Everyone, scientists, shamans, and laypeople alike, are looking for the proverbial “Fountain of Youth,” as that quest to ultimate key to radically extend the human lifespan continues; here are four lifestyle interventions you can do right; now, that just might help you live longer!
- Get Moving
Our evolutionary ancestors needed to move to survive. We do, too. We all need to be pushing ourselves, physically, especially as we get older — and yet only 10 percent of people over the age of 65 do. The good news is that we don’t have to exercise for hours on end. People who run four to five miles a week (for most people, that’s an amount of exercise that can be done in less than 30 minutes every other day) reduce their chance of death from a heart attack by 40 percent and all-cause mortality by 45 percent.
And it does not even have to be exercise; the important thing is to just “move it!” as the song says. So, if formal exercise is not your thing – walk the dog, wash the car, even have sex!
- Eat Less Often
We are also biologically wired to fast intermittently. For our ancient ancestors, it was often “feast or famine” with huge amounts of food available one day after the tribe managed to bring down a mammoth, and then it could be days between the next successful hunt.
Allowing our bodies to exist in a state of want — more often than most of us allow in our privileged world of plenty — is unquestionably good for our health and longevity. Most antiaging advocates agree that the single most important way to extend lifespan is to reduce your caloric intake. Allowing your body to not always feel full and satisfied has several health benefits.
- Eat Stressed Plants
Health-promoting molecules are produced in abundance by stressed plants; we get resveratrol from grapes, aspirin from willow bark, metformin from lilacs, epigallocatechin gallate from green tea, quercetin from fruits, and allicin from garlic. This may be evidence of xenohormesis—the idea that plants (our eukaryotic cousins, it should be noted) respond to stress by producing chemicals that tell their cells to hunker down and survive.
When we ingest these same plant chemicals that help plants thrive in tough environments, they have powerful antioxidant and antiaging effects in our own bodies.
Expand Your Thermoneutral Zone
Getting cold is a cool way to add some years to your life. Some studies have found that spending some time in the cold activates the mitochondria in your stored fat to burn fat and release energy in response to the cold. So you can mimic this response for a health benefit, so long as we’re willing to set aside a few modern notions of what “comfortable” means by forcing our bodies to exist — far more often than we typically do — outside the thermoneutral zone, or the range of temperatures that human bodies can withstand without a significant shift in metabolism.
David A. Sinclair, a professor in the Department of Genetics and co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School, and who also provided the other tips on this page, says, “I like to leave a window slightly open at night and avoid heavy blankets while I sleep. I don’t turn the thermostat above 69, and I turn it down to 67 at night.”