Tips for Making Your Time on Planet Earth a Little Longer
Recently a psychic told me that I was in my “last life.” That
sounded sort of ominous to me but she assured me that was a good
thing. “Enjoy!” she exhorted merrily.
I still don’t know what to do with that information. What has
been more helpful to me is a recent test I took which calculated
that I would live to the ripe old age of 94.8. Now that was helpful. At least now I
know that my financial planning for retirement is truly a joke.
The test utilized the impressive research from the New England Centenarian Study to determine the most
salient longevity factors. While there are many of these factors
that are a given and therefore not under our control (like our
gender, because statistically, women have a 10 year advantage over
men when it comes to longevity), there are many that we can do
These are the ones that I will share with you this week and
next. They make up a helpful checklist of things we can all pay
attention to in order to increase our health and life span.
1) Live close to relatives
Research has shown that life-zapping psychological stress is
increased when people do not have frequent contact with an extended
and cohesive family, resulting in an increased mortality risk. If
you can’t live nearby your relatives, you can work to have
meaningful and frequent contact. If you are estranged from family,
you might want to consider working on a rapprochement.
2) Drink more green tea, less coffee
Okay, I know I often offer support for one my favorite
addictions, coffee, as a health supplement, but as in all things,
moderation is key. Excessive coffee drinking can be indicative of a
life in need of boosting, one lived in the depleting fast lane of
stress. Coffee can chronically inflame the
stomach which can then open a door to other illnesses such as
uclers and heart disease. Tea, especially the wondrous green tea
favored by those long-lived Okinawans, is full of life-promoting
3) Drink alcohol moderately
Much has been written about this one. The research is mounting
up impressively in support of the many health benefits gained from
a moderate, even daily use of alcohol, not the least of which is a
lower risk of heart disease. “Moderate” is usually defined as two
drinks a day for men and one for women. Anything more will subtract
years from your life. The days of keggers and drinking games should
be a thing of the past.
4) An aspirin a day…
…may just keep the doctor away. Again, our odds for avoiding heart
disease are benefitted considerably by taking this humble pill. Its
credit for increasing our healthspan comes from its
anti-inflammatory effects as well as its ability to decrease blood
clotting. A baby aspirin is recommended.
5) Stay regular
Keeping “gut transit time” under 20 hours will decrease the odds
for contracting colon cancer. This is a science-y way of saying:
have regular bowel movements. More fiber in the diet and increased
exercise can help with this. There are always “cancer potentiating”
substances in our diet, and decreasing the contact time between
them and the gut lining can reduce the potential DNA damage and, in
turn, positively impact the rate of aging.
Despite what Starshine feels about the practice, flossing will
actually not only help your teeth stay in place longer but your
life as well. Recent research indicates that chronic gum
disease can release inflammatory, toxic substances and certain
bacteria into the blood stream which potentiate plaque formation in
arteries and ultimately lead to heart disease, greater risk of
stroke, and even accelerated aging.
8) Know your numbers
Having an annual medical check-up is pretty essential for those
concerned about their healthspan. Your doctor will always tell you
what your numbers should be, but you can take more responsibility
by knowing the numbers you need to make in order to be healthy.
Here is a quick primer:
For Cholesterol, HDL (“healthy” cholesterol) should be above 35
and LDL (“lethal” cholesterol) should be lower than 130.
Triglycerides should come in below 200. Blood pressure numbers
should be 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic) or less.
For a more thorough discussion on this, go to www.healthspanweb.com and click
on “Health by the numbers”.
9) Know your family history
Your gene pool is something you have had no say in. But if you
know what diseases have felled those who have come before you, you
stand a better chance of surviving them through vigilance and
preventative measures. Be sure and get questions answered about
ancestors from people who know while there is still time.
10) Examine thyself
Knowing how to test yourself for testicular cancer and for
cancer is the first defense against these two killers. Knowing
the physical signs of skin
cancer and doing a full body scan in front of the mirror can
alert you to potentially lethal melanomas.
Depression is another all too common life-curtailer.
11) Do the obvious
Live in a pollution-free environment and breathe deeply. Use
your seat belt; don’t drink and drive. Wear a full spectrum
sunscreen daily. And for God’s sake, don’t smoke!
Now here is the usual but very important disclaimer. Check with
your physician whenever contemplating any of these lifestyle
changes as their may be complications from other medical treatments
or conditions. Okay, maybe you don’t need to get her permission to
wear your seat belt, but such things as aspirin therapy and alcohol
consumption should definitely be discussed with your health
pratitioner. And any suspicion arising from a self-exam or
diagnosis should immediately be followed up with a medical
There are more things you need to consider. Next week,
Healthspan will report on the rest of the “longevity factors”. This
week, I will continue blogging at www.healthspanweb.com daily on
the subject of longevity and what we can do to promote it.