Since ancient times, people have been busy looking for the fountain of youth in order to live forever.
And while the idea itself, if you look at it critically, is not very good, the story of how to live longer and stay healthy is really important. Fortunately, science has enough recommendations on this matter.
Five healthy habits
In fact, we all guess what needs to be done to live longer and better in terms of health. But a large-scale study conducted in 2018 has further confirmed this.
Scientists have found that just five habits can extend a woman’s life by 14 years and a man’s life by 12 years. These include: a healthy diet, regular exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy body weight.
To calculate everything so accurately, the team armed themselves with data from two large studies with the participation of American medical professionals, in which a total of almost 79,000 women and more than 44,300 men took part.
Volunteers filled out detailed questionnaires about their lifestyle every 2–4 years, and scientists closely monitored how their health status correlated with a person’s adherence to the five designated behaviors. The study continued for 34 years.
They found that those who had all five healthy habits were 74% less likely to die during the observation period than those who did not follow any of them. They were also 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer.
Tiring fitness and the Mediterranean diet
While sports and good nutrition seem like a pretty obvious solution as a way to live longer, there are some things you can do to optimize both your fitness regimen and diet.
So, if we talk about sports, in order to reduce the risk of death from all causes, it is recommended to exercise at least 150 minutes a week. Moreover, the benefits will be more noticeable for those who choose something “tiresome”. Let’s say a fast run or interval training.
It’s the same with food: while eating a healthy diet with lots of vegetables and fruits, minimal processed foods, and red meat will certainly work, the “longevity formula” can be tweaked to make it even better.
According to Dan Buettner, an American writer and traveler who has actively studied the “blue zones” of the Earth (Okinawa, Sardinia, Ikaria, Nicoya, Loma Linda), where the most centenarians, there are six food groups that should always be on our table.
These are nuts, vegetables, fruits, tofu, fish and alternative milk. All this is quite consistent with another diet system, which is considered one of the healthiest in the world – the Mediterranean diet.
It is associated with a decrease in markers of inflammation in the body, which in turn lead to many health problems.
Genetics against healthy lifestyle
While eating healthy, exercising and avoiding bad habits will obviously help us stay healthy longer, the genetic component cannot be overlooked.
Scientists say that among the well-known centenarians there are enough of those who do not particularly care about their health. They are not that much on friendly terms with sports, sometimes they smoke a lot and allow themselves “wrong” products.
But at the same time they continue to live for a long time and remain active even at a very respectable age.
Research shows that there is no perfect genome associated with longevity. But, perhaps, there is some kind of “longevity gene” that slows down the natural aging processes of the body – scientists are still trying to figure out its exact “composition”.
It is important to understand that much of the research on aging is based on long-lived animal species, including bats, naked moles, and bowhead whales.
That is why, as impressive as the results may be, they cannot be generalized even for a set of species (for example, for mammals). Not to mention, to transfer the conclusions to the person without appropriate reservations.
Take, for example, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), which is likely to promote lifespan in bats, as well as in worms and common mice.
There are studies that suggest that too much IGF1 in humans can lead to diabetes and cancer – that is, have the exact opposite effect. Or the ERCC1 gene, which makes a protein that helps repair DNA.
A mutation in this gene appears to allow some bowhead whales to live up to 200 years, but other species that carry the mutation do not.
Or the TP53 gene, important for the prevention of cancer, nineteen copies of which ensure long life for elephants, but at the same time accelerate aging in rodents.
Cell removal, hunger strike and hard work
Not so much with longevity, but with healthy aging, it seems to us that the extraction of “old” cells from the body can help. This was indicated by a 2011 study, in which scientists were able to save rodents from cataracts, loss of muscle mass and aging of the skin by removing certain cells that “trigger” the aging of neighboring ones.
Moreover, it was possible to stop the deterioration of the state of the organism even in those mice that began to be “treated” on average, and not at a young age.
Likewise, cutting down on the number of calories in their diet will help someone live longer if they are a worm, mouse, or fruit fly.
Studies have shown that reducing the calorie intake of up to 30% increases their lifespan by exactly two times. Sounds impressive? Still would. Another question is how much all this works for a person.
While there is evidence that restricting calories and following a plant-based diet can lead to weight loss and improved levels of glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol, scientists agree that more large-scale research is needed to be certain.
And also, in order to live longer, you can simply be a hardworking and responsible person (although it’s better from childhood). This is the conclusion reached by scientists from Stanford, who studied 1,528 intellectually gifted children from the 1920s until his death.
The original goal of the study was to look at how intellectual ability at a young age correlates with success in adulthood. But in the end, without expecting it, the team received unique data on the influence of character and personality traits on a person’s “tendency” to longevity.
Laughter that prolongs life
Judging by the studies, in terms of increasing life expectancy, it is true that you can get off with little blood – more joke.
Scientists have found that women with a good sense of humor live longer even with existing illnesses, including cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death in the world.
This is the conclusion reached by Norwegian specialists during a 15-year study, in which 53,556 women and men took part.
Interestingly, they decomposed humor into components to learn how cognitive, social, and affective components affect longevity and healthy aging. At the same time, only the cognitive component was important – to joke and understand humor.
10 secrets of longevity of people who lived to be 100 years old
ALEXANDER IMICH, an American chemist of Polish origin who died at the age of 111, admitted that he was always helped by exercise. And not just light workouts a couple of times a week, but semi-professional sports: running, javelin jumping, swimming. He also never drank alcohol, which, according to the man, was also an important factor.
DURANORD WEILARD, who also lived to be 111, believed that the secret of his longevity was 5-7 push-ups he does every morning, breakfast of oatmeal and fresh fruit, and fish and vegetables for lunch.
AMERICAN JERALYN TALLY, who died at the age of 116, had her own (rather unexpected) recipe for a long and happy life. In addition to her faith, which the woman believed helped her in everything, she ate a rich pork diet that included pork legs and ears.
ITALIAN EMMA MORANO, who died at the age of 117, unlike many other centenarians, has always said that her “unique abilities” are mostly genetics. But she noticed that for 90 years every day she eats exactly three chicken eggs, two of which are raw.
OLDEST RESIDENT OF SCOTLAND, JESSE GALLAN, who was 109 years old at the time of her death, sincerely considered three simple things to guarantee her longevity: regular exercise, a bowl of warm oatmeal for breakfast and the fact that she was never married.
BRAZILIAN BERNARDO LAPALLO, who died at the age of 114, said in interviews that his longevity is associated with obedience and moderation. There were also recommendations on lifestyle: Lapallo got up every day at four in the morning, took a shower and rubbed his skin with olive oil. And I also did not forget to find time to train my brain by doing crossword puzzles.
JAPANESE JIROEMON KIMURA is known for being the oldest known man to have lived with certainty. He passed away at the age of 115, remaining active until his death. For those who want to live happily ever after, Kimura advised getting up early, keeping track of their portion sizes, and reading the newspapers.
INDONESIAN SAPARMAN SODIMEJO (“Goto’s grandfather”) is an uncertified long-liver. He himself claimed that he was born in 1870, but the country began to register the birth rate only in 1900, so this information cannot be verified. If we assume that the year of birth is real, then when Sodimejo died in 2017, he was 146 years old. The man, by the way, was a smoker, and he called a large and loving family the secret of his longevity.
SUZANNE MUSHATT JONES died at the age of 116, and her secrets of longevity will definitely appeal to meat eaters. The fact is that she adored bacon, always included it in breakfast and believed that it was this product that helped her live so long.
FRENCH JANE KALMAN was a real phenomenon because her age at the time of her death was 122 years old (and this has been documented). She also smoked most of her life, giving up the bad habit only at 117 years old, drank a glass of port every night and adored chocolate.