7 Simple Habits that could add 20 years to your life

20 extra years of life, who wouldn’t want that! Every day there are new life-extending products being launched on the market. From extreme fad diets claiming to reverse ageing to new pills that promise to keep you young forever.

All of that is pretty understandable. Longevity is a hot topic at the moment and rightly so! Never before have we as humans thought about our own mortality so earnestly. As life seems to keep accelerating, one cannot be blamed for wanting a few extra years to enjoy.

The issue with most “new” longevity products and services out at the moment is in their title. They’re new. And as with many new things, they probably haven’t been tested. It’s ridiculous to claim that something can make a person live until 100 years of age when the product itself has been around for hardly a year.

This post is not a new product

Just saying.

The 7 habits that I’m about to share with you are time-proven. They’ve been gathered from years and years of research on health and longevity. And just as the title of this post suggests, they’re simple. Too simple if you ask me! But as with many other things in life, the key is in simplicity and consistency.

Now before you get so excited and rush off to read what these habits are all about, let me just warn you. Just because they’re super simple doesn’t mean that if you incorporate them into your life for a week your job is done. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. But if you begin incorporating as many of them as possible into your daily life, that’s when the magic happens!

The 7 Habits

  1. Sleeping seven or eight hours a night
  2. Eating regular meals at regular times
  3. Not eating between meals
  4. Maintaining normal weight – i.e. not more than 5 percent underweight, and no more than 10 to 20 percent overweight (the lower number is for women and the higher for men)
  5. Regular physical activity – i.e. engaging often in active sports, long walks, gardening or any other exercise
  6. Moderate drinking – i.e. taking no more than two alcoholic drinks a day
  7. Never smoking cigarettes

This is a super brief list of simple habits, the kind that you would learn as a child and yet many of us tend to overlook them.

If you already consistently engage in 5 or more of those habits, give yourself a pat on the back. If not, do not get disheartened, it’s never too late to make positive changes to your life! Just start today!

I would be happy to answer any questions regarding the habits in the comment section below!

Telomeres: What are they and what is their role in keeping you younger and healthier?

Is there a way of finding out the rate at which your body is ageing? Or more importantly, is there a way of slowing it down, stopping or, dare I say, reversing that rate? Well, telomeres may just be the answer to those questions.

When I talk about ageing, straight away most younger people would picture an elderly person and quickly dismiss the information as irrelevant to them. But, what they may be unaware of is the fact that ageing actually begins the day you’re born. Does that surprise you?

What are telomeres?

You see, every time your cells divide (which happens all the time) the repeating segments of noncoding DNA at the end of your chromosomes, shortens. This last part of the chromosome is known as a telomere, and it sort of resembles the plastic end of shoelaces which helps to keep the shoelace from unravelling.

That may sound a bit depressing, but the good news is that as well as shortening with each cell division, telomeres also have the ability to lengthen. Hence, reverse ageing! Now, what does that mean for a young person? It means; glowing, vibrant and plump skin, it means heaps of energy, it means healthier faster metabolism, stronger immune system. Essentially, it means all the bodily functions will be operating at the optimal level for your body.

There is a finite number of times that a cell can divide before it dies. Just as there is a finite number of base pairs (units of DNA) of telomeres that can be lost before your chromosomes become exposed and begin to unravel, which is where the breakdown of the body begins.

So, here is a typical trajectory for the life of a human’s telomere:

Age

Telomere Length (in base pairs)

Newborn baby

10,000 base pairs

35 years old

7,500 base pairs

65 years old

4,800 base pairs

The shortening of telomeres as the years pass is unfortunately inevitable. However, we do have a lot of control over the rate at which this happens.

The Telomere Effect

In their book, The Telomere Effect, Nobel prize winners Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel discuss some instances that they have discovered which affect the length of our telomeres. Some examples include;

  • Some of us respond to difficult situations by feeling highly threatened – and this response is linked to shorter telomeres. Hence stress is extremely devastating to our telomeres. But we can reframe our view of situations in a more positive way and thus reduce our stress levels.
  • Several mind-body techniques, including meditation and Qigong, have been shown to reduce stress and to increase telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes telomeres.
  • Exercise that promotes cardiovascular fitness is great for telomeres. So, for the folks out there hating on cardio, think again.
  • Telomeres hate processed meats like hot dogs and ham, but fresh, whole foods are good for them.
  • Neighbourhoods that are low in social cohesion – meaning that people don’t know and trust one another are bad for telomeres. This is true no matter what the income level.
  • Children who are exposed to several adverse life events have shorter telomeres. Moving children away from neglectful circumstances (like the notorious Romanian orphanages) can reverse some of the damage.
  • Telomeres on the parents’ chromosomes in the egg and sperm are directly transmitted to the developing baby. Remarkably, this means that if your parents had hard lives that shortened their telomeres, they could have passed those shortened telomeres to you.

 

There are so many factors that affect your telomeres and therefore your cell’s ability to function optimally. So in brief, what can you do from today to start slowing down or reversing cellular damage, or ageing?

Here’s a few suggestions:

Make sure you read number 7 (it’s my favourite one!)

  1. Think kind and loving thoughts – Your cells are listening to your thoughts. Think only kind thoughts about yourself and others and you will be amazed at how lovingly your cells will respond. This is no new age business here people! This is hard science documented by pioneer researchers who’ve been awarded a Nobel Prize for their findings.
  2. Manage stress- or take a chill pill as they say. Stress takes a toll on the body in ways that is hard to imagine. It increases your risk of almost all known diseases and it shortens your telomeres. So, try to manage your stress levels through the help of meditation, mindfulness or whatever works for you.
  3. Exercise – We hear this all the time. But seriously, exercise is so important. Most of us are guilty of not doing enough. Aerobic exercise appears to be best for cellular health and longer telomeres.
  4. A healthy metabolism- Insulin resistance and belly fat are real enemies of telomeres. Try to maintain a healthy metabolism by not crash dieting and keep your serum insulin levels low by consuming less carbohydrates.
  5. Eat for optimal cell health – Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds along with high-quality sources of protein. Consume sources of omega 3 such as; salmon and tuna, leafy green vegetables and flaxseeds. Minimise red meat (especially processed meat). And avoid sugary foods and drinks.
  6. Rest – Telomeres like at least 7 hours of sleep. With sufficient sleep you will feel less hungry, less emotional and lose fewer telomere base pairs.
  7. The places and faces that support our telomeres – Whether we like it or not, or whether we accept it or not, we are interconnected to the people around us in ways that we cannot see yet our telomeres can reveal. We need each other. We are social creatures. We’re also affected in more subtle ways like by the way we feel in our neighbourhood, by the abundance of green plants and trees and by the emotional and physiological states of those around us. So let’s be nice to each other, let’s create friendly neighbourhoods, let’s plant more trees and let’s spend more time outdoors enjoying nature.

Living a long and healthy life isn’t rocket science, but it does require tuning back into our true nature. Eating real food, moving about, breathing clean, fresh air and loving the people around us. <3