Centenarian reveals SURPRISE drink that helps her live longer
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While the age we ultimately reach can be completely beyond our control, there are a number of things we can do to improve our longevity. Many of these revolve around lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise. But the way we manage our mental health is also key.
Doctor Noel Young, clinical innovation associate at digital health company Thriva, said: “While our life expectancy may be increasing, our health span – our time spent in good health – still remains much lower than expected.
“Chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, which are driven in the majority of cases by lifestyle, are very common and are associated with faster ageing.
“These conditions are linked to shorter telomeres – the protective caps at the ends of our DNA – which cause cells to stop dividing or die once they get too short, which is increasingly what happens when you age.
“The good news is, adopting certain lifestyle changes can help prevent chronic diseases and the faster ageing that accompanies them.”
He explained: “Studies have shown that adopting four simple behaviours can help prevent almost 80 percent of chronic diseases – having a fibre-rich diet, maintaining a healthy weight, never smoking and being active for 30 minutes a day.
“A similar study found combining healthy behaviours could add 14 years to your life.”
In addition to this, Dr Young recommended other ways to prevent early ageing are
Sit less often
We are becoming increasingly sedentary, and as we age it’s harder to build muscle. We lose around one percent of our muscle mass every year from around the age of 35. This puts us at risk of osteoporosis, frailty, falls with injuries like hip fractures as we age. So keep active in your day to day.
Be choosy about what you eat
Fibre-rich foods like vegetables, beans, grains and fruits are linked with longer telomeres and improved lifespan. These foods are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene as well as other antioxidants.
The fibre they contain in itself is also an important nutrient that helps regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol levels and maintain a healthy gut biome. Including sources of healthy fats like fish, avocado and nuts is also important.
Some foods are linked to worse health outcomes and shorter telomeres. These include foods like red and processed meat, sugary drinks like soda, and alcohol. It’s best to limit these as much as possible.
Manage your stress
Stress in the short term is helpful as it primes your body for action (the fight or flight response) by leading to increased activity in your nervous system and the release of hormones like adrenaline. If continued in the long run however, it can have a detrimental effect and is associated with shorter telomeres.
Optimise your blood sugar
It’s a good idea to be mindful of your blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves and increases the risk of diabetes as well as other chronic diseases in the long run.
Blood sugar levels rise naturally after eating food so you can reduce this by cutting back on sugary food and drinks and refined carbohydrates (white bread, potatoes and pasta).
Some animal studies have shown that eating less often, like restricting your food intake by narrowing the time during which you eat, can help combat the effects of ageing.
It’s thought that this puts the body in a state of mild stress, which leads to genes being switched which activate cells. It’s important not to engage in this if you have an eating disorder or are underweight however, and if you have any medical conditions speak to your doctor first.
Some promising studies have come from supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids. These can be found in fish oil, but vegan versions derived from algae exist too. Some trials suggest that supplementing with these anti-inflammatory compounds may increase telomere length, and they have other beneficial effects like helping to manage blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels which is beneficial for your heart health.
Another important nutrient is vitamin D. Low levels are tied to shorter lifespans, and it’s recommended to supplement in the UK during the winter months as it’s quite hard to obtain through food sources.
Shorter telomeres are associated with not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation also increases the chance of unhealthy behaviours like not exercising and eating sugary and fatty food, which increases your disease risk.
It’s important to get seven to nine hours of good quality sleep per day.
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