You can enjoy an extra twelve to fourteen years of good life! No really! That’s a promise.
It’s not a pill or potion! You just have to take care of yourself. Deep down, we all know that if you follow healthy lifestyle options, you will live longer. Not just that but you will enjoy better health in your life.
Now we can boil it down to just 5 essential factors. In a large study, which followed over 78,000 women and over 44,000 men, researchers have shown that if you follow a healthy diet (more of that later), exercise regularly, don’t smoke, drink moderate amounts of alcohol and maintain a healthy weight you could live more than a decade longer than those who don’t do any of these things.1
To be more specific, they defined the five good health habits as never smoking; body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2; 30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day; a high-quality diet (top 40%); and moderate alcohol intake (up to one glass of wine daily for women and two glasses of wine daily for men). Personally, I would say that BMI is not such a good measure as percentage body fat, but that discussion can take place elsewhere.
The good news is that researchers found each factor added around 2 to 3 years of extra life. Cumulatively, that means that life expectancy at age 50 years was 14 years longer for women and 12.2 years extra for men (for women, that’s 93 years average, up from 79, and for men, 87.6 years, up from 79).
Put another way, compared with men and women who lacked any of the five healthy-lifestyle habits, those who had all five enjoyed an 82% lower risk for dying from cardiovascular disease, a 65% lower chance of dying from cancer, and a 74% lower risk of dying from all causes during follow-up. That’s awesome!
Here’s The Good News in Brief!
The five lifestyle habits you can master to gain more than 12 years extra life:
- Eat well (see below)
- Don’t smoke
- Exercize regularly
- No more than 1 or 2 glasses of wine daily (women 1, men 2)
- Get slim (body fat percentage of under 20% for men, 28% women)
What you can potentially achieve is exciting. But almost as exciting is that, even by following some of these recommendation, you get measureable benefit, even if just a few extra years! In other words, just do as much as you can. Every step in the right direction will lengthen your life a little.
“Each single lifestyle change you make will help you live longer and better,” commented Jean-Pierre Després, PhD, cardiology research director at the Quebec Heart and Lung Institute at Laval University, Quebec, Canada, and chair of the American Heart Association (AHA) Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health.
If your life is really good—and it should be—then you will want to maximize your stay here on earth. In which case, commit to all five.
It’s Not Just Lifespan
Lifespan is how long you can expect to live, on average. But there’s a better concept: “Health Span”. Lifespan is simply how many years you live and breathe. But for over a decade, the Longevity Institute of the University of Southern California (USC) a leading biomedical research center for aging and longevity, has been researching how to improve a person’s Health Span – the happy part of life prior to the onset of some calamity such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s and auto-immune diseases.
It’s not the same as Lifespan, obviously. But hopefully nearly the same length of time. Our Health Span is critical and we want it as long as possible, staying healthy until the very end of life. This is a newer version of the old saying, that anti-aging is not so much about putting years into your life, as putting life into your years!
Many years ago (1997) I wrote a piece entitled “Do You Want To Be An Old Crock Or A Classic Car?” It may help to picture this in terms of the aging of a motor car. Typically, a well-used car will last 10- 20 years and then fall apart, unsafe to be repaired. The better the maintenance, the longer it takes to crumble, naturally; if you omit routine oil changes and other vital tasks, the car will soon fail mechanically. But then some cars, so-called Classic Cars, are in sweet running order and perform reliably when they are 80, 90 or even more than 100 years old. Why is that?
The answer is so obvious, it screams at you: they have been properly looked after.
It’s exactly the same with the human body. You have to ask yourself, do you want to be a classic car or an old “banger”, rusting and clanking away? I doubt anyone in their right mind would choose to be a banger. Yet that is the outlook mentality of anyone who doesn’t begin to take effective care of their health NOW.
Turning Back The Clock
We have one proven advantage over mechanical objects: our bodies can regenerate to a considerable degree. It has been a medical hoax of long standing, to tell people they have to put up with miserable health conditions, just because the doctors don’t know how to cure it. The fact is that if you turn to nature, instead of the drug industry, to look for answers, there are many exciting ways to gain back your health, even after many years of believing you were stuck with it. You probably already know of people curing themselves of arthritis, cancer, heart disease and so on, without resorting to any further drastic medical intervention. These results show the way for us all: you can recover your health!
Add to this the many wonderful breakthroughs in the science of anti-aging, and there is really no good reason, other than self-neglect, to accept the breakdown of old age. People routinely feel a sense of complete life renewal, increased vigor, mental clarity and sexual pleasure. You can—literally—turn back the clock!
In the words of Dr Walter Pierpaoli and Dr William Regeleson: “Ours is the first generation that need not experience senescence, the dismal physical decline now associated with old age. We are the first generation that need not resign ourselves to accepting the fate that our later years will be filled with debility and disease. Ours is the first generation that has the capacity, by resetting our aging clocks, to actually prolong youthful health and vitality into our eighties, nineties, and possibly even our hundreds”.
The fact is that the major killers—heart disease, stroke, diabetes and most cancers—are easily preventable if you go about it the right way. The appalling toll of unnecessary deaths is simply a measure of the incompetence of a medical profession, which is obsessed with drugs and treating only symptoms, instead of taking effective and proven action directed towards the known causes of these conditions.
All the old suspects have been churning around for decades and doing little good as tools: screenings, BMI (body mass index), cholesterol, blood pressure, HbA1C, CRP, etc.
Some of these probably need retiring. Newer findings suggest we concentrate more on fasting insulin levels, stem cell function, uric acid, blood ketones and AMPK.
It really comes down to what does Nature want for us? As far as she’s concerned, we are supposed to be wandering around in the forest, or on the African veldt, where it all started. We are hunter-gatherers and should eat meat, fish, plants, nuts and seeds.
Sitting still all day long is very bad. So are burgers, pizza and donuts. Boozing isn’t natural, although even wild animals have access to alcoholic fermented fruits at least part of the year (for some fun, search on YouTube for “drunken elephants marula fruit”). As for smoking, Nature doesn’t understand that at all. And being fat just doesn’t happen in the wild.
Sugar is the kiss of death—truly. But so are grains, which turn quickly to soft carbohydrates like glucose. Milk is good for infants; but after a few months it’s nothing more than a sugar food. Skim milk is even worse, by the way: take away the fats and milk is basically just sugar water.
Thing is, these are all what I call “farmer foods”; they have only been in our diet for a few thousand years. In evolutionary terms that’s no more than a blink of an eye.
Our bodies, and especially our brains, don’t work well on sugar. So what should we run on? The answer will surprise some, which is ketones. Ketones are special fats which can be burned as fuel but are much more efficient than sugar.
Our brains love ketones; when metabolizing these, we feel alert, energized and clear-headed.
Keto By Stages
Humans have been on a Ketogenic diet for at least two and a half million years and it has made us human. Graham Simpson MD
Hunter gatherers do not eat significant carbs (sugars and starches). We use a different pathway to create energy, burning fat instead. Ketones are the vehicle for this energy process. Of course, I’m being very simplistic for you here!
Hunter-gatherer peoples come in all shapes and sizes, EXCEPT fat!
So how to we get to burn fat, instead of carbs? There is a series of levels of action and you can choose how hard you want to go in.
- Total fast
- Intermittent fast
- One meal a day
- Zero carbs
- Extreme low carbs
Obviously, the best way to turn keto and lose weight is stop eating! In other words, you fast. That’s tough going but dependable. And there is no doubt, that fasting works wonders on your health. Stem cells burst into life and multiply like crazy. Also, you don’t just consume your body fats. You switch into a metabolic super-mode called autophagy (Greek for “eating self”), a process in which you destroy old feeble cells and re-cycle the material into something young and healthy!
No question: fasting is rejuvenating. My only issue with it is that there is no inherent change in lifestyle. When you go back to eating, you risk going back to old habits.
Intermittent fasting is easier to manage: 2 days a week or 5 days a month, whatever you elect to do. It has all the benefits of full-on fasting but works at a slightly scaled-down rate.
Easier still is OMAD, which stands for “one meal a day”. Not eating for 16 hours or more puts you into what we call a fast-mimicking mode. That’s something you can include as a long-term lifestyle modification. You get almost all the benefits of fasting, plus keto energy and weight loss.
Most people who are determined about staying healthy and living longer can stay on OMAD for long periods.
If you share your life with other people, or there are other reasons why OMAD isn’t practicable, then low-carb eating, especially when coupled with high-fat intake (Atkins, in other words) works as well as it always did. You just need to be more patient about the weight loss.
Up to 20 lbs. in a month is certainly achievable.
1. Circulation. 2018;CIRCULATIONAHA.117.032047. Originally published April 30, 2018