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Category Archives: Longevity Medicine
Our friend, the telomere
Studies of the nutritional impact of milk, like those of other single foods, are all over the map, some showing benefits, other risks. Researchers have focused, of late, on the fat content of milk, thinking that the devilment is found in that particular fraction. This current study uses a unique biomarker, the length of ourtelomeres. Telomeres are the caps on the ends of our chromosomes, keeping them separate from one another. Over time, those telomeres shorten and lose their protective role. Telomeres are considered a biomarker of cellular as compared to chronological age. Truth be told, chronologic age is a significant factor in telomere shortening, but lifestyle, diet, and even the great villain oxidative stress play a role. 
Although much is understood about diet, oxidative stress, and cellular longevity, the role of cows milk consumption, particularly milk fat, remains unclear. To date, the relationship between milk fat intake and telomere length has rarely been studied.
The researchers made use of our old friend, NHANES, or the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, which collected telomere lengths as part of a national sample between 1999 and 2002. That yielded roughly 7,800 DNA samples as well as information on milk and other nutritional consumption. Telomere length was measured in a scientifically objective and exacting way. Consumption of various foods was measured through self-reporting of whether participants drank milk or used it in their cereal, never, rarely (less than once a week), sometimes (once a week or more), or often (daily or more).
Additionally, they were asked about the fat content of their milk (whole, 2%, 1%, skim, nonfat). Of course, the usual covariant suspects like age, gender, ethnicity, smoking, BMI, and physical activity were also noted.
For those mathematically inclined and who like a good scare, the reduction in the base-pairs was about 69, meaning that drinking whole milk would add 4+ years to your chronologic age. So you might come away with the belief that whole milk isnt going to kill you outright, but it will age you. But wait, there is a bit more data to consider.
Fiber intake is associated with longer telomeres, as is the consumption of less dietary fats. So it is hard to implicate milk as the only nutritional factor at play here. The authors write:
Some of the dietary differences revealed among the milk fat groups were likely due to the milk composition differences that exist across the milk fat categories. However, it is possible that other dietary differences account for some of the biological aging differences among the milk fat categories. .
Apparently, if total saturated fat intake is low, the amount of milk fat consumed matters little and does not relate to biological aging. However, when total saturated fat intake is high (or moderate), milk fat consumption plays a significant role in cellular aging and telomere length.
We are left with a true, true, but not necessarily related conclusion. Whole milk consumption does reduce telomere length, whether that ages you is a different conversation. But whole milk consumption is a marker of high-fat consumption overall, so to say that milk is the underlying culprit is problematic. And that, in a nutshell, is the great difficulty of nutritional studies, we eat a variety of things, and it is the interaction and aggregation of them that may play a role. There is no one superfood, and there is no one superfood villain.
 Oxidative stress is related to mitochondrial leakage and subsequent oxidation and is the misunderstanding underlying the prescription of specific anti-oxidants to retard aging.
Source: Milk Intake and Telomere Length in US Women and Men: The Role of Milk Fat Fraction Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity DOI: 1155/2019.1564021
How to live longer: Doing this exercise just once a week can increase your life expectancy – Express.co.uk
Exercise provides innumerable health benefits, all of which coalesce to increase your life expectancy by protecting against chronic health complications.
According to Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can offer defence against a number of potentially life-threatening mechanisms, such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Emerging evidence also suggests it may be a potent weapon in the fight against cancer.
Despite the palpable health benefits, knowing what exercise to do and how frequently to do it can seem overwhelming if you are a beginner.
A recent study published in the British Journal of Medicine suggests that the life-extending benefits of exercise can be achieved without getting bogged down in technical details, however.
The results of a pooled analysis found that running, a low-maintenance exercise that can be easily incorporated into your day, significantly lowered risk of death from any cause.
To gather their findings, researchers analysed swathes of data from relevant published research, conference presentations, and doctoral theses and dissertations in a broad range of academic databases.
READ MORE:How to live longer: This simple activity may increase your life expectancy
They looked for studies on the association between running/jogging and the risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
When the study data were pooled, any amount of running was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of death from all causes for both sexes, compared with no running.
And it was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and a 23 percent lower risk of death from cancer.
Crucially, even in small doses running had an outsized effect, for example, once weekly or less, lasting less than 50 minutes each time, and at a speed below six miles (8 km) an hour, still seemed to be associated with significant health/longevity benefits.
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This suggests that running for 25 minutes less than the recommended weekly duration of vigorous physical activity could reduce the risk of death.
Increasing the frequency and duration of running wasn't associated with a further lowering of the risk of death from any cause, however, the analysis showed.
In their concluding remarks, the researchers said: "Increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity."
If you have not been active for a while, you may want to ease into running, gradually increasing your fitness levels by walking first, says the NHS.
Once you develop more confidence, it is advisable to get a good pair of running shoes that suit your foot type may help improve comfort, explains the health site.
There are many types of trainers on the market, so get advice from a specialist running retailer, who'll assess your foot and find the right shoe for you, explains the health body.
To get into a running routine, it is also wise to plan your runs and work out when and where you're going to run and put it in your diary.
The NHS also recommends increase your pace and distance gradually over several outings to avoid injury and keep the experience enjoyable if you are starting out.
Start each run with a gentle warm-up of at least five minutes. This can include quick walking, marching on the spot, knee lifts, side stepping and climbing stairs, advises the health body.
As the health site points out, regular running for beginners means getting out at least twice a week.
Your running will improve as your body adapts to the consistent training stimulus, says the health body.
It's better to run twice a week, every week, than to run six times one week and then do no running for the next three weeks, it adds.
High-Tech Gets The Headlines But Low-Tech Can Cut Health Care Costs And Save Lives – American Council on Science and Health
#This excerpt was reprinted with permission. The full articlecan be readon theIssues and Insights site.
Much of the progress in medicine during the past half-century has involved expensive, high-tech diagnostic tests and therapies. The trend in this direction worries health economists and politicians because it has the potential to send already high health care costs into the stratosphere. Health care spending in 2017 reached $3.5 trillion, or a whopping 17.9% of the nation's gross domestic product, according togovernment statistics.
However, there is an important role as well for ingenious, low-tech, less-expensive approaches to improved health and increased longevity. The question is, how do we make them financially attractive?
The high-tech miracles will continue to garner headlines, but to control health care costs we will also need simpler and relatively inexpensive innovations. That has policy implications. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger wrote (in a different context): "We must continue to seek the affordable and plentiful at the expense of the exquisite and few." That applies to health care as well.
There has been confusion for several years over link between carbohydrate restriction and mortality. Some studies said that low-carb diet leads to premature death risks; while the others stated the opposite. Did you too get confused with these controversies? If yes, then here's something that might help you to breathe a sigh of relief. A new study has stated that there is no link between overall carb or fat restriction and longevity. It is rather associated with what you eat. The study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine journal, said that low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets may be associated with mortality, depending on the "quality and food sources of macronutrients".
This study included a total of 37,233 adults from the United States. During the years of follow-up, a total of 4866 deaths occurred. The researchers found that mortality rates remained similar between people who followed low-fat, low-carb diet and who did not. This concluded that there is no such association between low-carb, low-fat diet and mortality. It was rather found in the study that unhealthy low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets lead to high mortality; whereas healthy low-carb and low-fat diet decreases the mortality rate.
Through this study, it can be understood that we must keep a check on what we eat, even if we are going on a low-carb diet.
Now, keeping all your worries and confusion aside, add goodness to your low-carb or low-fat diet and lead a healthy life.
(This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.)
In a groundbreaking new clinical trial, three patients suffering from mild to moderate degenerative memory loss experienced a reversal of their misfortune as a result of a new medical regimen.
Alzheimer's was first outlined around a century ago, although it has surely existed throughout human history. And for one hundred years, scientists and medical professionals attempted without success to find treatments which would benefit Alzheimer's patients, leaving them resigned to neurological degeneration and the meager benefits of palliative care.
Fortunately, a new and revolutionary treatment regimen may be the beginning of a sea-change with regard to Alzheimer's therapy and treatment. In this study, ten participants were provided a comprehensive and personalized regimen with the ultimate goal of reversing their memory loss. In the end, nine out of the ten patients benefited from the treatment, experiencing enhancements in their memory capabilities in the first three to six months of treatment.
Memory Issues Significantly Impacted Patients
Out of the nine patients, six had major issues which made their work difficult, or forced them to quit their jobs. Every one of those six patients was able to either improve the quality of their work or get back in the work force as a result of the benefits provided by their treatment.
This clinical trial is long term, and 2.5 years after the first treatment regimen began, all patients have retained all of the benefits of their memory therapy. Patients in this preliminary study suffered from a few different forms of degenerative memory loss, including Subjective Cognitive Impairment, Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Alzheimer's Disease. Although the personalized treatment was successful for patients suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, the one patient that did not respond effectively to treatment was deep into the progression of Alzheimer's, and was simply too far gone for the treatment to be successful.
How Were Patients Impacted by Memory Loss?
The following are three patient profiles, of the ten patients that were treated:
One patient had been struggling with a deteriorating memory for two years. She was still working, but issues with her memory were getting in the way of her ability to perform her job, which involved data analysis and creating reports. In addition to her issues at work, she was also beginning to have trouble correctly remembering the names of her pets, and she was starting to lose her sense of place and direction while driving.
A second patient was also having issues at work, specifically with regard to his schedule and his coworkers. He would often simply forget the names of the coworkers he spent extensive time with, and he also had trouble remembering the combination to his gym locker.
A third patient had significant memory issues. In order to keep track of her thoughts and her schedule, she had to record everything important into her iPad. Her kids started to notice problems as well. For example, she would often forget what she was saying in the middle of her thoughts, and she would frequently forget to request that her children perform certain tasks, while later on believing that she had done so.
As you can tell, all three of these patients were having major issues in their life because of their degenerating memory.
Comprehensive Therapeutic Approach First of Its Kind
This clinical research trial was the result of the combined efforts of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the UCLA Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research. Of all of the studies conducted in the last century regarding Alzheimer's disease, this is the only study thus far that suggests that memory and neurological health can be maintained and improved in at-risk patients through the use of an intensive 36-point therapy regimen that focuses on a variety of aspects of one's life. The following is a short list of the aspects of this comprehensive approach:
- Sleep Optimization
- Physical Activity
- Mental Stimulation
Using this comprehensive approach, it appears possible to reverse the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's in at least some patients.
This study was released in the academic journal, Aging, and the lead researcher of the study is Dr. Dale Bredesen, the Director of the Easton Center and the University of California-Los Angeles. Dr. Bresdon is also an Augustus Rose Professor of Neurology at the University.
The following image is that of an Alzheimer's Patient. Patients with Alzheimer's have smaller brains than healthy patients, the result of deterioration of tissues within the brain.
Drugs Alone Ineffective at Treating Alzheimer's
For decades, researchers have attempted to find a pharmaceutical drug which effectively treats Alzheimer's Disease and its related memory degeneration, to no avail. There are a few drugs that have been found that can mitigate the symptoms very slightly, but no drugs have been effective at changing the course of the disease or even slowing its progression. Over the last ten years, there has been over a billion dollars spent worldwide in an effort to treat Alzheimers, and scores of clinical trials have produced little tangible benefit.
Of course, there are a variety of other chronic conditions which have been treated effectively through the use of combination therapy, but these approaches have not been thoroughly tested in the paradigm of memory disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Conditions such as HIV, cancer, and heart disease are not treated particularly effectively by one particular drug, but by a combination or medical approaches including pharmaceutical, nutritional, physical, and/or radiation therapy. By combining approaches, huge strides have been made in the treatment of these conditions. For example, HIV/AIDS, which was practically a death sentence in the 1980s, is simply a chronic condition for many men and women across the country that are able to live perfectly normal lives in spite of having a once life-threatening disease.
As We Learn More About Alzheimer's, Successful Treatments Are Just Around the Corner
The last two generations of Alzheimer's Disease research have changed the way that doctors think about the disease. It is apparent and obvious that genetics plays a central role in the disease, but a variety of other factors are also at play in how Alzheimer's Disease takes place and progresses. Some have even likened Alzheimer's Disease to other chronic and degenerative conditions such as Osteoporosis. As a result of this research, it has become apparent that a broad approach to Alzheimer's is likely necessary to produce real results, as no individual aspect of the ideal treatment will be as potent as the sum of its parts.
Although no “cure” or effective treatment has been previously found with regard to Alzheimer's, that is not to say that strides have not been made in the science of understanding Alzheimer's and similar degenerative neurological diseases. For example, a number of studies have implicated specific different factors which appear to contribute to the incidence and pathology of Alzheimer's, but no single treatment based off of that acquired knowledge has been effective at treating Alzheimer's.
No Single Approach Will Cure Alzheimer's
All science to this point suggests that Alzheimer's disease is brought on by a number of factors, and that, although one form of treatment may be scientifically sound, it may not produce significant benefit unless combined with other approaches which affect other aspects of the condition. It appears that combining treatment options into a synergistic program can provide real results for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
Where previous studies failed, Dr. Bredesen found inspiration for his combination therapeutic approach. He feels that these “silver bullet” Alzheimer's treatment strategies don't take into account the full breadth of the causes of the disease, and that is why they don't benefit the patient sufficiently.
Alzheimer's a Degenerative Disease Related to Lifestyle?
In his clinical research, Dr. Bredesen has discovered significant evidence that the root cause of Alzheimer's Disease is the result of a malfunction in the way that nerve cells interact with one another to form a cohesive memory. In an optimally functioning brain, there are processes which support the maintenance of important memories while also allowing unimportant memories to be forgotten. It appears that some people have brains which malfunction over time, and the brain starts to suppress and delete memories that are important, from where you left your keys to the names of your coworkers or even your family members.
Previous Hypotheses Regarding Alzheimer's May be Incorrect
This goes against the current popular hypotheses regarding the source of Alzheimer's disease. It is commonly hypothesized that amyloid beta peptides are the source of Alzheimer's, believed to be proteins run-amok in the brain, degenerating brain matter, beginning in the areas of the brain associated with memory and cognitive function. Although many researchers believe that these proteins are toxic, they do provide vital functions in the healthy brain. They are proteins that are supposed to promote the deterioration of memories which are unimportant.
Dr. Bredesen hypothesizes that the issue isn't that these Amyloid Beta Peptides are toxic, per se, but because they are normal proteins in the brain that are functioning in overdrive as a result of other underlying factors, which contributes to the degeneration associated with Alzheimer's Disease.
This means that, in essence, Alzheimer's is the result of a collection of factors which cause these proteins to act in a degenerative fashion, and that these proteins specifically are not the root cause of Alzheimer's, but the way that those causes manifest themselves in the brain of the patient.
Alzheimer's Treatment Analogy
Dr. Bredesen uses an analogy to describe how his approach works—Say that you have a roof filled with leaks. Each leak needs to be patched to keep rain out of the house. The roof represents the brain, and each hole in the roof represents a single symptom of Alzheimer's disease. Each Alzheimer's drug has the capacity to patch one of these holes, but simply patching one hole isn't going to secure your roof, and you're still going to be in a heap of trouble. A comprehensive approach to Alzheimer's seeks to use a variety of different approaches in order to patch each individual hole, resulting in a leak-proof roof and a brain in recovery.
Therapeutic Treatment Regimen Designed to Meet the Patient's Needs
The approach that Dr. Bredesen has designed is specific to each patient and his or her needs. Each patient goes under thorough evaluation, in order to figure out exactly what is going on in the patient's brain, and what is leading to the cognitive and memory issues plaguing the patient.
Lets take one patient in particular, a patient that found herself getting lost on her way home from work. The following are the changes made to the patient's life that led to her cognitive recovery:
- A nightly dose of melatonin
- Twenty minutes of meditation, twice each day
- Yoga classes to relieve stress
- Increased consumption of wild-caught fish, fruits, and vegetables
- Elimination of processed food, gluten products, and simple carbohydrates
- CoQ10 supplementation
- Fish oil capsules
- Vitamin D3 Supplementation
- Methylcobalamin Supplementation
- Seven-eight hours of sleep each night
- Daily use of electric toothbrush and electric flosser
- Thirty minutes of exercise at least four times per week
- No food for 12 hours after dinner and before breakfast, and no food three hours before she went to bed
- Reinstatement of Hormone Replacement Therapy, which she had used in the past
All ten patients followed a unique regimen, but each regimen did take cues from the regimen listed above. By following the detailed and personalized program assigned to them, all of the patients but one experienced improved memory, and were able to sustain that improved memory over the course of an extended period of time. The patients are still under treatment, and still being followed to assess the long term effectiveness of the treatment.
Of course, Dr. Bredesen notes, that this study is the first of its kind, and was not fully controlled. In order to more fully assess the effectiveness of the treatment, a future study will be needed with a wider array of patients as well as a more controlled atmosphere. Of course, all signs point to the success of a program such as the one that Dr. Bredesen prescribed to his clinical patients, but the specifics need to be more sufficiently ironed out.
Alzheimer's Treatment Appears Effective, yet Complex
The main issue with this therapy regimen is that it is incredibly complex. Because of how many parameters the patients are supposed to follow, it is inevitable that the patients will have a difficult time sticking to every aspect of the regimen as prescribed. In fact, none of the ten participants were able to follow the therapy regimen perfectly. The two primary issues that the patients and their helpers had with the treatment was that they had to take so many pills each day, and that the lifestyle and nutrition guidelines were a huge change to their normal day-to-day routine.
However, Total Adherence Unnecessary for Alzheimer's Treatment to be Effective
In a way, both the complaints and the inability of the patients to follow their personalized programs to a T, is beneficial to proving the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer's Disease as described in Dr. Bredesen's hypothesis. That the patients had to undergo a significant lifestyle change showed that their current lifestyle was one that was not conducive to optimal health, both physically or psychologically.
Secondly, the fact that the patients were able to benefit greatly from the treatment without following it strictly provides evidence that Alzheimer's disease is not the result of any single factor, but a collection of factors which contribute to neurodegeneration. By treating multiple factors of that degeneration simultaneously, it is possible to produce real and significant gains in cognitive health and memory capacity, but each factor of treatment plays only a small, synergistic role. Even limited non-compliance specific to each patient still led to results.
Alzheimer's Treatment Benefits both Body and Mind
In addition to providing neurological and psychological benefits, it is also notable that this therapeutic regimen also led to a significant improvement in overall health as well as body composition. Many drugs which are currently used in an attempt to treat and mitigate Alzheimer's actually have negative side-effects which can deteriorate both health and body composition.
Dr. Bredesen is cautious, as any scientist should and must be, but he does admit that the results of the study are incredibly promising. And, given the lack of success with other Alzheimer's protocols, it makes a major statement that this study had a 90% success rate, with the only patient that did not respond being in a significantly poor neurological state.
Future Study Considerations
With the efficacy of the treatment illuminated, there are a variety of other questions that must be answered, and those questions can only be answered with a full-scale clinical trial. The following questions must be answered:
- How deep into cognitive decline can this treatment regimen reverse Alzheimer's Disease?
- Does this treatment regimen produce long-term or life-long results?
- How much improvement can the average patient expect to see from such a treatment?
- Is there a difference in effectiveness dependent upon a patient's family history of Alzheimer's Disease?
As men and women in the United States live longer and longer, preserving neurological health becomes one of the biggest concerns of aging patients. As treatments for cardiovascular disease and heart disease become more advanced and mortality rates from these conditions decline, the next big issue that must be tackled to achieve longevity is treating conditions like Dementia and Alzheimer's which become more common as a patient enters their seventies, eighties, and beyond.
Alzheimer's Is an American and Global Epidemic
Alzheimer's disease is common in America, with almost 5.5 million elderly patients with the disease. Across the world, there are more than thirty million patients with the condition. As populations worldwide continue to live longer and longer, it becomes more and more important to figure out a way to effectively treat or prevent Alzheimer's. In 36 years, it is believed that as many as 13 million Americans will have Alzheimer's disease, a fraction of the 160 million people world wide that will likely experience the condition.
As men and women lose the ability to sufficiently take care of themselves as a result of cognitive degeneration, the societal costs of the condition become significant for a family, and across a society, the scale is astronomical. Finding a way to prevent or cure Alzheimer's is one of the most important areas of study in medicine today. With no cure or effective preventative treatment, the cost of Alzheimer's treatment alone could leave Medicare bankrupt.
Most other chronic health conditions in America have peaked or have fallen in incidence over the years, but Alzheimer's continues to become more common, largely as a result of our extending lifespans and the improved treatment of cancer and heart conditions. Today, Alzheimer's is approximately the third leading cause of mortality in the United States, behind just cancer and cardiovascular disease.
When we talk about what it takes to live a long life, we have a tendency to get hung up on the physical parameters associated with wellness, whether it be diet, exercise, or the myriad of other lifestyle factors associated with a healthy life. On the other hand, however, the way we live and enjoy our lives plays just as much of a role in longevity as our physical wellness.
Although smart nutrition and regular exercise both play a role in a healthy heart and a healthy body, when researching people that live long lives, especially those over the age of 100, there aren't a whole lot of factors that can be definitively associated with long life.
Longevity Not Always Associated with Health Choices
For example, two groups that have a tendency to live the longest are Okinawans from Japan and Ashkenazi Jews. Both have a tendency to have some habits that you might not associate with long life. For example, the Ashkenazi are more likely to drink to both be drinkers and smokers. They are also more sedentary than the average man. Okinawans, on the other hand, consume a lot of dairy and starches, and they also have a high-sodium diet.
There's one woman that's 107 years old, and she doesn't trust modern medicine, has never practiced a fitness lifestyle, and practically considers butter a food group. Furthermore, there are others that claim that their longevity is due to caloric restriction, whereas others that are able to reach the same age with a diet full of sweets, wine, pork, and liver.
So, based on these brief descriptions above, it is clear that there are a number of paths to longevity. Perhaps none are devoted to extreme excess, but different lifestyles can still be conducive to a long and healthy life.
Genetics and Longevity
One of the main factors associated with longevity appears to be genetics. Different people have different genetic predispositions which allow them to live longer than others. This is both with regard to individual-individual and culture-culture. Perhaps some cultures have lived a similar lifestyle for so many generations that their bodies have acclimated, allowing them to live a long life? Who knows? Of course, don't think of longevity as entirely predetermined, there's so much more to it than that, and there is a lot that you can do to maximize your lifespan.
Personality and Longevity
Diet, nutrition, and activity level play some role, but, perhaps surprisingly, it appears that your social profile and your personality play a significant and undeniable role. Are you happy? Do you feel like an active participant in your own life? Do you live with purpose? All of these are factors which keep your body primed and ready to take and enjoy what is thrown at you.
Your personality and your predisposition are factors which are engrained and genetically influenced, but you do have a huge amount of control over both. You don't have to resign yourself to the way you've been. You can make the concerted effort to facilitate such factors in yourself and improve both your quality of life and potentially your longevity! At worst, you won't live any longer, but you'll get more joy and pleasure out of every year that you have left!
The Following are Seven Social and Personal Characteristics Associated with Enhanced Longevity:
Social Connectedness is Important for Longevity
A big part of living a more profound and happy life is to cultivate bonds with your family and community and facilitate interconnectedness. When we live our lives solo, or don't reach out to others or maintain social contacts, it is a burden on us which inhibits health and wellness. Of course, don't think of connectedness as some sort of race. It's the quality of your relationships and their importance to you that matters over the quantity of connections that we make. Everyone understands in this Facebook culture how it feels to have connections to others which don't add meaning to your life.
One of the primary drives in our lives is to feel important to others and feel that we are making a difference—that we add something to someone else's life that makes you feel invaluable to them. And the best thing is that these are the types of relationship which are reciprocal and fulfilling.
In addition to this, people that are surrounded by those that they care about are more likely to reach out for help when they need it. If life gets tough they have someone to turn to. On the other hand, people that don't foster these relationships are more likely to develop habits which are conducive to poor health, such as smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and obesity. There is even evidence that being around people that you care about helps stressful situations have less of an effect upon cardiovascular response. These connections even appear to enhance the strength of the immune system!
What Can I Do to Foster Strong Social Relationships for Longevity?
Even though things like Facebook can create interpersonal distance when used passively, they can be a great way to actually set up and arrange to hang out with your friends and family. Make the concerted effort to arrange plans and actually follow through. It's easy to get locked into a pattern and even avoid the people that you love and care about because you get so fixed on not making waves, but understand that there are a lot of people out there that would love to see you, and they are just a text, phone call, email, or message away. You have to remember that the same reasons that you haven't reached out to your friends are why they haven't reached out to you. It's no one's fault. Just make the call!
Conscientiousness and Thoughtfulness Lead to a Long Life
Awareness plays a big role in longevity. People that are more rash and prone to impulsiveness are more likely to get into accidents, fights, or other activities that can put them at risk. In 1921, a massive study followed 1500 children from childhood to death, and they discovered that the children that took the time to plan out their actions and those that engaged in thoughtful persistence had the greatest chance of living deep into old age. On the other hand, the positive and happy children were less likely to do so.
The children that grew up thoughtful were more likely to have strong relationships and be health conscious, while less likely to take risks. Also, the conscientious children were more likely to have jobs in which they were successful and satisfied with. The four attributes which were most likely to lead to a long life were conscientious discipline, organization, industry, and persistence. People that are conscientious as children are most predisposed to thoughtful action and therefore most likely to continue that thoughtfulness throughout their lives. Happy, optimistic children were more likely to turn into adults that didn't pay enough attention to their diet, and were more prone to poor habits.
People that are prudent and thoughtful are more likely to retain their cognitive function deeper into the lifespan, and this may even be associated with a lower incidence of Alzheimer's Disease. People with these characteristics are also more likely to handle stress more effectively, or at least able to reach out for help more quickly. Of course, these attributes can also turn into negative factors. Prudence can easily become compulsiveness, and thoughtfulness can become anxiety, for example.
What Can I Do to Become More Thoughtful and Conscientious?
Although the study discussed above followed children from an early age without influencing their outcomes, there's no reason you can't make the effort to improve your thoughtfulness. Take the time to organize your life. Make plans and stick to them. Maintain a budget and keep track of it. Not everyone is a natural at this sort of thing, but by sticking your mind to it, you can make yourself organized and conscientious through a mix of want-to and brute force. It's also important not to rely solely on your own interpretation of your thoughtfulness. Get perspective from those around you and allow them to hold you accountable for your own desires and plans.
Don't Dwell on Anxiety and Worry to Live a Longer and Happier Life
While becoming more thoughtful and prudent can extend your life, getting worried and anxious can shave years off your life. When you dwell and focus too much on the negative, you put yourself on edge and increase the catabolic actions of depression and cortisol. If you obsess over things that cause you anxiety, you lose touch with the things that make your life enjoyable.
Emotional anxiety can even lead to physical stress, which can impact your health heavily in the short and long term. Stress can disrupt healthy sleeping habits, and it can increase your blood pressure. It can make you more likely to become obese as well as more likely to experience life-threatening conditions such as stroke and heart attack.
Don't let go too much, however. Anxiety is a tool that your body uses in its attempt to keep you on the right path, and if you throw it off your shoulders entirely, you could end up putting yourself in potentially risky and dangerous situations in which you could get yourself into some serious trouble! Acknowledge your stress and work to mitigate it, but don't cast it totally from your mind.
What Can I Do To Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Life?
Worrying is a subconscious activity that takes control of your conscious thought processes. When you start to feel anxious and stressed, take the time to thoughtfully process those feelings and take steps to mitigate that stress, either through action or by recognizing that what is causing you worry isn't nearly as big of an issue as your brain is making it out to be. Whenever you feel worried about something, Stop, think, and answer the question “Why is this worth worrying about?” More often than not, you'll realize that things that feel big are really not important or worth caring about when you really think about it.
People also have a tendency to worry about things that people have done to them, or worry that they might have done something wrong. Try to make the effort to maintain an open dialog with those around you. Also, don't be afraid to forgive. Holding grudges is a major source of anxiety and worry that is ultimately pointless.
Take what you learned from the previous step and take action to limit stress and worry. Grab a sheet of paper and write down the things in your life that make you worried. Stop and think clearly about all of those things and then rewrite the list according to which issues are most impactful upon your life and which are more minor. Strike out the minor issues that don't really matter, and make the effort to push worries related to these subjects out of your mind. Regarding the more major issues on your mind, use this time of reflection to plan out a course of action to make these larger worries less troublesome.
Other options include meditation and herbal supplements and teas which are designed for relaxation. Even scents can be beneficial. Lavender, for example, is scientifically proven to induce feelings of relaxation.
People that Are Optimistic Tend to Live Longer
This may seem a bit odd, given that optimism in children was linked to lower longevity, but it's important to recognize that optimism and positivity during adulthood is different that being born with optimism. There are a number of studies that show that optimism does a lot of powerful things to increase resiliency. As compared to pessimists, optimists are more likely to take care of themselves and brush off stress. Seeing the glass half full provides immense benefits to the individual.
In fact, there are scientists that hypothesize that evolution selects for positivity and optimism. People that are optimists are more likely to meet or exceed their expectations. When things get tough, they are more likely to keep a smile on their face. People that are optimistic are more likely to push harder to survive and persist. When faced with diseases like cancer, optimists are more likely to survive because of their will to fight.
How to Foster Optimism in Your Own Life
Like any other character trait, we have innate tendencies and predispositions, but they can be manipulated and adjusted. If you feel that you are not as much of an optimist as you want to be, take the time to take stock of your negativity or issues seeing the bright side of your life and your circumstances. Understand that even if things seem tough, you probably have things going alright in the big picture.
Hesitation breeds pessimism. If you are feeling down on yourself, and you have something that you want to do, just throw yourself out there and face your fear. You'll feel relief that you followed through on your impulse, and you'll see that things aren't as terrible as they seem. Optimism is bred through small victories, and those victories will get easier to come by over time.
People that Know How to Laugh Easy Are More Likely to Live Longer
Study after study has shown that laughter is powerful. It diffuses social situations of all kinds, and it even improves blood flow, circulation, and hormone balance. The feeling that you get when you laugh is great, and the inspiration for the laughter is often a comfort as well. There is even evidence that laughter increases the strength of the immune system, improving the ability of the body to fight off infection and cancer.
When you laugh, it acts as a switch to slow down the parasympathetic activity that burns you down and stresses you out. There is even evidence that laughter alters the way that your body uses Human Growth Hormone for the better. Although HGH has a number of widespread benefits, there is evidence that it can exacerbate rheumatoid arthritis. In these patients, laughter has been shown to limit the influence of HGH upon the joints.
How to Laugh Easier to Cultivate Longevity
Unlike the earlier character traits, it doesn't even take a concentrated effort to improve your ability to laugh. Just find a show, movie, podcast, or funny book that you like and relax. Laughter comes natural to human beings as long as you open yourself up to it. Get with your friends. Hang out. Cut up. Make some jokes yourself! Do whatever it takes to put a smile on your face and a laugh in your heart.
People That Are Happy Are More Likely to Live Long Lives
This may seem like a no-brainer, but people that self-report happiness are more likely to live a long life. A recent study, published in 2011, found that aging patients that reported themselves to be happy had a longer average lifespan. Surprisingly, the influence of happiness on longevity persists strongly even when a number of other variables were taken into account, such as their current health, age, and weight.
Like laughter, it is hypothesized that the feeling of happiness encourages positive physiological balance, and feelings of happiness have been shown to relieve the pains and struggles associated with many chronic medical conditions.
Of course, happiness and optimism are related, and they share many aspects in common. Like optimists, people that are happy are more likely to feel like their lives have meaning and purpose, and are more encouraged to engage in positive and enriching activities. There are a wide variety of influences that encourage happiness. A loving family, a fulfilling job, and enjoyable life experiences just to name a few. The feeling of happiness, divorced from its cause, is enough to facilitate a healthier life.
What Can I Do to Live a Longer and Happier Life?
One of the best ways to be happier is to get out and engage with life. It's difficult, if not impossible, to cultivate happiness just through want-to. If you struggle with depression, there are treatments available that may be able to help, but its still up to you to facilitate your own happiness. Just take the time to do things that give you joy and provide you with meaning. Happiness is largely the result of cultivating the other characteristics in this life. There are a million things in this world that can make you happy, you just have to go out there and find them.
Also, be willing to make short term sacrifices to enjoy more meaningful happiness. Take the time to create a world around you that allows you to be happy. Procrastination is a happiness-killer, because you spend your time dwelling on the things that you are supposed to do and don't give yourself the time to really appreciate what you want to do. Understand when to put your nose to the grindstone to fight through to the joy in your life!
Extraversion is Associated with a Longer Life
People that are extraverts tend to foster a lot of other character traits that are associated with long term health and survival. People that are extraverts are more likely to take positive risks, and do what they want to do in spite of the risks. They are more likely to remain impervious to negative influences in their life, thereby cultivating improved happiness and purpose.
This isn't to say that it's strictly bad to be an introvert. This is actually one thing that could be culturally specific to America and the West. The fast-paced world that we live in today naturally benefits the type of person that is willing to get out and participate, while leaving many introverts wanting more, or unable to actualize their wants and needs.
Extraversion makes it easier to simply do a lot of things that introverts tend to find exhausting or have trepidation about, such as presentations, business meetings, interviews, and flirting. Of course, there's nothing wrong with being an introvert. It's just important to either come to terms with that fact or make the conscious effort to take the dive.
What Can I Do to Be More Extroverted and Live Longer?
A big part of cultivating extroversion is to get yourself out of your comfort zone. If you are an introvert and don't like it, look at those around you that are more extroverted and try to emulate certain aspects of their social aspect. Sometimes just getting out there and putting yourself out in front of people is all you need to let the rush of endorphins carry you through the rest of your interaction.
Make the effort, at least once daily, to talk to someone that you wouldn't normally talk to. It's important to separate the concept of isolation wfrom that of introversion. You don't have to get out and be wild, you just have to get out and learn to enjoy yourself, even if you aren't as naturally gregarious as many of those that you find yourself in the company of.
Like all of the rest of the traits in this article—Learn to appreciate yourself while also facilitating incremental change!