Ten Ways to Live Ten Years Longer,
by Dean Darcy
NO MATTER how old you are now, 21 or 71 - or older -
the time to start extending your lifespan is now. The aging process is inevitable, but many new
discoveries of the last few years can slow down its effects, leaving you healthier and more
youthful and active, longer than your parents or grandparents - or any prior generation we know
extensionisn't just going to happen because you're alive in
the 21st century. Agribusiness and the big drug companies aren't necessarily going to give you
the right kind of products or information to maximize your lifespan and quality of life - they're
going to promote the products that make them the most profit. It's up to youto do the reading and research and critical
thinking to take charge of your health and your life.
Living in the 21st century does give you some
tremendous advantages, though. Never before has there been more research into life extension and
health - and never before has access to that research been easier, thanks to electronic
publishing and the Internet.
Let's review some of the things we know are very
important if you want to maintain radiant health during an active and long life - ten things that
could help you live ten years longer, youthfully.
We know now that modern lifestyles - where we typically
sitas we drive from place to
place, sitand watch
television, sitwhile we
access the Internet - make our waistlines balloon. But did you know that this sedentary lifestyle
can also take years off your life?
The latest research shows that one cause, perhaps the
major cause, of the aging process is the shortening, over time, of the protective segments of DNA
- called telomeres - at
the ends of the chromosomes in every single cell of your body.
Every time your cells divide, the telomeres get
shorter and shorter, and shorter telomeres eventually prevent cells from dividing further,
spelling cellular death. Telomere shortening has also been found in association with many
symptoms of aging, including senile dementia and elevated blood pressure.
There is an enzyme called telomerasewhich counteracts this constant
telomere shortening, however. And, according to a study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, regular, intense exercise - in addition to giving us innumerable and well-known
benefits like weight loss, increased energy, sense of well-being, resistance to depression, less
bad cholesterol, lower resting heart rates, and lower blood pressure - alsowas found to activate telomerase and
That means that exercise has a benefit we didn't know
about until just recently - it directly addresses a major cause of aging. To get this benefit,
the study suggests that the exercise must be both intenseand long-term, like that of professional athletes. If
you've been out of shape for some time, you might have to start slowly and build up to an intense
regimen over a period of many months. Remember, even though exercise seems like hard work if you
haven't been active for a long time, most people report that, after a while, it gives them
moreenergy throughout the day,
and feels so good (as a result of the release of pain-suppressing endorphins) that they never want to miss a session.
Since it has so much health- and lifespan-increasing potential, what's your excuse for not giving
it a try?
2. Replace processed foods with natural foods:
The big food corporations add huge quantities of preservatives,
salt, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, artificial coloring, and texturizing
agents to many of the foods on our grocery store shelves. Needless to say, these additives
are notput there to
enhance your health. Industrial-scale food production and distribution involve lengthy time
delays and huge inventories. If these companies didn't load them with preservatives, these foods
would go bad while being transported or stored.
And competition in the food business is cutthroat,
with fortunes made or lost by capturing or losing a few percentage points of market share. The
executives at these companies know that market share can often be gained by adding a bit more
salt or a bit more sugar or a bit more artificial flavoring or coloring than the "other guy."And
we, the consumers, get accustomed to - or even addicted to - that sweet, salty, zippy, "flavor
enhanced" taste. So, over time, use of these additives ratchets up - almost never down - and we
consumers end up eating food that is increasingly composed of chemicals and empty calories and
less and less real nutrition (processing often strips foods of nutrients, too).
For example, food corporations responded to the
publicity about the bad health effects of saturated fats by replacing them with what was thought
to be a heart-friendly alternative: trans
fats. But new research has now proved that trans fats are in
fact twice as badfor
your heart as saturated fats. Some studies say they cause up to 100,000 heart disease-related
deaths every year. Trans fats decrease cholesterol, all right - but it turns out they reduce the
"good cholesterol" (HDL cholesterol) and actually increasethe bad LDL kind. By increasing your LDL
levels, and also increasing your levels of lipoprotein and triglycerides, something that
saturated fat doesn't do, trans fats contribute to clogged arteries.
Trans fats can hide under a number of different names
on ingredient labels: Look for the terms "partially hydrogenated," "hydrogenated," or
"fractionated." Cutting out trans fats can make you 53 percent less likely to suffer a heart
High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup is another additive to
avoid. It's been linked to increased chances of arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, and
obesity. You'll have to give up all sweetened soft drinks to avoid it, and a lot of other things,
even cheap rolls and hamburger buns - so read your
Grains and Starches
Refined grains are another culprit, providing your
body with empty calories with much of the beneficial nutrients and fiber naturally present in
grain stripped away. Avoid white bread, white rolls, low-fiber cereal, white rice, and white
Replace them, consistently, with whole grain products
- like kasha or bulgur, dark bread, cooked oatmeal, brown rice, popcorn, bran, and others - and
see your risk of heart attacks go down by almost a third. Read the ingredient labels and look for
whole oats or whole grain with a high fiber content of two, three or more grams per
Avoid Processed Food
A great way to minimize the amount of processed foods
you eat is to start buying food at your local farmers' market, where you can eliminate the
middlemen and all their additives and practices. If you still shop at the supermarket, there
are organicfoods there
if you take the trouble to look for them. Use extra virgin olive oil for cooking, and consume
lots of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. A widely varied diet, eating foods
that are as fresh, unprocessed, and natural as possible should be your goal.
3. Don't smoke or abuse drugs:
Do I really have to tell you not to smoke tobacco or abuse
drugs, prescription or "recreational" (including alcohol)? Do I really have to tell you that
inhaling smoke - whether from cigars, pipes, cigarettes, or marijuana "joints" - is very bad for
your throat and lungs, proven again and again to severely increase your risk of painful,
irreversible, fatal cancer?
Do I really have to point out that overmedicating yourself to
"feel good" - as a substitute for having and happy and healthy lifestyle that naturallymakes you feel better than any
drug - is a very bad, health-destroying idea? Looking at human behavior as a whole, I suppose I
The human body was made to take in natural food and
drink that enhancebodily and mental function, notelevated levels of the artificial compounds of Big Pharma - or misused natural
substances that make you intoxicated. There's a reason the word "toxic" is contained within the
word intoxicated. There
may be exceptions for illness and extraordinary situations (for example, chronic severe pain is
more dangerous to health if untreated than the painkillers needed to treat it), but
overmedication as a lifestyle choice kills thousands of people every year, and blights the lives
Alcohol accelerates age-related brain deterioration,
which can manifest itself as early as age 30 and accelerates rapidly by age 50. Cognitive
deficits and an increased chance of dementia are associated with misuse of amphetamines,
"ecstasy," marijuana, heroin, oxycontin, and other opiates. In a very real sense, your brain
is you. Are you really
sure you want to impair it temporarily and possibly damage it permanently?
Think on these facts and then act:
A 30-year-old non-smoker of tobacco can expect, on
average, to live 18 years longerthan a 30-year-old smoker.
Heavy marijuana use can increase your risk of lung
disease, chronic cough, mucus, nasal congestion, and can trigger lack of motivation, decrease in
sexual desire, and weight gain - and long-term use can lead to significant deficits in memory,
attention, and other cognitive abilities.
Heavy alcohol use can take ten to 12 years off your
lifespan. Not only does it increase risk for heart disease, liver disease, and stroke, but your
chances of death by violence or accident are increased by alcohol abuse - and alcohol overdose
itself can be a cause of death.
4. Take a good vitamin supplement:
There's no substitute for eating a highly varied diet of fresh,
natural foods. You can't just pop a few vitamin pills while subsisting on a diet of junk food and
expect to be healthy - there are so many nutrients, minerals, fibers, and trace elements in good
food that no cocktail of supplements can adequately replace them. Scientists admit, furthermore,
that there are probably unknown beneficial elements in natural food that haven't even been
Nevertheless, taking vitamins and other nutritional
supplements can benefit your health: You can't always eat your preferred diet every day -
schedules and unplanned emergencies sometimes prevent it. Taking supplements can ensure that we
get specific required nutrients nevertheless. Some of us practice veganism or religious diets
that make it harder to get certain nutrients. Sometimes stress or illness depletes some elements
in our bodies, and age can cause lower production of certain hormones to below replacement
levels. Supplements can help in many of these situations, when lifestyle changes and intense
exercise are added to the mix.
A daily (sometimes several times daily for certain
formulations) multivitamin can make sure that you're getting the basic minimum nutritional
requirements for vitamins and certain other substances as set out by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration. Many anti-Aging physicians believe that some of the FDA suggestions for daily
vitamin intake are lower than they should be.
There are so many different brands and manufacturers of vitamins
and other supplements that it can be quite confusing to the end user. Several independent
organizations have testing procedures and manufacturing requirements that must be met before
their seal of approval - shown on the product's packaging - can be displayed. These include U.S.
Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab.com, Life Extension Foundation, and NSF International.
5. Exercise your mind:
For many years, the "received wisdom" in the health community
was that you could never increase the number of cells or neural connections in your brain - what
you were born with was what you were stuck with, and any losses, such as from injury or alcohol
abuse or aging, were permanent. You simply couldn't recover.
But the latest research has shown that that's not
true. With proper stimulation, nutrition, and exercise the human brain can create new brain cells
and connections between them. This growth of new cells -- called neurogenesis-- takes place in a part of the brain
called the hippocampus, which is associated with learning, memory, and emotion - and, properly
stimulated and nourished, this growth can continue throughout a person's lifespan.
connections between nerve cells in our brains, and our thinking processes are totally dependent
on communication between cells. This communication relies on the exchange of chemical signals,
called neurotransmitters, at each of these, literally, trillions of synapses. For proper mental functioning, our
brain cells and synapses must be maintained in top condition. Breakdown of cells and synapses can
occur due to injury, disease, disuse, or aging. Such breakdown can negatively affect our mood and
cognitive functioning, possibly leading to depression, memory loss, lower intelligence and
problem-solving ability, and, in extreme cases, even dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Stress, especially long-term stress, can cause
synapses to malfunction. Removing sources of severe, long-term stress can improve brain health
(and overall health, too). Loss of synapses can also be caused by alcohol, PCP, ketamine, and
exposure to heavy metals and pesticides.
One source of synapse dysfunction is totally under
our control, thankfully: lack of stimulation. A lack of proper stimulation has
recently been found to correlate with with reduced synaptic function, which, if it goes far
enough, can increase the likelihood of contracting Alzheimer's disease. It was found that older
subjects who had demanding jobs requiring a high degree of skill or education actually had
between 15 and 20 percent more synapses per neuron than average. Studies have also shown that
senior citizens who engage in mentally-challenging activities, such as working crossword, chess
or Sudoku puzzles, or playing a musical instrument, have significantly less chance of developing
Brain health and mental acuity are directly linked,
so follow these tips to maximize your synaptic function throughout your life:
Exercise - a good, and regular, workout maximizes brain function and
promotes the factors that allow brain growth. Don't sit and vegetate - keep that body moving!
Walk, run, hike, lift weights. It's good for your brain as well as your muscles.
Cut down on stress - relax, engage in hobbies, do
lots of pleasant activities with your loved ones, meditate, and don't overwork yourself. Chronic
stress actually damages the brain.
Expose yourself to mental challenges and new
experiences - take up activities you've never done before, learn a new and complex skill, visit
places you've never seen, do puzzles, read widely, meet new people, take classes in unaccustomed
subjects. All of these can be very beneficial in warding off the usual affects of aging on the
brain and can add many top-functioning, happy years to your life.
6. Be spiritual and positive:
Having a positive attitude can add years to your life - to be
specific, studies show that being positive about aging itself can add an average of
seven and a half yearsto your
lifespan. No one knows for sure why this is, but many researchers believe that there is a
connection between positivity and the will to live. Having a strong will to live encourages the
individual to take action to improve health, and positivity is linked to lower stress
Aging-positive people don't deny the beauty and
strength of youth, and in fact many exercise and stay in shape as much as their age allows, but
they also recognize that maturity and experience and depth of understanding can increase as we
grow older. Appreciation for one's own good qualities gives a sense of well-being that apparently
has a positive effect on health - and on how long we live.
believing that our lives are a part of something greater - has also been shown to help us live
longer. A study by the National Institute on Aging found that people who attended some kind of
religious service once a week were 46 percent less likely to die in a given period of time than
those who did not. Even when corrected for factors such as age, sex, race, prior health, and
other factors, there was still a 28 percent difference - comparable to the difference between
smokers and non-smokers!
It doesn't always seem to be the religious services
themselves that make the difference: Other studies have shown comparable benefits among people
who simply consider themselves spiritual- lowered blood pressure, less chance of suffering strokes, and less incidence
of anxiety and depression. You can also benefit greatly from the social networks you form when
part of a church or other spiritual community.
7. Boost your antioxidants:
One of the ways we age is through oxidationof our cells: Oxygen, as we all know, is
necessary for life - but oxygen also interacts with the other substances in our bodies, causing
cellular damage. Oxidation causes changes in body chemicals that result in particles
called free radicals.
Alcohol, cigarettes, and air and water pollution can also induce free radical production. Free
radicals damage cells, alter important body chemicals, and can even lead to changes in cellular
DNA, so cells don't reproduce properly and quickly die. Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer can
be exacerbated by free radical damage, and research has shown that the ever-increasing number of
free radicals in our system as we get older is a significant factor in the aging
An antioxidantis a natural or man-made substance that
can prevent or reverse the damage caused by free radicals. Though the body produces some
antioxidants on its own, it's a good idea to include antioxidant-rich foods as a substantial part
of your diet. Try whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, especially foods containing seeds and
nuts. Don't overdo supplements, but some that have antioxidant properties are vitamins E, C, and
A, as well as selenium, beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene.
8. Sleep well:
Humans evolved over millions of years to be diurnal creatures:
sleeping during the hours of darkness and being active during the hours of light. Acting in
accord with our inner nature is wise, and science confirms the health benefits of deep, long, and
regular sleep. You can juggle the hours around a bit, but consistently denying yourself proper
sleep can take years off your lifespan.
Of course, we all know that a tired driver or
equipment operator can end up dying violently, but that's far from the only risk. For the maximum
lifespan-boosting effect, researchers have found that, for most of us, sleeping more than six and
less than nine hours every night is best - with the higher hours best for young people and the
shorter best for older folks. Studies have shown that those who get regular, restful sleep have a
lower incidence of heart disease, depression, and stress-related disorders.
Here are some tips for sleeping well:
Shut out distractions while you relax and read, or
meditate, just before turning out the light.
Let your room temperature be a bit on the cool side
during your hours of sleep.
If others are up in the home, close your bedroom
door, and ask others to close theirs and be reasonably quiet.
If noises keep you awake, consider getting a "noise
machine" that can mask them with a rushing noise, a simulation of ocean surf, or other pleasant
sounds. Simply running a fan can help too.
Keep your room reasonably dark while you sleep. A
little light, like that from a night light (or from behind closed blinds if you must sleep during
the day) is all right, but flashing or moving lights (such as those from some modems, car
headlights, or a television screen) can easily disturb your tranquility.
9. Protect your skin:
Probably nothing affects your appearance more than your skin -
and no organ of the body is more subject to impact from your environment. One of the main factors
in aging your skin (and also possibly causing cancer) is sun exposure. The ultraviolet (UV) rays
of the sun can do damage to the microscopic underlying structure of the skin, and, even though
this damage can be almost invisible when you're young, it is cumulative. The days you spent
baking under the hot rays at 20 or 30 can really haunt you when you're 50 or more.
To avoid UV damage to your skin, severely limit your
time spent outdoors when the sun is most intense, roughly between 10AM and 2PM: 15 minutes or
less is best. And, when you must go out, wear a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or more, and
wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts, and wide-brimmed hats if possible. And don't smoke: Studies
show that smokers experience more age-related skin damage than non-smokers.
Although some inevitable effects of aging will impact
the appearance of your skin - the long-term effects of gravity on your cheeks, and the lines on
your face from your customary expressions repeated again and again over a lifetime, for example -
there arenutrients that
can help heal the skin from the inside out, and often these are more effective than slapping on
some skin cream or moisturizer. Vitamin D is vital for good-looking, healthy skin. It's not
naturally found in foods - the body synthesizes it from sunlight - so some of us need supplements
if we stay inside all the time or live at higher latitudes. Soy milk and foods containing vitamin
C are known to decrease wrinkling, and the caffeine that moderate tea and coffee drinkers consume
helps block a protein that skin cancer cells need to divide, providing some protection.
Vegetables, nuts, and whole grains are also thought to be beneficial in keeping your skin
10. Have a healthy sex life:
I'm sure that none of you doubt that having an active, healthy
sex life is beneficial. But not only does regular sexual intercourse give intense pleasure,
improve self-esteem, banish sadness, make the next generation possible, and foster closeness,
bonding, and love - but it also can improve your health and help you live years longer than you
could without it.
Here are some of the benefits:
Oxytocin is a chemical released during orgasm that
has been shown to increase trust and facilitate a bond of loyalty and love between partners - and
it also lowers blood pressure, calms the nerves, and counteracts the effects of cortisol, a
The more often a man engages in sex, up to once a
day, the less likely he is to get prostate cancer, according to an Australian study in 2003,
research later confirmed by the National Cancer Institute.
Women who have frequent vaginal intercourse have a
lower risk of breast cancer than those who don't.
Frequent intercourse enhances your ability to
communicate emotions effectively and leads to enhanced intimacy and honesty in interpersonal
communications, as well as an increase in self-esteem and sense of well-being.
Levels of the hormone prolactin rise significantly
immediately after orgasm, which can actually help form new neurons in the part of the brain
receptive to both smells and new memories.
Men and women who have sexual intercourse a couple of
times a week or more have higher levels of the antibody that fights colds and flu.
It's been proved that another beneficial effect of
oxytocin, released during orgasm, is a reduction in headache and body pain by as much as one
Most importantly, many studies have proved that an
active sexual life actually helps you live longer: Make love two times a week - or preferably
more - and you'll have a notably lower risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, and heart
What's the lesson here? Just this: You can take charge of your life, and
improve both its quality and length, to an extent never known before in history. By following a
few simple guidelines, investing some effort, time, and a little money, and by being informed by
the latest research, you can live longerand be happier- and be a better lover, partner, parent, and friend than you ever thought possible.
The only thing that can stop you is inertia - so get moving today!
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