"Health is real wealth, not pieces of gold or silver"- Mahatma Gandhi
"Live long and prosper"- Leonard Nimoy as Spock in Star Trek.
I have created a top 10 list that should keep you/your family healthy, help prevent disease and extend our lifespan. All these ten items will slow down the telomere loss and extend your lifespan. I will purposely keep this blog short and readable and many of the things I discuss will be covered in more detail in future disease/condition blogs.
As I look at "what to do" to stay healthy and live a long life. I have incorporated what I have learned through reading of books, (Blue Zone....), articles, studies (Okinawa centenarian study) etc. over the years. Read the next sentence slowly to capture the meaning of a long life.
75% of our health comes from lifestyle choices, 10% from environmental factors. Doctors/hospitals impact our health only 10%, genetics only 5%.
These numbers come from Dr. Mechley presenting at a wellness conference in 2013. His data is from studies from the CDC and is similar to percentages from other readings - books (Blue Zones), The Okinawa centenarian study and dozens of wellness articles. Maybe some of factors are off 5 % but not much more. Doctors and hospitals are necessary for us because of the poor diet and all the environmental toxins we ingest and the high rate of accidents. Our doctors and hospitals are best in world in emergency situations but they enter our life usually after medical problems occur and do very little in preventing disease.
Given the above factors that affect our health. Lets understand what lifestyle means - these are the things we choose to eat, drink, breathe (smoke) and how we exercise. Also where we live, jobs we take and how we handle stress. These are lifestyle factors.
Environmental factors are toxins in air, food, packaging. Food and water quality and housing conditions, etc. There is some overlap of lifestyle and environmental factors. So if you want to live a long life-eat the right foods and drink plenty of water, breathe clean air and water and live in a low stress area.
Top 10 Things you can do to be/stay healthy, disease free and live a long life:
1. Eat a healthy diet. This means an anti-inflammation diet not our U.S. diet recommended by our government agencies or AMA. Future blogs will discuss the anti-inflammation diet and what to avoid. Diet will be the biggest factor in your overall health. Also realize occasional fasting (missing a meal or two a week) will also lead to extended lifespan that has been proven vs just eating regular meals all the time. This is a form of a Calorie Restriction diet.
2. Avoid/minimize toxins. We are bombarded with hundreds of toxins daily in our foods, air and water. I will cover additional toxins in other blogs but we need to minimize toxins like BPA, BPDE , food additives , GMO foods, mercury and many others. Toxins are the main cause of many cancers, ADHD, autism, and other diseases including Alzheimer's and Thyroid disorders. There will be two blogs devoted to Toxins. If you want to understand toxins and how badly we are inundated with them and why we get disease, watch the 42 minute video (even if you skip parts..) from Dr. Bergman.
3. Eat high quality foods and buy green products. Buy organic food and grass fed beef/pork & chicken and wild caught fish. Eat fresh veggies vs canned and avoid farmed fish of any kind. Eat butter from grass fed cows vs "Smart balance (omega 6 products)". Buy "Green" products for household and personal use to avoid toxins. Use only coconut oil or olive oil for cooking, discard all omega 6 oils like canola, peanut,safflower, soy, corn oil etc. This means staying away from all processed foods such contain these fats and omega 6 fats will be covered more under the Inflammation blog.
4. Minimize Stress. Stress in children and adults affects our nervous, endocrine (hormone) systems and effects our blood pressure, heart rate etc. Learning to manage stress via relaxation techniques (and prayer) is critical to avoid long term consequences of various illnesses, stressful jobs and taking care of loved ones. We need some stress in our lives but not too much for to long a time frame. Future blog on this topic as well.
5. Exercise. We need to exercise not just to lose weight, but maintain healthy circulation system. Eighty percent of all US adults do not meet exercise requirements according to CDC. Exercise helps reduce stress and sweating is key to help us get rid of toxins. We need to exercise 5 times a week for 15-30 minutes (walk 10,000-20,000 steps/day and sweat during exercise 1/2 times week). Muscle toning is important as well. Buy a pedometer, fitbit or whatever- get moving. This will covered more under the Diabetes blog.
6. Stay social and give/take love affection. Social interaction is critical for mental health and stress. The giving and taking of affection/love is equally important for young and old for a good emotional well being. Check out Loma Linda US residents and why they live 10 years longer.
7. Have annual visits to doctors and dentists. This is a necessary preventative check on your health by getting screening tests and to have diagnosis of issues done quickly to prevent chronic illnesses or cancer etc. However, you must be do your homework and be your own advocate including any action taken on doctor recommendations. You must take responsibility for your own health and ramp up on basic health and nutritional knowledge. In these visits, it is up to you to ask for tests that you need/want vs just listen to what your Doc says.
8. Do not smoke and drink alcohol only in moderation. Smoking causes cancer and other lung disorders and will shorten your life by 5-10 years. Alcohol causes liver problems. However, an occasional glass of red wine is OK. Micro beer is cool, but dark malted beers contain high levels of nitrites which are bad actors in our system.
9. Have Faith. Denomination does not matter but belief in God and praying is important as is attending faith based services. There is a social and spiritual importance to this factor. Spiritual healing is real and studies have shown you will live longer if you have faith in God.
10. Drink lots of water. In order to get rid of toxins and keep our system in balance we need at least 64 oz/day of water. Avoid milk, juices (sugar) , sodas ( diet or regular) as a substitute. Green tea or herbal tea is OK or 1-2 cups of coffee that are is organically grown.
Follow these tips, which are "best practises," and you will live longer and have a good quality of life. I will provide more detail on many of these in future blogs.
How do we achieve that 120 year goal? Lets do a typical business gap analysis: 120 years is the goal, we are (in U.S.) at 79 years leaving a gap of 41 years. If we all practice the no alcohol ,smoking, exercise and plant based diet of Loma Linda, CA we go to 89 years ( women you get bonus of 5 years). If we reduce the gap between rich and poor in this country (14 years) to allow everyone the opportunity to get quality food, housing and clean water, the average for U.S. goes up by 7 to 96 years.
Many cancers (number 2 killer) and Alzheimer's ( #4 and rising ) are lifestyle oriented vs genetic (future blogs). Reducing our toxic environment and toxins in food (future blog) and reducing inflammation through quality food intake alone would increase lifespan by another 5 years by looking at early death rates (CDC data) and just cutting them in half takes us to about 101. Having quality health care and getting our hospitals to practice Six Sigma Quality of the 21st century would eliminate almost all those 400,000 people dying from "heath care" intervention. That effort alone would increase average lifespan by at least 4-5 years, the low end of tobacco impact.
We are now at 105 years and we have the big one, calorie restriction which in all studies of yeasts, bacteria, insects, animals from mice to primates have shown to increase life span by at least 20% (future blog) . So now our non scientific but estimated lifespan takes us to 130. Some of the above benefits may be double counted but the point is - a 120 year lifespan is doable and can be done without any medical breakthrough! Women, you have the best shot since 80% of U.S. Centenarians are women.
The game plan to a long life is laid out above if you follow the above top 10 factors. The journey to 120 years of wellness requires a big change of attitude and behaviors. We need help from our government to help get rid of toxins in food, air and water. At my age, I will not make it to 120 and maybe not even 90 because of my past transgressions of lifestyle living but I hope our children and grandchildren will adopt the above items into their lifestyle so they can "live long and prosper".
"Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food"- Hippocrates.