Can you unlock your fountain of youth?
Genetic studies in people aged 90+ have identified favourable polymorphisms that are associated with extended lifespan.
The most consistent of these polymorphisms are found in genes that are involved in lipid metabolism (APOE and CETP) and antioxidant systems (FOXO3A). While those of us with these favourable polymorphisms may have won the genetic lottery, the rest of us can still reap the benefits of longevity and healthfulness by making healthy lifestyle choices that mimic the beneficial effects of these genetic variants.
What lessons can we learn to live longer and healthier from people who have lived the longest?
Here are 7 elements to add healthy years onto your life.
The obvious solution is to remove any processed food, excess alcohol and cigarettes from your diet. What else can you do?
Here are some facts gathered from people and communities that live the longest:
- 95% of their food comes from plants, which are organic and have no pesticides.
Pesticides tend to kill the natural defences of the plant and its phytonutrients, which are vital for our own cell defences. Plants rich in phytonutrients will keep your cells healthy. Go for all the colours you find. The palette of phytonutrients is vast and the more colour you get, the more phytonutrients your body has on its palette.
- Increase your plant based protein intake or minimise your animal based protein.
Plant based protein digests more easily in your digestive tract and always has a full spectrum of minerals and micronutrients too.
- Snack on good things such as nuts.
Snacks aren't bad! As long as you eat good things and have reasonable portions. Go for nuts and berries and top up with "superfoods" such as Goji berries, Chia seeds, Cacao nibs, etc..
- Add beans and legumes, which are prebiotic food and will keep your digestive tract healthy andyour immune system strong.
Be cautious however; in the vast array of beans and legumes, you may find some that you can’t tolerate. Proceed by elimination.
A non-toxic environment is best to prevent illnesses. It can be difficult in a big city like London for example, when commuting by Tube exposes you to your yearly rate of toxicity! Ranging from Mold to all sorts of pollutants and chemicals. We can’t really avoid it nowadays; we live in a toxic world!
However being proactive, by setting up your environment with non-toxic products is a start (using organic cleaning products, eating organic food, food that helps your body to detox). This, as well as a daily sweat will do you favours.
Do you have a hobby?
Participating in a hobby that engages you both physically and mentally is particularly beneficial.
The baseline of optimal health requires you to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, which is easily tracked nowadays; you just have to carry your phone.
Ideally walk in nature, which is proven to create a phenomenon called Neurogenesis (the growth of new brain cells). For a long time scientists have been wondering how to achieve this, spending millions in research, to then realise that a simple walk in a natural environment was doing the trick!
Another example proves that healthy solutions are simply common sense and not rocket science. Hobbies needn’t be expensive either. Gardening, bird watching and photography are examples of outdoor hobbies in a natural environment, which also get you moving. Psychologist Michael Brickey, author of the book Defy Aging, notes that hobbies reduce stress and provide a sense of accomplishment.
People who live the oldest are all part of small villages who have strong bonds within their communities. Engaging in deep conversation and laugher with good friends is not only one of the best ways to relieve the damage of stress, but it is also proven to strengthen immunity and cognitive functions.
When the body has its own detox system, your brain hasn't. A recent study found sleeping was the only way the brain could get rid of the extra clutter that will impair your brain health and cognitive function in the long term. During sleep, the neurons in the brain become less active and undergo repair. Without repair, these nerve cells are unable to function properly and as a result people find that they have trouble with memory and concentration.
Many other tissues in the body also undergo repair during sleep, and sleep is also important for proper hormone balance. Aim for 7-8 hours sleep per night. With our current hectic lifestyle, it’s sometimes tricky during the week, therefore sleeping an extra hour or two on the weekends can help make up some of this deficit.
A Positive Outlook
Being grateful of what you have, no matter your circumstances, will shift your mindset to a more positive outlook. A positive outlook will generate happier thoughts and feelings, which will positively influence your behaviour. Spending time with like-minded people who have a positive outlook will put you on the right path to a healthier lifestyle and healthy ageing.
Whether you have food intolerances or a genetic predisposition you should be aware of, it’simportant you adjust your lifestyle, diet and environment to your physiology. Knowing yourself will definitely give you an extra edge in healthy ageing.
Step out of your comfort zone, implement new habits in your lifestyle and see results. Remember, there is no rush; this isn't about a quick fix, but improving your health bit by bit over time.
Get started now on the right track! Find out what your genetic health tells you and learn what you can do about it.
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