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Know the Anti-Aging System Factors That Promote Longevity

Updated on March 12, 2013
75% of one's lifespan is determined by lifestyle choices, according to research on twins.
75% of one's lifespan is determined by lifestyle choices, according to research on twins.

Making the Best Choices for Health and Longevity

Do you want to look and feel younger and increase your chances of living and longer and healthier life? The choices you make have the most significant effect on all of these factors. Scientific studies of both men and women have established about three-fourths of our longevity is determined by our lifestyle choices. This means that the remaining quarter of our lifespan is determined by our genetics. Since our longevity and health hinge primarily upon the individual choices we make, we all have possibilities of extending life and the quality of its experience.

The factors that are so important in increasing one's health are listed below in two categories. First, the primary factors that shorten people's lives are discussed, such as smoking and a sedentary lifestyle. Secondly, there is a listing of the type of behaviors and activities which increase healthy function of the body and mind, thereby helping increase one's energy, health, and even your looks.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the work of Dan Beuttner, who found that people live longer in different places in the world. He called these areas "Blue Zones." Living in these areas was not the key to living longer, however. But these areas showed that people were happier to having healthy, active relationships, less stress and activities to keep them healthy longer. A summary of his work is found on Sarah Dillinger's Hub.


Reduction of Stress and Brain Alpha Waves

A chart showing alpha brain waves that are present when one has an alert, calm mind.  Regular practice of meditation can condition one to sustain this state and avoid stress.
A chart showing alpha brain waves that are present when one has an alert, calm mind. Regular practice of meditation can condition one to sustain this state and avoid stress. | Source
no, no and no.
no, no and no.

Factors That Work Against Your Longevity

Moderation is the rule in many aspects of our lives to maintain our health, however there are some things that should be avoided at all costs. The most important thing to do is to not smoke tobacco. Scientific studies have established beyond a shadow of doubt that smoking can add as much as 20 years to your looks, besides causing many different health disorders and premature death. Excessive alcohol consumption should also be avoided, which is 3 or more drinks per day. Moderate consumption of 1-2 drinks per day has shown a 20% decrease in mortality in several studies.

Factors that also increase wear and tear on our bodies and accelerate aging include overeating (including having too many sweets), living in polluted environment and living a stressful life. Overeating, besides leading to excessive weight and the problems that entails, makes our bodies work excessively to process a surplus of food. If we eat to many sweets as well, health complications may occur.

Research has shown that living in polluted cities can shorten you expected lifespan less than a year, but perhaps the biggest factor that affects ones longevity in city life is stress. The physiological effects of stress cause wear and tear on the body by increasing the amount of time it is in the fight or flight phase of the nervous system. This puts the body on high alert and uses up your energy sources and negatively affects your mood.

What do chocolate and telomeres have to do with health and longevity?  Read below.
What do chocolate and telomeres have to do with health and longevity? Read below.
The root of this plant has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries to improve health and longevity.  Read below for more information on its effect.
The root of this plant has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries to improve health and longevity. Read below for more information on its effect. | Source

Factors That Are Part of An Anti-Aging System

Eating. First, it is important to have a positive attitude towards aging. It is important to keep connection with community and sustain the will to live. The connection with community helps us sustain a positive mindset. Of course, it is important to choose a community that helps us foster caring and loving connections with others.

It was mentioned earlier that how much we eat has a negative impact, however to extend our health, eating in moderation helps. Restricting the carbohydrate intake to between 1000 and 2000 calories a day and it is important to have a diet consist of more healthy choices, such as the Mediterranean Diet. Components of this diet includes nuts, cereals, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas and olive oil. Factors in the diet that should be consumed in moderation include red meat, milk products and alcohol. I recent (2011) criticism by Harvard (mentioned in the resources below) of the USDA Food Pyramid backs up that advice.

Supplements. Do supplements help? For humans, the jury is still out, however lab studies with mice have indicated that supplements can result in an almost 30% increase in longevity. In these cases, the diets are strictly controlled, and probably cannot be duplicated with humans. But it is probable may be that several supplements may assist in helping increase your heath, well-being and how long you live. The components of a supplement for longevity includes the minerals potassium, magnesium, chromium picolinate, chelated zinc and selenium; all the B vitamins and vitamins A, C, D and E; and other components including cod liver oil, coenzyme Q, acetyl L-carnitine, bioflavonoids, L-glutathione, acetylsalicylic acid, DHEA, folic acid, flax seed oil, ginger, garlic, green tea extract, ginseng, rutin and melatonin. You may recognize several antioxidants in this formula, multivitamin components and herbal components that have a reputation for improving health.

It is interesting that melatonin is part of the longevity supplement. Melatonin has been used as a sleep aid for those with insomnia and it is also an antioxidant. One of the other factors that has been associated with increasing life span is having good sleep habits. A sleep cycle that includes 7-8 hours per day has been found to be optimal. Getting enough sleep helps nurture the body, aiding in recovery from events that cause stress during our daily activities.

Antioxidants. Quercetin, resveratrol, and chocolate should be in the vocabulary and the dietary practice of anyone interested in living a long, healthy life. Quercetin has been shown to have benefits for preventing heart disease and cancer due to its antioxidant ability. Antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory ability. Resveratrol studies show it promotes longevity and has many other positive effects, like preventing blood clots, preventing growth of cancerous cells and helping with diabetes. Last, but not least, eat chocolate or drink cocoa regularly. A meta-analysis of seven studies on more than 110,000 people indicates that chocolate and cocoa consumption reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke by about 30%. To reduce the amount of sugar you intake, you can use sweetener substitutes with cocoa or you can put cocoa nibs on your breakfast cereal. Studies indicate that chocolate provides a more significant contribution to heart health than aspirin. See the review of this study in the HubPages article Chocolate and the Heart.

Telomeres and aging. In the last few years, scientific study results have indicated that there may be a correlation between the length of the telomeres observed in white blood cells and longevity. Telomeres are the strands of DNA at the end of the chromosome that can be observed when cells are actively dividing. Extracts of an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus, have been shown to enhace telomere length. The Chinese use this herb as an adaptogen, something like ginseng and it is believe to help kidney function. You can buy the expensive supplement or you can soak dried astragalus root in rum for 45 days to get your own supplement. Put a teaspoon of the extract in tea once to twice a day. Note: Astragalus has a flavor that is bit peculiar, but you can get used to it.

Telomere research is in its infancy at the moment. There have yet to be controlled clinical trials involving large numbers of people. However, taking an astragalus daily supplement is something anyone can do and I can attest to the fact that taking the amounts of the home-made extract above will increase your energy. In addition, information provided by the U.S. Government indicates that there is data that indicates its benefits for the immune system, liver and heart. It also seems to help with cancer therapy.


Telomeres and Reversing Aging

Qigong movements are slow and focused, and are often coordinated with the breathing.  Better breathing leads to better overall health.
Qigong movements are slow and focused, and are often coordinated with the breathing. Better breathing leads to better overall health. | Source

Supercharging Your Anti-Aging System

It is not just what we avoid and what we put into our bodies that helps us feel and look young - the benefits of regular exercise also apply in that regard. The exercises can be as simple as walking or swimming. For a list of exercises that help build your health and increase your endurance, check out the guide provided by the U. S. National Institute on Aging. These exercises are important in managing and helping prevent disorders like diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and various cancers. They have also have an effect on preventing cognitive decline in disorders like dementia.

I particularly recommend using exercises for the maintenance of balance and posture. Of the later type of exercises, I highly recommend using exercises as prescribed by Pete Egoscue in his book, The Egoscue Method. As adults, we can develop imbalances and postural misalignments that can be corrected using these methods. He recommends different stretching and strengthening exercise sets for different body types. Some of the stretches are adapted from yoga. I use his exercises regularly in conjunction with qigong to help maintain good alignments.

Scientific research is just now catching up with anecdotal testimonials that indicate the ancient practices of qigong and Tai Chi can significantly improve your health, energy and help prevent disease. Both Tai Chi Chuan and qigong are an essential part of the preventative health care system in China. There are several types of exercises that included complex or choreographed moving forms like Tai Chi, while the simpler forms are called dao yin or qigong. There are many principles of these exercises that help improve balance, health and energy, as well as aiding of mind focus, relaxation of the body and mind and improving breathing. Meditation exercises on the breath help train the mind to focus, and improve blood and lymph circulation and mind-body coordination, as well as one's resistance to stress. All of these factors help improve so many functions of both the mind and body to facilitate longevity and provide a better quality of life.

Resources for Increasing Fitness and Longevity

Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain
Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain

Describes an exercise program that helps balance the body, strengthen the core and improve postural alignment. There is also a video series that comes with this book.

 

Qigong for Longevity Program by Master Kao Tao

Other Resources for Anti-Aging Strategies and Longevity

1. AARP on Health and Longevity

2. Levy, B. R., Slade, M. D., Kunkel, S. R., and Kasl, S. V. 2002. Longevity Increased by Positive Self-Perceptions of Aging. Journal of Personal and Social Psychology 83:261-270.

3. Harvard School of Public Health. 2011. The Healthy Eating Plate vs. the USDA Food Pyramid.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Derdriu 

      7 years ago

      Randy M.: Thank you for the clear, concise, practical linkage of healthy aging with healthy eats and feats. How interesting that qigong and tai chi are ancient forms with continued modern applicability! One of the fun things about them is the way in which they offer complete exercise of body, brain and emotions.

      Thank you, voted up, etc.,

      Derdriu

    • Alladream74 profile image

      Victor Mavedzenge 

      7 years ago from Oakland, California

      Breathing exercises have always been known to be beneficial in many ways. Glad you mentioned qigong here as it is considered particularly good for you if you practice it consistently over long periods of time. Good hub!

    • Randy M. profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy McLaughlin 

      7 years ago from Liberia, Costa Rica

      The benefits of exercise are obvious, as mentioned in the last section of the article. Perhaps some people don't consider qigong exercise, but it is and it does improve health in many ways.

    • profile image

      Prostrate Surgery 

      7 years ago

      It is not just what we avoid and what we put into our bodies that helps us feel and look young - the benefits of regular exercise also apply in that regard.

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