Through exercise, a plant-based diet and promoting mental wellness, you can work towards a healthier and longer life
After a year of sitting still in quarantine, overeating and constant stress, it's time to reclaim your health and extend your longevity. Spring into action now and in three short months, you will see enormous rewards.
This plan, which weaves together nutritional upgrades, physical activity, emotional calming and cultivating happiness, will actually alter some genes, as well as your gut biome, hormones and neurotransmitters. The result is a reduction in your risk for cancer, heart disease, sexual dysfunction, dementia, diabetes and other chronic, non-communicable disorders. You'll live longer and healthier — a combo you always want to achieve!
One of the most far-reaching and least obvious ways exercise extends longevity is by causing epigenetic changes — that's the turning on and off of certain genes. As a result, tumors are suppressed and cancer-promoting genes are turned off.
Exercise also modifies how your body metabolizes fat, offering you protection from clogged arteries, heart attack and stroke. And it dispels chronic stress — tamping down inflammation and the associated risk for diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, brain fog and depression.
Exercise also improves sleep by reducing levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. That lowers your risk for hypertension, diabetes, and obesity — and, yes, a shorter life expectancy. Three cross-sectional epidemiological studies that lasted six to 14 years show that sleeping five hours or less a night increases your risk of death by roughly 15%.
In addition, strength-training exercises promote bone health and help you retain muscle mass and tone as you age — linchpins of increased longevity.
Your Goal: 10,000 steps a day, or the equivalent + two or three 20-30-minute strength-training sessions each week.
A plant-based healthy diet can protect and improve your gut biome, which influences not only blood glucose levels, bodily inflammation and absorption of nutrients, it directly impacts your immune strength, cancer risk and mood. Avoiding all ultra-processed foods, red and processed meats and sugar- and syrup-added products can defeat chronic illnesses like diabetes and ease depression.
Your Goal: Five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, lean proteins from fatty fish and skinless poultry (if you eat meats), no added sugars or syrups, and only 100% whole grains.
Longevity depends on emotional and mental wellbeing, as well as physical health. A 19-year Canadian study found life expectancy was seven to 18 years longer for depression-free folks than for those who were depressed.
Adopting meditation, yoga and/or deep breathing can improve mental and physical health. One study found that after about 7.5 to 19 years, folks who practiced transcendental meditation were 23% less likely to die of any cause, 30% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease, and 49% less likely to die of cancer during the follow-up period.
In addition, volunteering to help others boosts mental and physical health. One study found 89% of volunteers felt it "has improved my sense of well-being," and 77% that it "improves emotional health." Other studies show giving to others is associated with immune strength, as well as avoidance of disability.
Your Goal: Ten minutes of meditation, morning and evening; volunteering at least three hours a week.
One day, according to a new study by researchers at AgeX Therapeutics, it may be possible to influence how your genes that are related to aging are expressed, and healthy tissue may be able to be regenerated when it is damaged or lost over time or through illness. That would greatly reduce the risk of premature aging and cancer genes could be short-circuited before they light up. But until then (and even after that) spring into action! Nothing feels as good as taking charge of—and improving—your health and happiness!