16 ways to extend healthspan and life expectancy
- Stay mobile and exercise
- Keep a healthy body-weight
- Remain metabolically flexible
- Improve flexibility and balance
- Maintain muscle mass
- Conduct periodic long-term fasting (72-96 hours)
- Eat green leafy vegetables and super-foods
- Take antioxidants
- Consume fish and olive oil
- keep your mind sharp
- Get quality sleep
- Improve gut microbial diversity
- Stay socially engaged
- Get up early and expose yourself to early sunshine
- Reduce environmental toxins
- Don’t smoke and drink alcohol in moderation
Aging is a complex process of senescence that triggers various negative pathways such as oxidative stress, systemic inflammation, metabolism dysfunction, telomere shortening, mitochondrial dysfunction, and deregulated autophagy.
Being able to Increase life expectancy is a big deal. This article lays out the case that The Longevity Industry will be the Biggest and Most Complex Industry in Human History.
Make no mistake, when we talk about lifespan, we really mean healthspan.
No one wants to live until they’re 110 years old and live their last ten years staring out the window in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, bedridden or in a wheelchair. So, how can we live not only longer, but more importantly, longer and healthier?
Here are the top 10 leading causes of nonaccidental deaths. Source: Center for Disease Control (CDC)
- Heart disease
- Lower respiratory diseases
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Influenza and pneumonia
- Kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
- Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis
Increasing lifespan, healthspan and longevity is a huge topic. There are extensive books on the subject so my goal here is to research the topic from the teachings of the leading longevity researchers and experts. I will come up with at least a partial consensus and break down “how to increase human lifespan” into layman’s terms for easy understanding.
Here are 7 longevity experts I compiled some of my information from:
- Professor Valter Longo
- Dr. David Sinclair, Harvard Medical School
- Dr. Peter Attia, Stanford/Johns Hopkins
- Vamsi Mootha, M.D
- Chris Masterjohn, Ph.D
- David Sabatini, M.D. Ph.D
- Alan S. Green, M.D.
After extensive research on this topic, the consensus among the experts’ as the #1 way to increase healthspan, hands down is exercise.
“Subjects who never smoked, follow a healthy diet, are adequately physically active, and consume only moderate alcohol have a mean life expectancy that is 11.1 years longer than those who practice none of these healthy life behaviors”.Journal of Aging Research
Exercise is by far the #1 way to increase your lifespan, healthspan, and longevity.
Every single one of the experts agrees on this one. Exercise is the best way to live a longer healthier life. Exercise stimulates numerous positive metabolic conditions in the body. It improves insulin resistance, stabilizes blood sugar, stimulates blood flow, builds muscle and strengthens bones. Exercise stimulates autophagy and delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.
Exercise can prevent Alzheimer’s disease because of the improved blood flow to the brain. The blood flow helps clear out the amyloid plaque that can build up. It also helps improve cognitive function (memory, reasoning, judgment, and thinking skills.
This article states that as many as 1 in 3 cases of Alzheimer’s disease were preventable through lifestyle changes.
Don’t drink sugary drinks like Gatorade while you are working out.
Glucose, dextrose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, galactose….read the ingredients and lay off the sugar. It’s not needed and can actually blunt the positive effects of exercise by raising your blood sugar to unhealthy levels. If you are sweating a lot you might need water and electrolytes but not sugar or carbohydrates. Let your fat be your fuel so you stay metabolically healthy. Here is an article that explains just how sugar is unhealthy.
Both aerobic exercise and anaerobic activity are needed. Anaerobic exercise or resistant training, helps preserve muscle mass and strengthen bones, connective tissue, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Here is an article on building muscle on a low carbohydrate diet.
Work on keeping good balance throughout your entire life: Prevent falls
The number of deaths from falls among U.S. adults aged 75 or older rose from 8,613 in 2000 to 25,189 in 2016. Falls are the leading cause of both serious brain injury and hip fractures, and more than half of hip fractures prove fatal within one year.
“Several steps can be taken to minimize the risks of falling and related injuries, including weight bearing exercises, such as walking, balance exercises, resistance exercises to strengthen muscles, prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.
Review medications that may cause (low blood pressure) or loss of balance, correction of vision impairments, correction of foot problems or unsafe footwear, and correction of any home safety issues.”Dr. Marco Pahor, Institute on Aging at the University of Florida in Gainesville
Exercise with a balance ball to maintain balance and prevent falls as we age
Is there a limit to human lifespan?
That’s yet another controversial topic. Recent research suggests that maybe there is not an actual specific time limit to lifespan. A French woman named Jeanne Calment lived for 122 years and 164 days. She died in 1997 and is the oldest verified super-centenarian in the last 20 years. Supercentenarians are people that live longer than 110 years.
A Bowhead whale can live for approximately 200 years. One was recently killed that still had harpoons in their bodies from about 1890.
“By analyzing the lifespan of the longest-living individuals from the USA, the UK, France and Japan for each year since 1968, investigators found no evidence for such a limit, and if such a maximum exists, it has yet to be reached or identified.”McGill University, June 28, 2017
You have to do maintenance on your body’s cells to increase life expectancy.
Just like your automobile, if you want it to last longer you have to do periodic maintenance on it. The best way to perform maintenance on the human body is to stimulate autophagy.
What is autophagy?
Autophagy is a self-eating process and is primarily cytoprotective, tissue-protective and anti-inflammatory. It (Autophagy) also plays a housekeeping role in removing misfolded proteins, clearing damaged organelles, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and peroxisomes, as well as eliminating intracellular pathogens.
Autophagy eats old damaged/corrupted cells and initiates the regeneration of new, efficient cells.
Lowering inflammation is one of the keys to increase lifespan and improving health. This study published on The National Center for Biotechnology Information shows that Autophagy balances inflammation.
mTOR controls several biological pathways and is known to be involved in the aging process. It (mTOR) stimulates anabolism, including nucleotide, lipid, and protein synthesis while inhibiting autophagy. It also stimulates cellular growth and proliferation. Low insulin/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-I) and lack of amino acid availability suppress mTOR.
Suppressing mTOR stimulates autophagy
Autophagy has been shown to improve the immune system, mitochondrial dysfunction, cellular senescence, and reverse the decline in stem cell function. Protein restriction extends both life span and healthspan in mice and was linked to a reduction in cancer, diabetes, and early death in humans.
- Food restriction/fasting (especially protein and carbohydrates)
- Absence of the amino acid leucine and methionine
- Sirtuin 1 activation
- Inhibition of insulin/insulin growth factor signaling
- Pterostilbene and resveratrol
- Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)
- Indole-3-carbinol (DIM)
Cycling anabolism and catabolism is the key to improving longevity
Anabolism and catabolism are the two components of our metabolism. Anabolism builds complex molecules from simpler ones, while catabolism breaks large molecules into smaller ones.
Living in a constant state of anabolism is like constantly driving your car 100 MPH. Excess and constant anabolism can cause tumor growth, inflammation, high insulin, enlarged organs, fatty liver and cellular, and mitochondrial damage. Too much growth signaling can also lead to misfolded proteins and damaged organelles.
The body must be in harmony to increase lifespan and longevity
Subsequently, you don’t want excess catabolism either, yes some of it will induce autophagy and repair, but too much and the body will waste away and you will lose muscle mass and bone density.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
There’s some truth to that age-old statement. That’s why interval training and bodybuilding works so well. When you break something down in your body, it regenerates stronger to adapt to the stress. Approximately 70% of the entire immune system is found in the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and the urogenital tract. Autophagy eats the old dysfunctional cells and regenerates an almost entirely new, young immune system.
Fasting is the secret sauce to increase life expectancy.
“To date, fasting is the only non-genetic intervention that has consistently been found to extend both mean and maximal life span across a variety of species.”National Center for Biotechnology Information
Occasional long term fasting is the safest drug-free way to initiate autophagy and increase life longevity. How long and how often you need to fast isn’t exactly clear at this point. Autophagy is very hard to measure and no one knows exactly how long of a fast is needed for autophagy. Plus it will likely vary from person to person.
Here is Dr. Peter Attia’s method for nutritional longevity: He adopts a ketogenic diet for seven days, then follows that with a seven-day water-fast, and then another seven days on a ketogenic diet.
He does this once a quarter. Dr. Attia says that going on a keto diet prior to his fast helps his body get fat-adapted. You can read more about the importance of the fat-adaptation process here. He also stated the reason for his post-fast seven-day keto diet period is so he doesn’t binge out and overeat.
For myself, I am on a permanent ketogenic diet. I try to do a 72-hour water-fast every quarter. Also during the work-week, I only eat once a day (OMAD). I loosely follow a time-restricted eating period of 20:4. Twenty hours of fasting with a four-hour eating window.
There is no right or wrong way to fast and we have to find a system that we can live with. For more detailed information on the types of fasts you can read this source. Intermittent Fasting and OMAD Guide.
The Fountain of Youth
When searching for the Fountain of Youth in the year 1513, what if the Spanish explorer Ponce de León traveled to the island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) instead of Florida? Ponce might have discovered Rapamycin. Mysteriously, Rapamycin was found in the soil of Easter Island in 1964. Rapamycin is named after Rapa Nui, the Polynesian name for Easter Island.
Rapamycin was originally used as an anti-fungal agent and then later as an immune system suppressant to keep the body’s immune system from rejecting transplants. It’s also FDA approved as an anti-cancer drug. Recently it has shown amazing ability to increase lifespan in a similar way that fasting does, by suppressing mTOR.
This study shows that Rapamycin can increase the longevity of mice by 9% for males and 13% for females. That’s pretty powerful considering the mice that were treated were already 20-months-old, which is equivalent in mouse years to a 60-year-old human.
Alan S. Green, M.D. has a Rapamycin clinic in his home in Bayside, Queens, NY. Even though it’s not approved by the FDA for longevity, it’s not illegal for a doctor to prescribe it. He usually prescribes a 6 mg dose once a week. Dr. Green says bacterial infections happen in about 5 percent of patients. “I’ve had a few skins and soft-tissue infections, which I treated with antibiotics,” he says.
Be careful with Rapamycin or you might end up like the Rapa Nui.
OK, I admit that’s hyperbole, there’s no evidence that Rapamycin killed the Rapa Nui, but it’s not approved by the FDA for longevity and might not be safe in the long term. Rapamycin’s immune system-suppressing power might leave the user susceptible to infections. Rapamycin should only be used under close doctor supervision.
Bear with me while I digress a little and talk about Easter Island
Settlers/explorers from the area of present-day Polynesia arrived on the island somewhere between 800 and 1200 AD. How and why the Rapa Nui civilization disappeared is still a mystery. The Rapa Nui built 887 Moai statues approximately 13 feet tall that hauntingly stare across the island. It’s also a mystery how they moved the giant 14-ton stones around the island.
Could Rapamycin’s immune system-suppressing action have made the Rapa Nui susceptible to a disease-related local epidemic and caused the human extinction on Easter Island?
Can Metformin reverse aging?
That’s a tough question. At present, the mechanism underlying the proposed beneficial effects of Metformin on lifespan extension is not well understood. It seems to work by tricking the body into thinking it’s in a fasted state by remodeling energy consumption distribution.
This study published on PubMed with adult male silkworms demonstrated a lifespan increase of 9.45% using low dose Metformin. Like Rapamycin, Metformin is a prescription drug and should only be used under doctor’s guidance.
NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide/riboside)
NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide/riboside) has been shown in preliminary studies to improve mitochondrial health. While Nicotinamide Riboside does show promise, I will have to wait until more data comes out on its efficacy before I include it on my recommended supplemental healthspan list.
Increasing NAD levels in your body can be beneficial and I have seen some research that shows nicotinamide riboside increases levels in the liver, but I haven’t seen any concrete proof that NAD increases the body’s cells that can actually use it.
What’s the best diet for longevity?
The purpose of this article is not to promote one diet over another. It’s obviously a controversial topic. So instead I will focus on areas that are a consensus. Most (not all) experts agree that the best diets for longevity are ones that stabilize blood sugar and include:
- Plenty of green leafy vegetables and moderate intake of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.
- Foods are high in omega 3 fatty acids.
- Grass-fed, organic, free-range and wild-caught meat (at least occasionally).
- Fermented foods.
Here is an article that discusses the various diets and explains which one’s are the best long term diets