Increase Your Longevity
by Dr. Sarah Brewer
A Nutritionist and Doctor
Why do some people cruise past the age of 100 while others struggle to embrace their Biblically-allotted three-score years and ten?
Centenarians have an unusually lucky combination of genes that mean they stay healthier, for longer, as they age. They are often more resistant to the degenerative changes that contribute to ageing, and are less likely to be significantly overweight, to smoke, or to drink alcohol in excess. The combination of healthy genes and healthy lifestyle mean their extended years are spent living independently, with an agile body and mind.
Prudence is not the only route to longevity, however. Researchers in the US looked at the medical histories of 424 centenarians (aged up to 119 years) to assess their resistance to ten major illnesses. They found that centenarians formed three profiles¹:
1) Survivors, who were diagnosed with one or more age-related illness before the age of 80, but soldiered on with it.
2) Delayers, who did not develop any of these age-related illnesses until after the age of 80 .
3) Escapers, who reached the age of 100 without developing any of the common age-related illnesses.
The good news for those of us who've lived a more racy life is that an increasing number of centenarians are survivors who have experienced – and overcome - multiple illnesses. You don't necessarily have to have lived the life of a saint, or have a clean medical record, to reach the magical age of 100. To increase your longevity, the current best advice is:
- Choose your parents carefully (longevity genes give you a running start)
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Don't smoke
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Maintain strong social networks
- Think positively and never give up your goal to live a long and healthy life
¹ Evert J et al. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2003 58(3):232-7