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Longevity and Aging Well, Simplified

Longevity and Aging Well, Simplified

 ocean sunset with couple

As we grow older, it becomes more important than ever to take care of our bodies and minds. However, it can be overwhelming to know where to start.

In Part 1 of this article, we look at the 4 major factors that cause aging. In Part 2, we discuss 5 ways we can slow down the aging process and age well.

Part 1:

What Causes Aging?

Aging doesn't just mean "getting older." Aging is a complex process and is influenced by many factors. Here are 4 major factors:

Poor Nutrient Intake

Malnutrition (not getting all of the vitamins and minerals we need) is associated with accelerated aging. Malnutrition also leads to a weakened immune system, increasing risk of disease.

Free Radicals

Free radicals can speed up the aging process by damaging cells and DNA.

Antioxidants like vitamin A, C and E can help fight the damaging effects of these free radicals. One of the best sources for anti-aging antioxidants is coffee (both regular and decaf). Studies have shown that the compounds found in coffee aids in prevention of age-related diseases and even extends life span.  

The takeaway: Want to live longer? Drink coffee.

coffee beans

Inflammation

As we age, our bodies have consistently higher levels of inflammation-causing molecules that can accelerate the aging process and lead to chronic disease.  

Lifestyle

Lifestyle is the most important factor of all.

On a cellular level, DNA telomeres are the litmus test for how long we live. Telomeres are the caps at the end of DNA strands, similar to aglets on the tips of shoelaces. 

dna telomeres

Part 2:

5 Ways to Age Well

Long and strong telomeres show youth and health - while shortened and weak telomeres indicate aging and illness. Bad lifestyle habits shorten telomeres. 

Thus, aging well is all about keeping telomeres as long and strong as possible.

Here are 5 simple ways to keep your telomeres strong and live a long life of wellness:

food

1) Eat Less

One of the biggest factors of healthy aging is simply eating less.

A recent study showed that subjects who decreased calories by a moderate 15-25% lived longer and significantly lowered risks of age-related diseases.

After around age 40, the body doesn't need the calories it once did - it is focused on preserving, not building. It requires less fuel.

The reason consuming less is so important for aging is that it is easier on our bodies. Rather than using all its energy for digestion, our body has a chance to rest and repair itself. Less food means less to process, which translates to better overall function.

The island of Okinawa, Japan is known as one of the world's 5 Blue Zones (regions of the world where people live the longest and are the healthiest).

The Okinawans, many who live past 100, have a simple habit for eating: Hara Hachi Bu, a Japanese term meaning "eat until you're 80% full." 

Simplified: Start by simply eating until you're 80% full (the difference between satisfying hunger and feeling "stuffed")

 bed sheets

2) Prioritize Sleep

One-third of our lives are spent asleep - and this is the time our body goes to work repairing, restoring, and renewing itself. This is a crucial piece of the puzzle as we age.

Sleeping well is the one thing you can do that has almost an immediate positive impact on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Overnight, it leads to more energy, a better memory, and a reduced risk of disease.

Aim to sleep for the recommended 7-9 hours each night for countless of wellness benefits. 

While aging tends to bring changes in sleep patterns, it's still important to keep sleep a priority and set yourself up for a night of renewing rest.

Simplified: Look at your current sleep schedule. See if there are any small changes you can make to keep sleep a priority.

couple walking

3) Move Often

Movement will not only add years to your life, but it will also add life to your years. 

Movement has been shown to keep the mind sharp, fend off stress and depression, improve circulation, promote higher-quality sleep, build a stronger immune system, and reduce the risk of disease.

Simply put, you'll just feel like a better person. 

One study of adults 40 and older found that taking 8,000 steps or more per day, compared to only taking 4,000 steps, was associated with a 51% lower risk of death from all causes.

As you age, exercise isn't about going to the gym, but rather keeping the body in motion as much as possible. 

Welcome opportunities to move, all day long: take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a break from the chair to stand up and stretch, or stroll through your neighborhood.

Simplified: Try walking 10 minutes each day.

Community

4) Stay Connected

Social connections are important at every stage of life, but they become even more crucial as we age.

Consider socializing a wellness activity: developing a social circle has been shown to increase life expectancy.

Maintaining friendships and family relationships can help ward off depression and loneliness, and can even improve physical health.

Simplified: Make time for regular social activities, whether that's coffee with a friend, joining a club or group, or visiting family.

woman at ocean

5) Manage Stress

Stress can take a toll on our bodies and minds, and it becomes increasingly important to manage as we age. Stress is one of the main factors that shortens our telomeres (those protective "aglets" on the ends of our DNA strands).

Finding healthy ways to cope with stress, like meditation, deep breathing, or talking with a friend or therapist, can help reduce the impact of stress on our wellness.

Simplified: Even a few minutes a day of deep, conscious breathing has been shown to reduce stress and increase the length of telomeres. 

Conclusion

Aging well doesn't have to be complicated or overwhelming. Simply begin by

  • Eating less
  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Moving often
  • Staying connected
  • Managing stress

One final note: Aging well isn't just about living long. It's about a long-lived life full of wellness and vitality, being able to do the things you love for decades to come. 

 

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