Great Question! Actuary Tables for the USA have the average Life Span around 80 years ± 2 years dependent of your current age and gender.
Recent research has shown that the “Millennials” will experience shorter life spans than their parents. This is the first time this has ever occurred in American History. I personally expect to see similar trends around the World. There are various theories for the decrease in Life Spans. The theories I agree with revolve around Lifestyle.
If your goal is to live your longest healthiest and happiest life, you will need to lead a healthy lifestyle. You are probably thinking: “And how, precisely, do you do that?” You are asking a simple question, though you probably realize the answer is far more complex.
A good friend of mine Dr. Robert Goldman, wrote a book a while back titled: “121 Ways to live 121 Years or Longer!”
You would find it a good start on your goal to read Bob’s book. Though no one book, no matter how comprehensive, can give you ALL the answers to achieving your goal. Virtually every day, new research is reported on Lifestyle choices you can make to increase your longevity or things you can do to prevent SHORTENING your Life Span!
For example: If you had a job installing or removing asbestos, or a career as a U.S. Air Force Test Pilot, Astronaut or Javelin Catcher, you should expect to have a shorter life span. That should be obvious, what may not be so obvious is that Airline Pilots, Dentists and Defense Attorneys also have shorter life spans!
There are many KNOWNS to increase your Life Span, but there are many more UNKNOWNS. So how do you make informed, rational, logical, conclusions on the best possible lifestyle choices to maximize your life span? Some of your choices are easy, others, not so much.
First and Foremost: Exercise Daily! There is NO WAY AROUND IT: YOU HAVE TO MOVE TO LIVE!!! You should review the volumes of research proving: Your #1 Risk of developing chronic disorders, premature aging and DEATH is lack of exercise!
For those among you who say, “I don’t have time for exercise!” Put on your “thinking CAP” and consider research on GAIT SPEED. Those 65 years olds in the worst shape lived an average to only 72 before they died. While those in the best shape lived on average to 103 years of age before they died.
So, if lack of time is your only excuse, how does adding 31 YEARS to your life span sound to YOU!!!
The next best way to decreased your life span is use of tobacco products! Smoking, chewing, snorting or anything else you can think of to put this poison in your body WILL lead to any early painful and horrific death.
Also, on the topic of toxic and poisonous substances: If GOD did not make it, you should not eat it, drink it, ingest it or even allow it to be absorbed into your body!
Even many soaps, shampoos, deodorants, body lotions, talcum powder, body sprays, house-hold cleaning products, air fresheners, plastics, BPA’s, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, and other man-made or man manipulated products and ingredients have been reported to have carcinogenic (cancer causing) properties or other unhealthy consequences. Even breathing second-hand smoke or other highly processed fumes can have consequences.
When you look at the longevity anomalies of the pockets of unusually long-lived people around the World, in “Blue Zones:” like the Himalaya’s, Ikaria (Greece), Okinawa, parts of Sardinia, and Costa Rica, and Abkhazia in the Caucasus Mountains of Southern Russia whose famous citizen: Shirali Muslimov who is purported to have lived to 168 years old.
In these areas, you observe people who live simple-stress-free lives far from Industrial Centers, most modern technology, processed foods, and polluted air and water.
Do you need to move to Shangri-La to live a longer, healthier, happier life, shave your head and become a Buddhist Monk? … (Give me a minute! After the month I just had… It’s a tempting thought! Plus, it would solve the issue of my hair turning Silver!) O.K…. The Answer IS… NO, but it could help you immeasurable to emulate some of the lifestyle Buddhist Monk’s embrace.
The key features of a healthy lifestyle are eating clean and natural. No processed foods. Consume only natural, drug-free, hormone free, wild caught, non-processed foods. Processing is unhealthy for a variety of reasons. Highly processed foods destroy the bioavailability of nutrients in your food. And if that is not bad enough, processing can add many unwanted elements to your consumables, many of which can have dire consequences to your health and longevity.
Other recommended life style changes:
- Get 7-8 hours sleep/night. In a recent study conducted by Johnathan Cedernae, at the Neuroscience Dept. Uppsala University: demonstrated that one night of sleep loss has a tissue- specific impact on your DNA regulation of gene expression and metabolism which leads to muscle loss and fat gain. Diet and exercise also impact DNA expression for good or ill. If you do “Shift-Work” healthy diet and exercise may help your body recover from loss of sleep. So, if you are too tired to exercise suck it-up “Buttercup” and exercise anyway! Follow healthy sleep Management Protocols.
- Alcohol Consumption: One serving/day for a woman, 2 serving/day for a male is healthy. More than those recommendations quickly become unhealthy. For those of you who like drinks served by the bucket, one serving of wine is 4 ounces (unless Ed, my favorite bartender, is reading this, if you are Ed, feel free to add a ZERO) or one shot: 1.5 ounces of a “hard liquors.”
- Stay hydrated: drink sufficient pure, filtered water to keep your urine clear-to-nearly-clear.
- Keep your weight and body composition in normal range. Both overweight (over-fat) and underweight have negative health consequences.
- Stress Management: Do You Worry? Does it help? Find a Stress Management program that works for you. Prayer, meditation, exercise, socializing with friends and family can all reduce stress. High levels of stress can kill. Chronically high levels of stress result in chronically high levels of cortisol. Cortisol hormones at normal levels of normal duration are essential to keep you alive. Abnormally high levels for long duration can cause numerous disorders and even premature death.
- Eat a wide variety of the healthiest, most nutrient dense foods possible. Avoid frying or over-cooking your food. Construct your Nutrition Program around the “Super Foods” the most nutrient dense foods available today. Eat healthy 80% of the time and you can afford a few “Cheat Meals” from time-to-time.
- Avoid overconsumption of sugar, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, high saturated fat or trans-fat foods, processed and other not-so-nutritious food/drinks/additives.
- Avoid Drugs: Recreational drug use kills. Performance Enhancing drugs kill. Even prescription drugs kill, so before you decide to start a prescription from your doctor, explore exercise, nutrition and lifestyle prescriptions first.
- Take advantage of foods and drinks known to increase health and longevity and avoid those known to decrease health and longevity, i.e.: the higher the intake of coffee or tea (Black, brown, Green, Red, White, all teas have health benefits and similar benefits found in caffeinated coffee). Sugary and “Diet” drinks have been shown to decrease health and longevity.
- Take Personal Responsibility for your own fitness, health, and Well-being. Do not be fooled for a moment that a doctor, a Government run health-care system, or any drug, pill, potion, or Magic Elixir is ever going to maximize your health, prevent chronic disorders or premature aging and death.
If you take your health and longevity seriously you can expect to live well past the average age of 80 years old. We now have many more people living past 100 years of age than ever before.
In modern times we’ve had people live to 119 years old, but that is far short of the 256 years that Dr. Lee, a Martial Artist and Chinese Medicine doctor was reported to have lived. Dr. Lee attributed his longevity to many of the things listed for you in this article plus several herbal preparations including Ho Shu Woo and Ginseng. And YES, Dr. Lee was physically active, practicing Martial Arts daily.
Like Dr. Lee, your goal should not be to live a long life; your goal should be to live a long, healthy, fully functional and happy life. If you follow the blue print provided here, you should accomplish your goal.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Jim Bell, CEO, IFPA