Longevity is described as the length or duration of life. This is contrasted from life expectancy as life expectancy refers to the average number of years remaining at a specific age.
Studies show that longevity is based on two major factors: genetics which accounts for 20-30% and the remaining is lifestyle choices over which we have control of. Thus we can say that we have a pretty good control on how long we want to live depending on the kind of life we live.
The following are some of the lifestyle choices that we can adopt to promote healthy living and increase chances of living longer lives:
1. Good nutrition: Good nutrition doesn’t mean that you have to steer clear of foods containing sugar and fats. Essential fatty acids are those fats that our body cannot make on its own, good fatty acids from avocados, flaxseeds, coconut oil and salmon are great ways to increase omega-3’s. Good fatty acids also play a great part in the metabolic processes. Sugars, on the other hand, give us energy to do our daily activities. Sugar from fruits and vegetables are the best source, all other manner of processed sugars and artificial sweeteners are no go. The best way to incorporate good nutrition to your diet is to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains that span a variety of different colors, especially those that are high on fiber, so that the body gets enough vitamins and minerals to promote the natural bodily functions.
2. Sleep: Getting a good night’s sleep makes wonders for your body. It is during this time of inactivity when the body undergoes repair and detoxification. There are 5 stages of sleep and the first 4 stages (lasting usually 90 minutes each) result to increased deep sleep. At this stage, brain waves become larger and slower and this puts us in a state of deep sleep (REM sleep). Since the brain is not taxed at this point, almost half of the blood that normally goes to the brain is diverted into the muscles to help restore energy. This also explains the reason why people who lack the required eight hours of sleep feel lethargic and are more prone to illnesses.
3. Exercise: Exercise protects the body from a host of illnesses including inflammation. Exercise promotes autophagy, a mechanism where surplus worn out proteins and other cell components are broken up and recycled by the body. Autophagy is a very old mechanism that may trace its roots most probably as a reaction to scarcity of nutrients. Regular exercise helps lessen free radicals in our body, promoting good health and strengthening our immune systems as well as lessening our propensity to get sick.
Our longevity is, for most part, depends on us too. How we treat our bodies mirror the way we want to live our lives. Having knowledge that we can do things so that we can prolong our lives is already a blessing in itself. It is then with conscious effort that we have to do our part in promoting and maintaining our own good health.
As always, stay safe, live well, fully and in the moment – embrace life!
Photo Credit: Randen Pederson