You Are What You Eat
When it comes to foods, it's common knowledge that minimally processed, vibrant colours and variation across the protein, fats and carb food groups is best. Without entering the minefield of diet camp wars on keto vs vegan, vs low fat vs paleo- you can’t go wrong with a day full of whole foods.
Think berries and leafy greens, legumes and rich proteins, with some oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds on the side. Even dark chocolate and a splash of red wine can be added to the list of superfoods. You’ll look ‘glowy-er’, have more energy day to day, and feel the benefits of increased bone strength and mental clarity over time.
2. What About When You Eat?
What's less common knowledge and in fact against the conventional public food grain, is the abundance of evidence for time restricted eating in increasing longevity, whilst reducing risk of disease. This practice refers to narrowing the window in which food is consumed and extending the natural fast we have whilst sleeping. Common examples are 14-16 hours of fasting with a 10-8 hour eating window each day.
Studies exploring the effects of this restriction across different animals and humans have yielded positive results across insulin resistance, gut health, risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s, as well as longevity. Astonishingly, the benefits of time restricted eating have even been found to offset the negative effects of poor diet composition on insulin resistance and metabolic disease. And whilst we’re not advocating subbing the life boosting superfoods for a diet of junk food within a restricted time window, these findings point to the powerful potential of this purchase free health hack.
3. Use It Or Lose It
Your brain is like a muscle. Trying new things and staying social keeps those new brain connections forming and your risk of cognitive related disease lower. New mental challenges like learning a language, a new musical instrument or even coordination related yoga or dance practices have been linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer's. Even just keeping social as we age is an important way to give your brain a workout; maintaining and creating new life-prolonging brain connections as we do so.
Chronic stress is linked to all things chronic disease. Through reducing this stress and the harmful related health outcomes on anxiety, depression, heart disease and cancer, meditation has been crowned a winner in increasing longevity. It's also been linked to protective effects on the ageing process through increasing cell longevity and reducing high blood pressure.
Whether it's meditation, or hobbies, or the justification of a sweet treat on a hard day- anything which reduces stress is a strong player in the game of increasing longevity.
5. Muscle Mass
Loss of muscle mass as we age is linked to a 60% higher risk of death, compared to those managing to maintain. Given the natural tendency to lose muscles at a rate of 3-8% each year after 30, being proactive with resistance training and protein intake can offset this reduction, and the associated poor health outcomes of muscle loss.
No ones saying you have to become a bodybuilder, but with just one hour of resistance training each week linked to lower risk of fatigue, loss of function, disability, fall risk and frailty associated with lost muscle mass, it's a small effort for a big reward. It'll also protect your brain health, reduce your stress and facilitate healthy metabolic functioning.
6. The Power of Light
Insufficient sleep is linked to reduced longevity and day to day wellbeing- with sleeping 5 or fewer hours linked to a 15% increase in mortality risk. Sleeping is when our bodies restore and recharge, so getting enough of it is important for reducing risk of cancer, maintaining immune function and good brain health, as well as blood sugar regulation and risk of obesity.
Getting natural morning light can be an important way to regulate your melatonin (sleepy hormone) and cortisol (energy hormone) in line with your daily activities. This regulation is central to maintaining a healthy sleep cycle, with increased hours and also quality of sleep. Similarly, avoiding bright lights at night can avoid the associated disruption in melatonin at a time we want to wind down for bed.
Do Something Today for Future You
Whether you're a master of all things longevity or just dabbling in health topics for the New Year, there's no amount of offsetting which can ultimately put off death. To reduce harmful stress for you whilst you're here, and your family members after you're gone, get started on your Safewill estate plan today. Call us on 1800 10 33 for a one-to-one with one of our experts, or start a live chat now.