The search for “the fountain of youth” has had a long history, from tracking down sacred, life-giving water sources in the days of antiquity, to the invention of “miracle pills” and stem cell research in the modern age.
You are born with approximately 20,000 blood stem cells, which your body uses to replenish your blood. Over time, and depending on the “abuse” you put your body through, these cells become damaged and die. As your blood stem cells dwindle, your body becomes less efficient at repairing and regenerating itself.
In essence, your blood stem cells may be the proverbial “clock” that eventually runs out, no matter how well you take care of yourself. In the meantime, however, you have a great deal of control over how quickly those cells perish.
Is your personality geared for longevity?
Personality for Long Life
According to results from The Longevity Project, a Stanford study spanning 80 years, your level of conscientiousness may have a great deal to do with how long you end up living. Having a personality that strives to do things well; being thorough and vigilant − this is a trait that most of the people who live the longest share.
Sense of Purpose
The Longevity Project also dismisses the idea that hard work will kill you early. On the contrary, those who stayed productive and worked hard all their lives tended to be happier, healthier, and more social compared to those who didn’t work as hard. That’s not to dismiss work stress as a factor that needs to be addressed and kept in check.
But being productive can also lend a sense of purpose, which is very important for longevity. And working—especially in your later years—tends to keep you socially connected, which has repeatedly been shown to be an important factor for longevity.
You Are What You Eat
No discussion about longevity would be complete without addressing diet. A processed, high-sugar diet is undoubtedly the quickest route to an early death, barring a lethal accident. This is because consuming sugar and grains increases your insulin and leptin levels, which is the equivalent of slamming your foot on your ageing accelerator. Besides that, research by Professor Cynthia Kenyon shows that carbohydrates have a direct and detrimental effect on two key genes that govern longevity and youthfulness.
Ideally, you’ll want to replace all forms of processed and refined sugars and grains with healthy fats such as butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, grass-fed meats, and raw nuts. Many would benefit from getting as much as 50-85 percent of their daily calories from fats.
Mindfulness and Perpetual Motion
There’s compelling evidence suggesting that having a calm mind and active body are two important ingredients for longevity. The meditative technique known as “mindfulness” has even been shown to have a beneficial effect on genetic expression. Meditation has also been found to affect the enzyme telomerase, which some researchers believe is actively involved with the process of ageing. As for keeping your body active, avoiding sitting is perhaps of even greater importance than having a regular workout regimen.
The science is very clear on this point: sitting too much is a surefire way to take years off your life! And that applies even if you exercise vigorously a few times a week. Basically, what the research is telling us is that getting too hung up on a once-a-day exercise routine is to put the cart before the horse. First, you need to make sure you’re engaging in more or less perpetual non-exercise movement, as this is an independent risk factor for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Life Long Learning
Education is also strongly correlated with a longer life. If you think you know it all just because you went to high school or college, you might as well pack it up. It’s all downhill from there. My perspective is to be a lifelong student. If I lived for several hundred years, I don’t think there is enough time to learn all the topics I would like to. That said, merely getting an education can have a great impact, and perhaps it’s because it teaches you to be a student.
Lifestyle Choices Today Impact Tomorrows
The takeaway message here is that you have a great deal of control over your life expectancy, based on the personal choices you make − from how you think to how you move, and what you choose to eat − and when.
In the end, there is no quick fix when it comes to longevity. There is no magic pill and no fountain of youth. Although some people seem to be blessed with longevity in spite of their lifestyle choices, this is the exception and not the rule. For most of us, becoming healthy Centenarians will require effort and attention to the factors discussed above.
This article was brought to you by Dr Mercola, a New York Times bestselling author. For more helpful articles, please visit Mercola.com