Reaching the old age is something one is going to change it's lifestyle. Here are some ways to learn how to live healthier and longer.
By Dr. Mercola
Do you want to live to be 100? How about 110, or even 120? Statistically, the younger you are, the greater your chances of reaching those milestones—that much is known.
There is even a fairly strong possibility that lifespans beyond 150 will be possible in the next few decades as improvements in 3D printing, stem cell, and nanotech continue to improve.
But when it comes to understanding the complexity of human longevity and all of the factors that determine your lifespan, there is much we still don't understand. Researchers have the advantage of an ever-growing pool of centenarians and supercentenarians. Supercentenarians are those rare individuals who live past 110.
Both demographics are growing. And the good news is, most centenarians and supercentenarians are quite healthy until very near the end of their lives. Research tell us that the older the age group, the later the onset of degenerative diseases and cognitive decline. Here are a few interesting facts about centenarians—who now represent the fastest growing segment of the American population:
- One quarter of children born today are expected to live beyond 100 whereas only one in 26 baby boomers will reach the century mark
- There are between 96,000 and 105,000 centenarians living in the US, and about 12,640 in the UK
- Research indicates that the number of American centenarians has been doubling every decade since the 1950s; by 2050, the number of centenarians living in the US is expected to pass one million
- There are about 65 verified supercentenarians living today, but unofficial estimates are as high as 350
- Approximately eight of every nine Centenarians are women; 19 percent use cell phones, 12 percent use the Internet, and three percent have participated in online dating
What's Their Secret?
Scientific explanations for longevity remain elusive. Researchers studying centenarians agree: there is no specific pattern.
There appears to be a connection between your longevity and the age your mother gave birth. Researchers at the University of Chicago Center on Aging found that if your mother was under age 25 when you were born, your chances of reaching age 100 are twice as high as for someone whose mother was older than 25. Makes me grateful my mother was only 19 when she had me.
This presumably has something to do with the robustness of a woman's eggs over time, but this is just one potential factor among many. According to Israeli physician Nir Barzilai of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York:
“There is no pattern. The usual recommendations for a healthy life—not smoking, not drinking, plenty of exercise, a well-balanced diet, keeping your weight down—they apply to us average people. But not to them. Centenarians are in a class of their own.”
Based on years of data from studying centenarians, Barzilai reports that when analyzing the data from his particular pool of centenarians, at age 70:
- 37 percent were overweight
- 8 percent were obese
- 37 percent were smokers (for an average of 31 years)
- 44 percent reported only moderate exercise
- 20 percent never exercised at all
Despite this, centenarians as a population have 60 percent lower rates of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.9 Depression and other psychiatric illnesses are almost nonexistent. Barzalai is quick to emphasize you should not disregard the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices (such as keeping your insulin level low). He explains:
“Today's changes in lifestyle do in fact contribute to whether someone dies at the age of 85 or before age 75. But in order to reach the age of 100, you need a special genetic make-up. These people age differently. Slower. They end up dying of the same diseases that we do—but 30 years later and usually quicker, without languishing for long periods.”
Four Nutrients That Will Help You Reach the Century Mark
The fact that you can manipulate your genes with happiness doesn't mean you can completely disregard lifestyle choices, as that would be foolhardy. The basics are still important—diet, exercise, sleep, etc. Research suggests the modern American diet is increasingly low in four important nutrients that have a direct bearing on aging, and our brains are suffering for it. If you hope to one day become a healthy, happy centenarian, you must address the following:16
- Vitamin D
Healthy Aging Is a ‘Package Deal'
There is no magic bullet when it comes to aging well. Generally speaking, the better you treat your body throughout your life, the better your aging experience will be. Most people do not revel in the thought of getting older because, for many, aging is synonymous with aches and pains, forgetfulness and loneliness. It is inevitable that you're going to get older, but I can tell you from personal experience that this need not be a bad thing!
Now, as I approach my 60th birthday in a few months, I am the fittest I have ever been—and I live every day to its fullest potential. I may have been able to run faster when I was younger, but I would never trade that for the muscle strength, flexibility and knowledge I have today. You too can achieve wellness on both physical and mental fronts, at any age. In fact, for me in many ways life continues to get better as the years go by.