Let’s do a roundup of the top strategies for extending health and fitness into advanced age; it is a good thing to review what we know works on a periodic basis. Here are two numbered lists of the DON’Ts and DOs to help the average human to a long and healthy life. I present them roughly in the order of damaging or beneficial influence.
- Don’t use recreational drugs – ever – nothing will take you down faster. Addiction is the fast-track to an early death and a life of misery.
- Don’t smoke cigarettes, they are highly addictive and quitting is nearly impossible for some, easier for others, but it is better never to start or quit NOW. Other forms of tobacco are easier to give up, and the smart thing is to eliminate it from your life. Lung cancer is very bad for fitness and longevity, and it is very rare in those who never smoked. Emphysema is likewise a bad way to die or live with.
- Watch the alcohol intake; many studies show that, on almost all counts, some is better than none, but too much will take you down. It is subtle, the love of the buzz, but it upsets neurotransmitter production and balance, and using it to get to sleep compromises the restorative power of sleep.
- Get off the stimulant rollercoaster; eliminate the use of caffeinated energy drinks, sodas, coffee on a regular basis. Tea is a different story; virtually all studies and history show that drinking teas regularly improves health.
- Get off the carbohydrate rollercoaster; especially if you are carrying too much body fat, eliminate sugar, grain-based manufactured foods, chips and baked goods. Cut back on the potatoes and rice; eat more colored vegetables.
Now for some important DOs:
- Order your life to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep on a regular basis. Insufficient or poor quality sleep biases our bodies toward Metabolic Syndrome – type II Diabetes in just a few days. It is the #1 stressor today’s world, and has a profoundly negative, chronic effect on overall health, immune function and brain function.
- Eat real foods – build your eating style around fresh vegetables, fruits and animals. The closer you get to a hunter-gatherer diet, the better your chance at life-long health. Fear not real fats that occur in nature; eliminate artificial, manufactured and refined fats that are long-term toxic to life and promote chronic inflammation. Balance your omega-6/omega-3 fat intake as close to 1:1 as possible. Limit or eliminate cheap, grain-based, sugar-filled, manufactured products and baked ‘stuff’ that comes in a bag, box or can (No MSG).
- Move your body – focus on strength, flexibility and conditioning, in that order. Use 3 days/week for strength training, have a daily stretching routine and do aerobics on the other three days, with a day of complete rest and recovery. The older you are, the more you need the strength/stretching part. Independent living is over the day you don’t have enough leg strength to stand from a chair.
- Get plenty of sun on your skin or supplement vitamin D if you work/live indoors like most of us. We would make about 10,000IU per day as primitives living outdoors in our ancestral lands, so taking 5000IU/day as a supplement is not unreasonable for the modern lifestyle. Vitamin D deficiency has in recent years been found to be linked to both cancer and heart disease and loss of immune function. It is no accident that flu season is near the end of winter when the levels of this vitamin are waning in the upper and lower latitudes.
- Get fresh, clean water to drink as your primary fluid intake. The best situation is to get a whole-house filter system so that pure chlorine/fluoride-free water comes from every tap and shower. Concern is growing about estrogenic chemicals leaching from plastic bottles we have grown so fond of. A glass thermos is a better way to carry water for pure drinking.
There you have the short version of the most important habits to divest or cultivate for life-long health and fitness. Add to this by taking the supplement Resveratrol (the magic stuff in red wine) for life. The remarkable thing about Resveratrol is that it promotes the same gene expression as Caloric Restriction, the only proven strategy to date for extending healthy life span in every life form tested. The odds are good that 100 to 500 mg/day could lead to 15 – 30% increase in healthy life span for humans as well – yet to be proven, but hey, wouldn’t we like to be part of the proof.
Good Living – Frank
Frank Wilhelmi – Retired/consultant electronic engineer researches and reports practical strategies for optimizing health and fitness into advanced age. “I have a passion for living life to the fullest, and helping others to do the same.” A rapidly growing body of knowledge now enables us to extend our health and fitness decades beyond popular expectations.