communities drink wine. I hasten to add they do not booze themselves silly but they have a small and regular intake of wine.

Their diets are all plant based. Their diets are not necessarily vegetarian but they do consume large amounts of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

They follow the 80% rule. It has long been known that messages in respect of ‘fullness’ can take 30minutes to reach the brain. Stop eating while you have room to eat some more and before long you won’t want it.

Connect

Be surrounded by family and if you have no family connect with your community, your friends and loved ones. These centenarians all belong to extended families and close communities. We are social animals and it is crucial to our well being to have a sense of belonging.   Remember the saying ‘strangers are friends you haven’t met yet’.  The studied communities all respected older people for their wisdom and life experience.

Have a purpose in life. Our two most dangerous times in life are at birth due to infant mortality and at retirement when our sense of purpose disappears. It can be a simple purpose such as catching fish to feed your family, babysitting your grandchildren, voluntary work or anything that makes you feel needed.

Finally, select the right ‘tribe’ to belong to as research has shown that if you associate with overweight people you are 50% more likely to be overweight yourself. Surround yourself with happy, healthy people and some of it will rub off on you.

 

If you would like to hear Dan Buettner talk on living to be a hundred go to  http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_buettner_how_to_live_to_be_100.html

 

 

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