Do You Want To Live Longer?

by Stephen Mills on July 24, 2010

Test Tubes

Surveys show most people do, but only a little bit longer.  75% do not wish to live to 100 and very few want to live to 120 even if that were possible.  I am among the minority who want to live as long as is possible.

I think the key is where the emphasis lies; whether it is on the word live or on the word longer.  People are concerned about quality of life in old age; things like losing their health, losing their mind, and losing their ability to live independently.  I don’t want to live like that either.  Those humans who live to a very advanced age, like the current record holder Jeanne Calmet who died in 1997 at the age of 122, don’t just live longer; they age slower.  They stay healthy, vibrant, alert, and independent into advanced ages.  Jeanne was still riding her bicycle at 100,  a good 20 years after the average woman has already died.

Researchers are beginning to understand the mechanisms of aging and this makes it very likely they will uncover ways to slow it down; anti-aging drugs for example.  At the end of this article I will list some natural substances that may affect gene expression and offer promising possibilities while research continues.

The Naked Mole Rat

The naked mole rat is an interesting creature when it comes to aging.  First of all, they are very long-lived for animals of their type and size.  But even more interesting, is that they don’t seem to show signs of aging.  They live healthy and active lives into their third decade and then often just drop dead with no obvious cause.  That is the way I want to do it. That’s the kind of aging that I think most people want, and while it is not likely we will be able to achieve it exactly, I certainly believe we can age much more gracefully than we do now.

Genes

Experts currently believe that the way we age is about 1/3 genetic and about 2/3 lifestyle.  Jeanne Calmet obviously was dealt a very good genetic hand and that is likely the case for about all people who get past 100.  About twenty years ago I told my doctor that I was concerned about my low body temperature and that maybe it was the sign of some metabolic problem.  He told me the only thing I had to worry about was a long life because low body temperature was found in many long-lived men.  I have since learned the other common biomarker is low insulin levels.

There is a known correlation between versions of the APoE gene and longevity.  Various alleles are also known to be positively or negatively correlated with heart disease and neurological disease like Alzheimer’s.  There are a set of genes called SIRT that are likely involved in aging.  Given the complexity of human disease and aging there are likely many, many genes involved.

Lifestyle

Regardless of your genetic makeup, most people can significantly impact the way they age through lifestyle choices.  Most of the major disease of aging like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and bone loss are significantly impacted by lifestyle.  Just as importantly it also appears that loss of physical and mental function are just as sensitive to lifestyle choices as disease.

In a nutshell for physical health:

  • Eat a low calorie diet
  • Eat natural foods rather than man-made or processed foods
  • Get most of your carbohydrates from low-glycemic fruits and vegetables
  • Raw is better than cooked, because cooking destroys enzymes
  • Get plenty of protein but try to avoid too much grain-fed meat; grass-fed and free-range are best
  • Eat nuts and berries which are loaded with phyto-nutrients and antioxidants
  • Eat plenty of the good fats from small fish, olive, coconut, and canola oils, nuts, and seeds
  • Restrict sodium intake
  • Supplement with non-contaminated fish oils, potassium (you don’t get enough), vitamin D (if you don’t get sunshine), selenium, and a good all-around vitamin and mineral mix.  I recommend Life Extension Mix as I think it is unparalleled and is much cheaper than all the ingredients separately.
  • Move, don’t sit.  The human body is made to walk and move so walk and move as much as you can.
  • Strengthen your muscles as muscular atrophy is the main reason for loss of physical function as you age
  • Increase your maximum heart and lung capacity by short bursts of intense activity followed by rest.  This is something like interval training but it consists of very intense intervals.  Maximum heart and lung capacity are correlated with mortality.  Constant aerobic activity does not increase maximum capacities and is less beneficial.

In a nutshell for brain health:

  • Do everything listed in physical health because your brain is part of your physical body.
  • It appears in the case of brain health, sustained aerobic activity increases nerve growth and reduces age-related loss of brain matter.
  • All forms of exercise, including strength training, seem to protect brain health
  • Be socially active.  For whatever reason, it appears that maintaining an active social life (friends and family), confers a strong protective effect on the brain function.
  • Cognitive exercise unambiguously reduces the risk and amount of cognitive decline associated with aging.  Combining cognitive activities in a social setting seems particularly helpful (playing bridge with friends for example).

Calorie Restriction

If there is any universally agreed upon way to extend life-span and enjoy healthy aging, it is calorie restriction.  Calorie restriction is a semi-starvation diet that amounts to eating 30% fewer calories than you would normally eat to maintain weight.  There is recent evidence that an alternate day calorie restricted diet in which every other day you eat 50% fewer calories may also provide the same benefit.  There is a lot of research going on right now to uncover what genes or other processes are being activated in calorie restriction.  Some genes known as SIRT are prime candidates.  The goal is to come up with a way to mimic the effects of calorie restriction without having to half-starve yourself.

Anti-Aging Nutrients

Resveratrol

Resveratrol may be a miracle molecule.  It is found in grapes and peanuts.  There are indications it has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-viral, neuro-protective, and cardio-protective effects.  It can reduce both insulin and blood glucose, which are both markers for improved health and longevity.  It seems to dramatically increase physical endurance if given in high enough doses.  It is believed to be an activator of the SIRT longevity genes.

How much humans need to trigger these effects is disputed as is almost anything new.  It may be more potent in sub-lingual form so it can be absorbed into the blood stream without being metabolized.  Twinlab vitamins has just introduced a sub-lingual version.  I am not waiting for further studies to get more evidence and judging from the shelves at vitamin shops neither are a lot of other people.  It appears to be perfectly safe in massive doses far exceeding what anyone takes.

Quercetin

Quercetin has gotten a lot less attention, but it may also be another potent activator of the SIRT genes.  There are many promising indications of various benefits in initial studies of this substance.  It is found any many plants that are good for you like tea, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, onions, and apples.

Fisetin

Fisetin is another activator of the SIRT genes and is found in strawberries.  Some studies have shown it to be synergistic with resveratrol.

CR Mimetic Longevity Formula contains all three of these nutrients and more.

What do YOU think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Earl July 24, 2010 at 11:45 pm

That’s a ton of both interesting and useful information Stephen. Thank you for sharing.

I’m similar to you and would love to live as long as possible, in a healthy state of course. To be honest, I’ve never really taken into considerations methods to help increase longevity but I’m happy to see that I already practice many of the suggestions on your list!
Earl´s last blog post ..Living Abroad For Less Than 1000 Per Month

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Stephen Mills July 26, 2010 at 5:53 am

Hi Earl, with the aging of the baby boomers it is a topic that is getting a lot more interest in the last decade. I’m glad you are practicing healthy habits because most people don’t.

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Chris Beardsley July 25, 2010 at 3:28 am

Stephen, what a great post. I am completely in agreement with the idea of “living” as long as possible. I really struggle with the idea of getting infirm as I age and being unable to do the things I want to do.

I note you refer to “biomarkers”. Have you read “Biomarkers” by Evans and Rosenberg? I found out about it from Clarence Bass (a legend in the subject of getting old without ageing). Biomarkers (and Clarence) seem to hold that the most important thing is maintaining the muscle mass. Metabolic rate and other key biomarkers seem to be driven from that one.

That would also make sense in that older populations seem to suffer most from lack of strength. According to Biomarkers, there is no need to lose this muscle or strength if activity levels are maintained.

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Stephen Mills July 26, 2010 at 5:56 am

Hi Chris, no I haven’t read that book but it sounds interesting. There is some guy who is famous for his strength training advice from the 50’s. I recently saw him on TV and he maintains great muscle mass into his eighties. He seems exceptionally healthy and more than that his brain is sharp and nimble.

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Chris Beardsley July 30, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Stephen, I guess the guy you are referring to is Clarence Bass? He has reviewed Biomarkers (see link: http://www.cbass.com/Biomarkers.htm) and endorses it. Hope you enjoy it if you have time to take a look.
Chris Beardsley´s last blog post ..Workouts for 31 July to 5 August

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Grampa Ken for change July 25, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Nice tips as usual Stephen. At 75 for brain health I make several crosswords per day; the easy ones relax as well as exercise the brain. Cycling the trails and significant hills is a very enjoyable workout and relaxing also if not rushed.
Grampa Ken for change´s last blog post ..Social Change and Life Improvement Articles List

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Stephen Mills July 26, 2010 at 6:00 am

Hello Grampa Ken, I love you are cycling the hills and trails at 75! Keep it up, after all Jeanne Calmet was still cycling at 100. 🙂

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Mag July 25, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I had better get to doing something about this. I sit for way to long at my computer and I get very little exercise. I guess I had better make that my job, too. Thanks for all the information.

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Stephen Mills July 26, 2010 at 6:02 am

Hello Mag, that is a problem for many of us in the modern world. Interestingly, they are making treadmill desks so you can walk slowly while you work. Sounds like a fantastic idea if you ask me.

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Simon Wenley July 25, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Great post Stephen. I am on a mission to live a long, healthy and fulfilling life. One thing that many people overlook when they are thinking about practical things they can do for healthy aging, is to take care of our oral health.
Simon Wenley´s last blog post ..How to reduce your dental expenses

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Stephen Mills July 26, 2010 at 6:05 am

Hi Simon, I had a mouth full of fillings until most of the teeth cracked and I had gold crowns put on. What do you think of mercury fillings?

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Simon Wenley July 26, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Hi Stephen. You experienced one of the problems with mercury fillings – to place the fillings the structure of the tooth is compromised which leaves the tooth weak, and after time it will crack. I do not place mercury amalgam fillings and I remove them using safe protocols. I have written posts about amalgam mercury fillings on my blog.
Simon Wenley´s last blog post ..How to reduce your dental expenses

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Helen Wenley July 25, 2010 at 11:14 pm

I am on the same road as you Stephen. Great advice here. I am in my late 50’s and feeling terrific.
Helen Wenley´s last blog post ..Healthy Aging versus Anti-aging

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Stephen Mills July 26, 2010 at 6:10 am

Hello Helen that’s great! I took a look at your blog and I loved it. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

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Aaron July 26, 2010 at 12:03 am

What impacts me most is- “Be socially active. For whatever reason, it appears that maintaining an active social life (friends and family), confers a strong protective effect on the brain function.”
I’ve seen too many times, older couples where one passes away, and it’s just a matter of time before the other follows.

I take pretty good care of myself. I like the idea of living a long healthy life. The only drawback would be attending the funerals of friends and loved ones that aren’t as proactive about a long healthy life. That could get depressing and lonely. It’s important to not only make new friends, but keep the ones you have.
Aaron´s last blog post ..Friday Funnies- How to Lie to the Bathroom Scale

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Stephen Mills July 26, 2010 at 6:17 am

Hello Aaron, yes that sadly happens sometimes. I wonder if it because the couple is too dependent upon their significant other and don’t have an active social circle? Regardless a vibrant social circle will surely help with the loss of loved ones and friends.

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Sami Paju July 26, 2010 at 8:37 am

Hi,

When it comes to caloric restriction you might want to look into “intermittent fasting”. This should basically give the advantages of reduced caloric intake, but is much easier to do in practice. Don’t be fooled; your body does need energy and if you don’t provide it it will start conserving it – meaning you are less able to e.g. do strength training which is also very important for anti-aging, and are likely to become more sedentary.

In short summary, intermittent fasting means going without food for ~24 hours at a time, and it’s easiest to incorporate so that you eat a proper dinner one night, and then fast throughout the following day until it’s dinner time again. You don’t need to do this every day to get the benefits, but once a week or maybe even once a month is enough.

For those who are interested in the subject I recommend these articles:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fasting/
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-intermittent-fasting/

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2008/03/02/postponing-death-caloric-restriction-vs-intermittent-fasting-part-1/ (check also Part II)

//sami
Sami Paju´s last blog post ..How to attract women like a married man

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Nea | Self Improvement Saga July 28, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Hi Stephen. I love what you said about where the emphasis lies: live OR longer. I’m among that majority of people. I’ve always said that I don’t want to live to be 100–or even 90. My focus, as you suggested, was on the longer part. I guess I’ve never really given much thought to what it would be like to truly live for 100+ years. You’ve made me rethink this in a major way, my friend. Now if only I can convince myself to lay off the soul food.

Hugs to you!
Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog post ..How to Feel Great and Keep a Smile on Your Face

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Peaceful Paradox August 22, 2010 at 12:09 am

Definitely, exercise is an key ingredient. I agree that what’s good for the body is also good for the brain. The brain consume 20% of the body’s oxygen even though it is only 2% of the body by mass. So no doubt aerobic exercise is good for the brain.

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danny September 25, 2010 at 2:53 am

I think you forgot one very important factor to long life:

A reason to actually live. A reason to wake up in the morning. Which can be mostly anything, but to many people it’s their children, grand children or their meaningful jobs. Or maybe a hobby of some sort. Anything that gives you a reason to continue life, because if there is none, your body and mind will start to feel unmotivated in the process of keeping you alive.

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kim August 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I agree. I always read about studies finding that married people live longer than single people.
kim´s last blog post ..Can Dieting be Fun?

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jdl January 4, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Raw isn’t always better than cooked by the way. Many foods digest better and give up their nutrients more efficiently if cooked. Meat is an obvious one and broccoli also.

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Harry January 12, 2011 at 8:41 am

Great article and comments! I think one of the most important factor of growing old is to maintain a positive approach to everything you do. It’s all about enjoying the things you do and who you do it with.

Harry

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Harry Mouratidis February 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Stephen,
I enjoyed the article and the reader input. You might want to look at the main longevity factors contained in the “Longevity Pyramid” which come out of the “They Live Longer” project in ten longevity villages in Southern Europe. Surprisingly, the most common characteristic shared by all healthy and active 90-year-olds is that they are masters of their destiny, meaning they feel being in control of their lives.
For more information visit http://www.longevitypyramid.com

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Helen Wenley February 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Harry, I would have to agree with you about being master of our own destiny. I recently read “The Biology of Belief’ by Bruce Lipton http://www.brucelipton.com/ – very worthwhile reading or if you prefer video – http://www.2011tappingworldsummit.com/tws/BruceLipton_n.php – Bruce suggests that our thoughts and environment do control our destiny, not evolution and our genes.
Helen Wenley´s last blog post ..Walking in Auckland – Newmarket Park

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Harry Mouratidis March 1, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Thank you Helen.
I agree that “The Biology of Belief” is, indeed, an impressive book. My field work demonstrates that the masters of their destiny share many common characteristics. It also reveals that there is MUCH MORE to a long and healthy life than intense exercise and adhering to a particular diet.

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Helen Wenley March 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Hi Harry,
I went and looked up your site. I see that the book is available only in US and Canada. I would like a copy so could you please notify me when it becomes available to New Zealand residents?
Thanks,
Helen
Helen Wenley´s last blog post ..Walks in Auckland – weekend in the Coromandel

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Harry Mouratidis March 1, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Thank you Helen.
The ebook version should be ready next week. Once this is done, please allow me to email you a free copy in its pdf format.
All the best
Harry

Helen Wenley March 2, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Thank you very much Harry – I would really appreciate that.
Regards,
Helen
Helen Wenley´s last blog post ..Walks in Auckland – weekend in the Coromandel

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