Longevity 101: The Ultimate Guide To Increasing Your Healthspan & Lifespan
In a world where the quest for longevity can seem like navigating a vast ocean, we bring you a practical guide to help you set sail.
The pursuit of a long, healthy life is universal, yet the vastness of the health and wellness market can make this aspiration feel daunting, or even unattainable.
Fear not, for there are practical, scientifically-backed changes you can make to your lifestyle right now that could significantly extend your healthspan and lifespan. This guide is designed not just to inform you, but to empower you – to transform the complexities of longevity into something accessible, actionable, and realistic.
Our approach is different. We're not going to inundate you with an avalanche of advice or sell you on the latest trend with little scientific grounding. Instead, we've meticulously designed a tiered action plan that respects your time, understanding, and resources. As shown in the table of contents below, this guide is structured into three distinct sections: Level 1 (beginner), Level 2 (intermediate), and Level 3 (advanced).
Each level unfolds with increasing complexity, practicality, and futuristic elements.
We start with the basics – lifestyle changes that are accessible to anyone and have robust scientific evidence to support their impact on health and longevity. As you progress, the advice becomes more advanced and closer to the frontiers of longevity research and biotechnology.
This guide to longevity is more than just a list of tips. It's a comprehensive roadmap that respects where you are on your journey and grows with you, each step of the way.
We live in an exciting time for longevity biotech, where the potential for life extension is rapidly evolving. Yet, we believe it's essential to understand the basics before venturing into the more advanced and speculative aspects of this field.
In essence, this guide is a commitment to you, our reader. A commitment to provide clear, actionable, and scientifically-backed advice on your journey to a longer, healthier life.
Welcome to the start of your longevity journey.
ATTENTION: All information within this guide is based upon reputable third party research, such as the NIH, the WHO, and a variety of internationally recognized medical journals. We STRONGLY recommend consulting your personal doctor or medical professional before replicating or pursuing any specific longevity strategies mentioned in this guide. Spannr assumes no responsibility or guarantees for the content contained within this guide.
Level I: Beginner Longevity Strategies
Aging and longevity are dynamic processes, and there are lifestyle choices that you can make today that can have long-term repercussions on your health.
Research shows that approximately 20% of a person’s longevity is determined by genetics while 80% is largely due to lifestyle factors such as diet, sleep, and exercise.
Research also shows that avoiding the four unhealthy lifestyle behaviors of heavy smoking, red meat consumption, heavy drinking, and obesity is associated with a 14 year increase in life expectancy.
Even in older individuals over aged 80, remaining life expectancy can be increased by adopting five or more healthy habits, such as regular sleeping patterns and dietary choices.
Therefore, following the 8 longevity-focused lifestyle tips in this level of longevity can help you live healthier for longer.
Many of the simplest and most practical longevity tips are followed by some of the oldest-living populations.
The ‘blue zones’ are regions of the world with the highest number of centenarians (people aged over 100 years). The term was coined in 2000 by Drs. Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain while studying centenarians and longevity in Sardinia, Italy. There are currently five accepted blue zones in the world:
- Okinawa (Japan) - 68 centenarians per 100,000 people
- Ikaria (Greece) - ⅓ of the population lives past 90
- Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica) - 57 centenarians live, and 1,010 nonagenarians
- Sardinia (Italy) - 38.6 centenarians per 100,000 people
- Loma Linda (California)
Despite each of the blue zone’s geographical separation, scientists believe that centenarians in various regions share common routines that contribute to their longevity, which we can learn from to form a longevity blueprint.
By studying the habits of centenarians and conducting studies in humans and animals, scientists have identified several keys to living a longer, healthier life.
Some of the most important lifestyle habits are discussed below:
1. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet is one of the most effective changes you can make to extend your longevity, and is a common trend in the blue zone regions.
Research has shown that a healthy diet high in legumes, nuts, and whole grains and low in red and processed meats, combined with periodic fasting, can extend lifespan by over 8 years if started at age 60, and up to 13 years if started at a younger age.
Some of the most evidence-based changes you can make to extend longevity are described below:
A nutrient-dense diet is rich in beneficial nutrients relative to their calorie content. The Mediterranean diet which mainly consists of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains is a great example of a nutrient-dense diet which has been associated with reduced risk of age-related diseases and longer lifespan.
Consciously selecting better food choices can greatly change the quality of your diet. For example, choosing whole-grain pasta in place of white pasta can reduce risk of developing type 2 diabetes by around 30%. In addition, opting for low-fat dairy over full-fat dairy can help reduce your risk of hypertension and insulin resistance.
Limiting sugar consumption can reduce the rate of biological aging. Research has shown that excessive sugar consumption has many negative effects on the body’s metabolism that are associated with chronic inflammation, diabetes, joint diseases, and certain cancers. In the Blue Zone regions, centenarians generally have low sugar intake.
Caloric restriction has been shown to extend lifespan in multiple species including worms and mice. Restricting total calories has been associated with numerous longevity benefits in humans such as improved metabolism, better insulin sensitivity, lower cardiovascular risk, and improved liver health.
A diet low in calories is a common characteristic across regions of the blue zones. Individuals who restrict their caloric intake have similar markers of health to centenarians such as low blood pressure and optimal hormone levels.
2. Optimize your sleep
Sleep has been linked to many areas of physical and psychological well being, and is a key factor that contributes to longevity.
Sleep deprivation has been associated with decreased immune responses and increased activity of stress and inflammatory pathways associated with aging. In fact, sleeping five or fewer hours per night can increase mortality risk by 15 percent.
Sleeping too much can be equally dangerous. A study of 30,000 individuals discovered that those sleeping nine or more hours had a 23% higher stroke risk and those napping 90+ minutes daily had an 85% higher risk.
Research suggests that centenarians from the blue zones sleep 7 to 9 hours per night and take regular naps, which decreases their stress levels and reduces the risk of heart disease by 34%.
Here are some tips on to help you optimize your sleep:
A regular sleep schedule is essential for maintenance of the circadian rhythm, or the body’s internal 24-hour clock, that helps regulate various physiological processes, including energy metabolism, sleep-wake cycles, body temperature, and more.
Try sleeping and waking up at the same time everyday, including weekends, even if it means sleeping less in the short term.
Regular physical activity has been shown to improve the stability of the circadian rhythm. Aim to engage in moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, ideally during the daylight hours and at the same time each day, either morning, afternoon, or evening to improve your circadian rhythm. Try to avoid any strenuous exercise for at least 2 hours before bedtime. In addition, studies suggest that eating meals at a consistent time each day is associated with significantly better sleep.
3. Engage in light physical activity
Physical activity has been associated with a range of health and longevity benefits, such as strengthening bones, lowering the risk of chronic diseases, and improving brain health.
One study showed that individuals who engaged in physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week had a 28% lower risk of premature death.
Centenarians in the blue zones are generally active and demonstrate high physical functioning. In fact, 81% of blue zone centenarians regularly engage in moderate-intensity activities, such as agricultural activities like farming and gardening, and hobbies such as hiking and dancing.
Although there are additional benefits to more strenuous activity, even mild exercise can be beneficial and easier to adopt for those who currently do not exercise.
Here are some simple steps to boost your physical activity:
Walking is a convenient and effective form of physical activity. Walking just 10 minutes a day can greatly reduce risks of all-cause mortality and promote longevity. Brisk walking has also been shown to slow biological aging and reduces telomere attrition, another hallmark of aging.
Walking speed is also a measure of longevity, and studies have shown fast walkers tend to have greater longevity than slow walkers.
Incidental activity refers to any small physical movements that occur throughout the day. To increase incidental activity, try taking the stairs instead of elevators, or park farther away from your destination to walk more. Research suggests that increasing levels of incidental activity has a range of health benefits, including improved cognitive function.
Incorporating light exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming, can be a great way to boost your weekly exercise. A study in mice showed that swimming for 15 minutes a day reduced risks of cardiovascular diseases and reduced mitochondrial dysfunction, one of the hallmarks of aging. A recent study by the Mayo Clinic found that group fitness activities including tennis, badminton and soccer added 9.7, 6.2, and 4.7 years to lifespan, respectively.
4. Quit smoking
Giving up smoking can be challenging, but the health and longevity benefits are significant, and include reducing the risk of various cancers and pulmonary diseases.
Fortunately, studies have shown that quitting smoking reverses the damage to DNA expression caused by smoking. In addition, quitting smoking can reduce a person’s risk of a heart attack within the first 24 hours. After 15 years, an ex-smoker’s risk of coronary heart disease is nearly the same as someone who has never smoked.
Here are strategies for quitting smoking:
Developing an individualized approach to quitting smoking may be more effective for certain individuals. One study showed that 59% of smokers who executed many plans were able to quit, compared to only 29% of the smokers who executed relatively few plans. Setting a quit date and preparing techniques to help combat withdrawals and cravings can help boost your chance of success.
Smoking cessation clinics offer arrays of services to help you quit smoking, including medical consultations for developing a plan to quit and hypnotherapy sessions.
Hypnotherapy helps patients explore hidden thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a trance-like state. Although there is limited evidence, hypnotherapy may be a viable option for some people who are seeking to quit smoking.
Research has shown smoking clinics that offer behavioral and pharmaceutical support can help improve quitting rates after 6 months, increasing them by up to 55%.
5. Manage stress
Stress is a common part of human life, but building strategies to manage stress can extend your healthy lifespan. One study has found that chronic stress can reduce lifespan by up to 2.8 years, as well as compromising immune responses and increasing cardiovascular risks by 40%.
The effects of stress can be seen at the DNA level, as stress has been shown to negatively affect how the DNA is expressed.
Here are some evidence-based tips to manage stress:
Meditation is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress levels. A recent study demonstrated that just five minutes of meditation per day significantly reduced stress levels in healthcare workers.
An 18-year study showed that meditation can have a positive effect on longevity, with the results indicating that regular meditation can reduce all-cause mortality by 23%.
Another study shows that meditation can reduce the biomarkers of aging, and reduces oxidative stress and telomere attrition.
Breathing techniques refer to various methods of consciously controlling the breath to achieve a desired physical or mental state. Breathing techniques can be used to improve physical health and reduce anxiety. Examples of breathing techniques include:
- Diaphragmatic breathing: also known as "belly breathing," this technique involves breathing deeply into the diaphragm to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
- Pranayama: a practice in yoga that uses controlled breathing to improve physical and mental well-being.
- The 4-7-8 breathing technique: a method of breathing that involves inhaling for a count of four, holding the breath for a count of seven, and exhaling for a count of eight.
One recent study showed that a brief 5-minute breathing cycle performed daily was more effective than meditation in reducing stress levels. Breathing techniques can be an effective tool to help you control your stress level throughout the day.
Hobbies can help you keep active, lower stress, and be healthy across your lifespan. A long-term study conducted on elderly Japanese adults showed that having hobbies increased healthy life expectancy. Engaging in productive hobbies, such as gardening, yard work, and cooking, have been found to be a protective factor against the risk of all-cause mortality, and cognitive decline in older adults.
6. Build and maintain healthy relationships
Individuals who have fulfilling relationships with their family, friends, and their community are more content, have fewer health issues, and live longer.
Having just three social ties may reduce your chances of dying prematurely by more than 200%. A study of over 309,000 individuals has revealed that having weak social relationships can increase the risk of premature death from all causes by 50%.
Another study showed a direct correlation between severe loneliness and subsequent poorer cognitive function, illustrating the importance of strong social ties.
Research also shows that centenarians tend to have strong social ties with their friends and family, and reported high levels of satisfaction in life.
Below are tips to strengthen your relationships and reinforce social connections:
Joining a social group or sports club is an excellent way to stay socially connected, and also help to get more exercise in your week. Playing football, for example, for a sustained period of time, can help reduce DNA damage and stave off the aging process, thus allowing for a healthier and more extended life.
Actively engaging and volunteering within your community is a great way to promote social ties and connection. In fact, a study showed that adults over 65 years who volunteer are more likely to live longer, report better psychological well-being, and have a higher level of life satisfaction.
Studies have demonstrated a direct link between enhanced oxytocin systems and increased longevity. In fact, the Social Dependency Hypothesis of longevity proposes that natural selection has favored extended and healthier lives in species or individuals who demonstrate increased caregiving duties assisting in the success of the future generation.
Therefore, it is important to build strong ties with your friends and family, and spend quality time with your loved ones.
Participating in community events and socializing with friends and family can help alleviate stress, provide opportunities for mental stimulation, and improve longevity. A study of approximately 70,000 women reported that socially integrated women had a 10% longer lifespan and had a 41% higher chance of living until the age of 85, as compared to isolated women.
7. Protect yourself from the sun
A simple way to reduce the aging of your skin and lower risk of skin cancer is to protect yourself from UV rays from the sun.
Although limited exposure to sunlight can provide health benefits, such as boosting vitamin D level, maintenance of a regular circadian rhythm, and stimulating serotonin release, excessive UV radiation can be harmful.
Excessive and prolonged UV exposure is the cause of 95% of skin cancers. In addition, exposure to UV radiation can cause a remodeling of the immune system, leading to photoaging, a condition that resembles the effects of biological aging.
There is a silver lining here. Discover ways you can benefit from the sun without the associated health risks:
Sunscreen is an effective product to protect against UV rays. Sunscreen with SPF 50 is estimated to filter out 98% of UVB radiation.
In addition, one study suggests that using SPF 15 sunscreen on a daily basis can reduce your chances of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 40%, and your risk of melanoma by 50%. Therefore, sunscreen is important for maintaining UV protection and reducing skin aging.
Sunscreen can be a confusing and highly debated topic. To learn more we highly suggest listening to the following conversation with Dr. Brian Diffey on sunscreens and sun protection.
Protect yourself from the UV rays by wearing protective clothing like hats or long-sleeves, sitting in the shade, or carrying an umbrella. Be sure to check the UV index in your area before heading outdoors, and avoid sun exposure on days with a high UV index.
There are many safer alternatives to tanning than UV beds or direct sun exposure, such as spray tans, which are less damaging to the skin.
Studies have identified an association between the use of indoor UV tanning facilities and skin cancer. Therefore try healthier alternatives such as self-tanning lotions containing DHA which are used to imitate sun tan.
8. Avoid air pollution
The World Health Organization (WHO) has consistently recognized air pollution as a significant environmental global threat to human health.
Air pollutants, including particulate matter such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and sulfur dioxide have been linked to diseases like cancer, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, reproductive, neurological, and immune system disorders. Air pollution is therefore a major contributor to aging and chronic health problems and is an important factor to consider for longevity.
Ambient air pollution is estimated to have resulted in a global excess mortality of around 8.8 million/year. In addition, research also suggests that decreases in the level of PM2.5 air pollution from 2000 to 2007 were associated with improvements in life expectancy.
Taking steps to reduce exposure to harmful air pollution such as those listed below is important for promoting pulmonary health and overall longevity:
Reduce your exposure to air pollution by staying indoors on high-pollution days. In addition, you can reduce outdoor air infiltration indoors by keeping windows and doors closed and using air conditioning with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to reduce exposure to air pollutants. Studies have shown that HEPA air filtration can significantly reduce PM2.5 concentrations between 40% and 72% and improve asthma symptoms in children living with smokers.
There are many ways to improve your longevity which are not costly or time-consuming. By learning from the lifestyles of the long-lived "blue zones" populations, we can make simple changes to our daily routines to live healthier for longer.
By making healthier dietary choices, optimizing sleep, quitting smoking, maintaining healthy relationships, managing stress, and engaging in light physical activity, you can extend your lifespan by over a decade compared to those not following these steps. Implementing these basic habits is a great way to kickstart your longevity journey.
Moreover, the disruption of our internal clock, or circadian rhythms, can result in a range of health consequences including hormonal imbalances, insomnia, and increased risk of chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic disorders. This gives us another reason to get exposure to natural light, stick to a consistent sleep schedule, and engage in light physical activity throughout our daily routine.
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Level 2: Intermediate Longevity Strategies
Aging is a natural process, but there are various ways to slow it down and live a longer, healthier life. This is because longevity is largely based on lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, which account for 75-80% of longevity, while genetics account for only 20-25%.
In Level 1 of this guide, we discussed essential tips for those just getting started on their journey towards healthy aging, inspired by the ‘Blue Zone’ regions of exceptional longevity.
In the following (Level 2), we dive deeper into intermediate-level longevity strategies that are ideal for budding ‘biohackers’ who have already implemented basic longevity strategies and are looking for additional benefits, including supplements, saunas, and exercise protocols.
1. Sauna: relax and slow aging
Saunas are a popular wellness trend that have been used for centuries for their health benefits, particularly in Scandinavian countries. There is increasing evidence that saunas may also be a simple and enjoyable way to improve your longevity.
A few of the many health and longevity benefits of sauna are listed below:
Frequent sauna bathing may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. A recent study from the University of Eastern Finland tracked 2,300 middle-aged men for an average of 20 years and found that regular sauna use was associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and stroke. The study also showed that men who went to a sauna four to seven times a week had a lower risk of premature death compared to those who went only once a week.
Research has found that sauna bathing has a favorable effect on blood pressure regulation, which is important for maintaining the health and longevity of internal organs including the heart and kidneys. A single thirty-minute sauna session has been reported to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and long-term studies of regular sauna bathing have shown a 47% reduction in the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Sauna use has been linked to improved lung function and maintenance of pulmonary health. One study showed that sauna bathing reduced the incidence of the common cold by 50% among those who used the sauna regularly, and sauna use has also been shown to reduce the risk of chronic respiratory diseases.
Saunas have been demonstrated to relieve stress and enhance feelings of relaxation by lowering levels of cortisol, the ‘stress hormone.' In this way, saunas may also offer long-term protection from brain diseases. One study showed that men who used saunas 4-7 times per week had a 65% lower risk of Alzheimer's disease related mortality than those who did not.
Regular sauna use may potentially increase longevity by activating heat shock proteins, which are generated in response to stress. Heat shock proteins are produced by our cells in response to heat stress and play a key role in cellular processes, such as cell regulation and immune system functioning, and have been suggested to ultimately extend healthy lifespan.
To optimize the benefits of sauna use, healthy adults should use the following guidelines:
- Sessions per week: 4 to 7
- Time per session: Around 20 minutes
- Heat level: Minimum of 80°C (174°F), ideally between 80°C and 90°C (176°F to 194°F)
For further suggested protocols we suggest reading more from Dr. Andrew Huberman here.
2. Cold therapy: chill out to live longer
Cold therapy, also known as cryotherapy, has been gaining popularity in recent years as a promising tool to enhance longevity and overall health. The scientific evidence behind the benefits of cold therapy and how it can help slow down, the aging process is described below:
One of the key molecular responses to cold exposure is the activation of cold shock proteins. These proteins are already present in the body but increase in production when the body is subjected to cold temperatures, to shield the body from excessive cold stress.
Recent studies have shown that cold shock proteins could play a role in slowing down the progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease. In these studies, mice with Alzheimer's-like symptoms exhibited a significant increase in cold shock protein production when exposed to extreme cold. This increased production protected important nerves in the brain from degenerative damage, slowing the disease's progression.
Brown adipose tissue, a vital component in cold stress response, generates heat through thermogenesis to shield against cold. Activation of brown fat is linked to multiple health benefits such as atherosclerosis prevention, reduced cholesterol levels, enhanced insulin sensitivity, and improved bone health. Cold exposure has been shown to increase brown fat activation in both rodents and humans.
There are various ways to incorporate cold therapy into your routine to potentially reap the benefits of enhanced longevity, which include:
- Ice baths: Submerge yourself in water with a temperature between 10°C/50°F and 15°C/59°F for 1 to 5 minutes in a single session; no more than 11 minutes per week, TOTAL.
- Cold showers: Take a 5-7 minute shower in cold water, with temperatures ranging from 10°C/50°F to 15°C/59°F.
- Cryotherapy: Whole-body cryotherapy exposes the body to ultra-low temperature vapors, ranging from -120°C/-184°F to -150°C/-238°F.
- Ice massage: Apply ice massages for up to 10 minutes to avoid frostbite. Ice massages can be performed as often as comfortable, but should be done at least once daily.
3. Take longevity supplements
Longevity supplements are dietary supplements designed to slow down the aging process and extend a person's healthy lifespan. These supplements generally target one or more of the nine hallmarks of aging, such as shortening of telomeres, mitochondrial dysfunction and chronic low-grade inflammation.
A few of the most promising evidence-based longevity supplements are listed below:
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils are beneficial to brain and heart health, and may reduce levels of inflammation. Fish oils may also improve and nourish your hair, skin, and nails.
One study that followed a group of elderly individuals (aged 60-85 years) for five years found that those who had higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood had a lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to those with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been linked to potential longevity benefits. Studies show that curcumin can extend the lifespan of fruit flies and offer various health benefits to humans, including reducing inflammation, reducing senescent cells, regulating metabolic pathways, and preventing glycation. These effects are believed to contribute to healthy aging and longevity.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an enzyme found in every cell of the body that helps with energy production and cellular protection. CoQ10 levels decline with age and have been linked to age-related diseases such as cancer, but supplements may offer various longevity benefits like reducing mitochondrial damage, slowing neurodegeneration, and protecting against cancer. Clinical and preclinical studies show CoQ10 supplements may be helpful for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and those at risk of developing prostate and breast cancer.
Fisetin is a natural flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables like strawberries, apples, onions, and cucumbers. It has been suggested to promote longevity in humans through various mechanisms, such as eliminating senescent cells, mimicking the effects of a low-calorie diet, and reducing inflammation. Studies in mice and humans have shown that fisetin consumption can provide several health and longevity benefits, including improved brain function, anti-cancer effects, and improved skin appearance.
Quercetin is a flavonoid found in onions, olive oil, capers, and legumes, and is the active ingredient in home remedies in Asian countries to treat various disorders. Some of the potential longevity mechanisms of quercetin include anti-inflammatory properties, promoting efficient protein production, and improving NAD+ levels. Quercetin has also been linked to potential longevity benefits, such as supporting brain and immune system function in aging mice. While some studies suggest that quercetin has senolytic activity, additional research is needed to confirm this effect in humans.
Learn more about longevity supplements, what they are, their benefits, and more here.
4. Stay mentally active
Engaging in mentally stimulating activities is important for maintaining brain health and promoting longevity.
Reading, solving puzzles, playing games, and even socializing have been demonstrated to minimize the risk of cognitive decline and increase general brain function. In addition, people who engage in mentally stimulating activities have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other kinds of dementia.
Mentally stimulating activities have been shown to increase the production of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) protein, which helps support the growth and survival of brain cells.
To improve your brain health and increase your chances of living a longer life, consider the following three strategies:
Learning a second language, even in old age, can be an effective way to enhance cognitive reserve and delay functional decline associated with early dementia. A study showed that bilingual individuals were diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's disease an average of four years later than their monolingual counterparts.
Engaging in puzzles, such as Sudoku, crosswords, or jigsaw puzzles, serves as a stimulating workout for the brain. These activities demand spatial awareness, problem-solving skills, and memory, thereby fostering cognitive enhancement.
Enrolling in a course, either online or face-to-face, is a great way to keep your brain active. This involves concentration, memory, and attention, all of which contribute to cognitive enhancement. Furthermore, acquiring new knowledge facilitates the creation of new neural pathways in the brain.
The cognitive benefits of reading are well-documented. Reading offers both cognitive and health benefits, including vocabulary expansion, memory enhancement, improved attention, and critical thinking skills. Additionally, it can help cultivate empathy and emotional intelligence, alleviate stress and anxiety, and slow cognitive deterioration.
To boost your cognitive health and delve into the world of longevity, explore our top recommended books on longevity.
5. Exercise: resistance training
Resistance training, commonly known as strength training, has emerged as a key method of potentially promoting longevity and enhancing healthspan. This form of exercise may not only help in building muscle strength and size but also in lowering the risk of various diseases and adding years to a person’s life. Some of the mechanisms for the potential longevity benefits of strength training are listed below:
As individuals age, they experience noticeable deficits in muscle function and bone health. Strength training has been found to be particularly effective for older adults in slowing down, attenuating, or even reversing these age-related changes to the musculoskeletal system. Even lower-intensity strength training at home without specialized equipment has been shown to yield significant benefits.
Strength training has been shown to positively affect brain health, particularly in older adults. One study found that regular strength training is linked to better cognitive function and reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease. Moreover, research has demonstrated that resistance training can improve memory, attention, and executive function, which are all crucial for maintaining independence and quality of life as we age.
Strength training has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Higher muscle mass is associated with better insulin sensitivity and a lower risk of diabetes or prediabetes. In a study involving over 13,000 participants, those with the lowest percentage of muscle mass were 63% more likely to have diabetes than those with the highest percentage. By engaging in regular resistance training, a person can increase his or her muscle mass and improve the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, reducing the risk of developing diabetes.
6. Exercise: high intensity interval training (HIIT)
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that alternates between short bursts of intense activity and brief periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. This type of workout has gained popularity in recent years due to its time-efficient nature and numerous health benefits. As research continues to be published, it is becoming clear that HIIT may play a crucial role in promoting longevity and overall health. The benefits of HIIT training include the following:
One of the most compelling arguments for incorporating HIIT into your exercise regimen is its potential to lower the risk of premature death. One study found that older individuals who engaged in high-intensity interval training had a 2% lower risk of death compared to a control group and a 3% lower risk compared to those who participated in moderate-intensity exercise. The researchers also found that HIIT not only contributes to a longer life but also improves overall quality of life and fitness levels.
Another appealing aspect of HIIT is its effectiveness in promoting weight loss, which is linked to a longer lifespan. Studies have shown that HIIT can burn 25-30% more calories than traditional cardio exercises within the same amount of time. This makes it an ideal option for those looking to shed excess pounds without spending hours at the gym. Moreover, HIIT has been found to boost metabolism, allowing the body to continue burning calories even after the workout is over.
HIIT has been shown to have a positive impact on memory. Research has demonstrated that older adults who engage in HIIT workouts can experience up to a 30% improvement in memory performance, while those participating in moderate-intensity exercises show no significant change. This suggests that incorporating HIIT into one's exercise routine may help maintain cognitive function and combat age-related memory decline.
Slowing down aging and living a longer, healthier life is achievable through lifestyle choices, which account for up to 80% of a person’s lifespan.
Several intermediate-level longevity strategies that may slow down the aging process include using saunas, taking longevity supplements, incorporating cold therapy, engaging in mentally stimulating activities, and engaging in strength and HIIT work-outs.
By incorporating these strategies into one's daily routine, individuals can potentially increase their healthy lifespan, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and improve their overall quality of life.
It is important to note that while these strategies can be helpful, they should not replace medical advice or treatment and should be done in conjunction with beginner-level strategies including a healthy lifestyle that includes regular movement, stress management, and a nutritious diet.
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Level 3 - Advanced Longevity Strategies
According to a recent report, the average human lifespan is projected to reach 125 years by the end of the century. It is no surprise therefore that individuals are seeking new ways to extend their healthy lifespans.
Advancements in science and medicine have suggested it is possible to slow down aging, decrease the risk of chronic diseases, and improve overall quality of life through a range of advanced new strategies. In our previous sections, we explored beginner healthy aging strategies inspired by the 'Blue Zone' regions, and intermediate tips for more seasoned longevity pursuers.
Now, in Part 3 of our series, we will delve into 8 of the most cutting-edge, scientifically-backed longevity tips, ranging from personalized nutrition to the latest in anti-aging technologies and supplements. These advanced tips are designed for those who are truly dedicated to optimizing their longevity, have the budget to invest in cutting-edge strategies, and are inspired by the practices adopted by some of today's most health-conscious billionaires.
1. Personalized nutrition, medicine, and nutri-genomics
Many of today’s diets are ‘one-size-fits-all’ and do not consider a person’s unique biology and lifestyle. Personalized nutrition, on the other hand, is based on the premise that everyone responds differently to food as a result of their unique physiology, genetic makeup, biochemistry, metabolic rate, microbiome, and lifestyle.
Our genes are not functionally static but are constantly influenced by diet, physical activity, and environment. So, by understanding this science of genetic interactions, we can potentially slow down the aging process by studying the way our bodies respond to nutrients and other dietary components, known as nutrigenetics.
The investigation of how specific genetic traits determine our responses to various nutrients and food components in an individual is known as nutrigenomics. There is emerging evidence that personalized dietary interventions based on nutrigenomic testing can improve metabolic markers associated with longevity in healthy adults. So, by understanding your genetic makeup, you can choose a healthy diet and lifestyle that promotes healthy aging and prevents chronic diseases.
Research has shown that optimal nutrition may increase life expectancy by an average of 2.3 years compared to a conventional diet. In addition, research has suggested that meal plans tailored to a person’s individual needs may improve how the body responds to glucose.
In addition, our health depends on the gut microbiome, a complex ecology comprising billions of microbes in our digestive tract. Research reveals that diet can affect our gut flora which in turn influences how we metabolize and absorb nutrients, and is associated with longevity.
To begin your personalized nutrition plan, consider the steps below:
- Genetic testing: The first step to developing a personalized nutrition plan is to consult a genetic testing service to identify your genetic makeup. Saliva-based DNA tests are quick and painless, and can uncover gene variants that affect nutritional and dietary responses.
- Dietitian/nutritionist supervision: Secondly, you need to get guidance from a professional dietitian or nutritionist to adopt a tailored diet. They can interpret your genetic test findings and recommend custom dietary recommendations based on your unique physicality, requirements, and goals.
- Food tracking and monitoring: To effectively implement a personalized nutrition plan you must track your diet and document your food intake, to ensure adherence.
- Continuous adaptation and assessment: Since nutritional needs continually change as our body changes, you need to reevaluate the personalized food plan and make dietary changes, retest genetic and blood biomarkers, and collaborate with your healthcare team.
Companies like Fount and Span are creating platforms to ease dietary biohacking, by connecting users to nutritionists and health coaches. These platforms use big data analytics and machine learning to make personalized nutrition plans easier to create and follow.
Span, for example, offers a program called caloric restriction with optimal nutrition (CRON), a promising long-term health and longevity treatment that can be tailored to the user’s needs by progressively changing their dietary habits.
Additionally, researchers are now looking to improve personalized nutrition recommendations by merging nutrigenomic data with other ‘-omics’ data like metabolomics, transcriptomics and proteomics, to provide individuals with additional data to inform their dietary plans.
2. Advanced longevity supplement stack
An advanced longevity supplement ‘stack’ includes a comprehensive selection of evidence-based supplements, and is a vital part of a state-of-the-art longevity protocol.
Studies have shown select longevity supplements can increase the healthy lifespan of mice by over 10%, and improve age-related health markers, including bone density, muscle strength, and cognitive function. There is emerging evidence that humans may also benefit from supplements for longevity.
An advanced supplement stack is tailored to the individual’s needs, goals, and existing health conditions. It is highly recommended that you consult a doctor before starting a new supplement program.
Below are some popular evidence-based dietary supplements that may improve your longevity:
NAD+ boosting supplements: Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is a biomolecule that plays a critical role in DNA maintenance, energy metabolism, and cell function. NAD+ levels decline with age, and deficiency is linked to chronic diseases. Supplements like Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) can increase NAD+ levels and potentially promote healthy aging.
Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) is a precursor molecule to NAD+, which maintains cellular energy, and is involved in DNA repair. Levels of NAD+ reduce with age, and are associated with a decline in health over time.
NMN supplements increase NAD+ levels in your body and are thought to promote healthy aging. Research indicates that NMN treatment in mice improves various age-related health markers, including insulin sensitivity, skeletal muscle function, and bone density, making NMN a popular supplement for longevity.
Alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) is a molecule involved in various metabolic pathways associated with energy production and cellular function.
A recent study conducted on female mice which had been administered with AKG revealed that median lifespan increased by 16.6%. Additional research has revealed that AKG reduces inflammation, improves cellular repair, and increases mitochondrial activity, slowing aging in mice. Therefore, AKG is becoming a popular supplement for those looking to extend their healthy lifespan.
Glucosamine is a natural compound found in the body that supports joint health and function. Glucosamine plays a key role in the formation and maintenance of cartilage, which acts as a cushion between joints.
Regular glucosamine supplementation has been reported to improve knee joint function and reduced pain in older adults with osteoarthritis, a common condition that can limit mobility and quality of life with aging.
Another study found that glucosamine supplementation led to improvements in glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, which are important factors for healthy aging.
Acarbose is a prescription drug used to treat type 2 diabetes by slowing down carbohydrate digestion. Studies show that acarbose may potentially slow aging by improving insulin sensitivity and lowering oxidative stress.
One study showed that acarbose extended the median lifespan of male mice by approximately 22% and female mice by about 5%. The study also showed that acarbose improved healthspan, which refers to the period of life during which the mice remained free from age-related diseases and disabilities.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a molecule that maintains hydration levels, skin elasticity and essential biological processes. Hyaluronic acid supplements may improve your skin health, joint function, and reduce visible signs of wrinkles.
Studies have reported HA can maintain cellular health, a critical factor in aging, by promoting cell proliferation, reducing inflammation, and assisting in tissue repair. This indicates that increased HA levels could contribute to enhanced cellular health and longevity.
Ubiquinol, an active form of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), boosts cellular energy and may promote longevity. Ubiquinol maintains CoQ10 levels which decline with age, and has been shown to reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, and lower the risk of heart disease.
A review of 13 clinical studies of ubiquinol suggested that the compound significantly increased plasma levels of antioxidants and showed a decrease in oxidative stress markers. The authors suggest that these effects may have a beneficial impact on aging and longevity.
3. Prescription medications
In addition to dietary supplements, recent research has shown that prescription medicines are not only for treating illnesses, but may also promote longevity. Two of the most beneficial prescription drugs that could also hold the key to unlocking a longer, healthier life are rapamycin and metformin.
ATTENTION: Information contained here about prescription medicines are for educational purposes only and not provided as a recommendation or suggestion. Always consult with your personal doctor or licensed medical professional before taking any prescription medicine.
Rapamycin is an immunosuppressive drug used for organ transplant operations that at low doses may have an anti-aging effect.
Rapamycin blocks the protein mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) to ultimately control cellular growth, metabolism, aging, and lifespan. Research shows that by inhibiting mTOR, rapamycin enhances autophagy, which is a cellular process that helps to remove damaged or dysfunctional cellular components. These properties of rapamycin may help to reduce inflammation, promote metabolic adaptations, slow aging, and suppress tumor growth and increase lifespan.
In a study in mice, rapamycin has been shown to increase life expectancy by up to 60%. In another study of older mice, rapamycin-treated mice lived 50% longer than untreated mice, even if therapy began late in their life. It is currently unclear if rapamycin will offer similar longevity benefits in humans (clinical trials in humans are ongoing), but current data suggests rapamycin could be a valuable component of an advanced longevity protocol.
Metformin is a common antidiabetic drug that plays a key role in regulating cellular growth, metabolism, reducing inflammation, enhancing autophagy, and aging.
Recent research has uncovered some intriguing connections between metformin and the aging process. Studies have shown that metformin can promote longevity from simple yeast cells to more complex animals like mice.
Studies indicate that metformin helps to increase insulin sensitivity, liver glucose production, and muscle glucose absorption. These actions lower blood sugar, improve metabolic function, and may reduce the risk of age-related disorders including diabetes and heart diseases for a longer, healthier life. This suggests the role of metformin as an anti-aging drug within an advanced longevity regimen.
The ongoing Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME) trial aims to determine whether metformin can delay the onset of age-related diseases and lengthen lifespan. Results from this trial will provide valuable insights into the potential of metformin for promoting human longevity.
4. Continuous glucose monitoring
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is a groundbreaking technology allowing the user to constantly check and monitor their blood sugar levels at any time.
Maintaining healthy blood glucose levels has been acknowledged as a key component in promoting healthy aging. By monitoring glucose levels, you can take control of your health and make informed choices about your diet, exercise, and lifestyle.
CGM continually monitors blood sugar levels which helps to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and reduces the risk of long-term health problems in both diabetics and non-diabetics.
A typical CGM system is made up of an intradermal sensor along with a transmitter that wirelessly connects with your chosen display device such as a smartphone, smart watch, or a dedicated receiver. The sensor continuously detects your blood glucose level in the interstitial fluid and wirelessly transmits glucose readings to your display device.
Glucose metabolism varies with age due to increased insulin resistance, decreased physical activities, and hormonal imbalance, making it more challenging for older adults to maintain optimal blood sugar levels.
CGM technology provides real-time feedback to you about your glucose levels and assists diabetics with their daily activities and self-care, resulting in better glycemic control.
In diabetics, CGM helps users maintain better glycemic control and lowers the risks of complications, and research has shown CGM extends life expectancy by 0.72 years on average in these patients.
In addition, one study found that CGM users spent less time in both hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic ranges, further supporting the longevity benefit of the system and its importance in a longevity protocol.
CGM can also help you identify which foods and activities cause fluctuations in your glucose levels, allowing you to adopt diet and lifestyle changes to improve your health and longevity.
If you're interested in using CGM to improve your glucose management and promote longevity, speak with your healthcare provider who will guide you through the process.
5. Full body MRI scans
Full body Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans are an advanced medical imaging technique that has the potential to promote longevity by detecting potential health issues in their early stages.
With a full body MRI, doctors can capture detailed images of your entire body, enabling them to detect and diagnose medical conditions that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Full body MRI scans have the potential to detect health issues before they become clinically symptomatic or life-threatening, leading to more effective treatment and better outcomes. MRI scans can also be used to monitor the progress of treatments for various conditions, ensuring that they are effective and reducing the risk of complications.
In one cohort study conducted with over 40,000 participants, early detection of health issues through MRI was associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality. Specifically, participants who received a positive screening result for any condition and underwent follow-up care had a 30% lower risk of all-cause mortality compared to those who did not receive a positive screening result.
While MRI is generally considered safe, there are some risks and contraindications to be aware of. For example, if you have implanted medical devices like pacemakers, then you may not be eligible for MRI scans.
Despite their benefits, some diseases or abnormalities may be too small or subtle to be identified through this imaging method, and it is not a panacea.
6. Testing biomarkers of aging
Testing markers of your aging, including biological age testing, is a key component of any longevity protocol. Biological age, influenced by genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors, reflects a person's overall health and physiological state. This is in contrast to chronological age, which simply measures the time elapsed since birth.
Below are some common types of biological and function tests that can help individuals track their aging:
Epigenetic age testing for personal use is an emerging trend in the pursuit of longevity and tracking aging. This cutting-edge approach allows individuals to gain insight into their biological age, based on their epigenome, specifically DNA methylation patterns. This can be used to make informed lifestyle choices and adopt personalized interventions to slow down the aging process. Companies such as AgeRate and Tally Health are offering these services, however, more research is needed to validate the accuracy of these tests in predicting lifespan.
Tracking fitness and sleep metrics for longevity is becoming increasingly popular, as individuals track their physical health over time. Functional tests such as grip strength and walking speed, as well as fitness metrics such as VO2 max and heart rate variability have been associated with longevity. Wearable devices and apps can be used to monitor measures of health and fitness.
For example, tracking heart rate variability (HRV) can inform users about their body's ability to adapt to stress, enabling them to manage stressors effectively through mindfulness practices or targeted relaxation techniques.
Sleep testing for longevity has also become an essential tool in understanding the role of restorative rest in promoting a healthier, longer life. By evaluating sleep patterns and quality, individuals can make adjustments to their routines, optimizing circadian rhythm to slow their aging.
Aging causes cognitive decline, but it can also indicate dementia or other cognitive diseases. Several tests can assess your cognitive ability and can be used to track your psychological health across time. These tests assess memory, attention, processing speed, and other cognitive skills, and provide useful data about brain health and overall well-being.
By monitoring cognitive function, potential issues can be detected early to ensure appropriate treatment to minimize brain aging.
7. Complete blood panel testing
A complete blood panel can provide a snapshot of your overall health and help identify potential risks and biological changes that could affect your longevity. This can lead to more effective treatment, lifestyle modifications, and prevent age-related health complications.
Below are the common markers found in your complete blood panel which can impact your longevity, and may be useful to track over time:
Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) is a measure of your average blood sugar levels over the past three months. One study found that higher HbA1C levels were associated with increased mortality risk, even in non-diabetic individuals. They concluded that HbA1C may be a useful predictor of mortality risk and a potential target for interventions aimed at improving longevity.
Therefore, this marker can be used to diagnose and monitor diabetes and assess the effectiveness of diabetes management in order to boost your longevity.
Cystatin C is a protein that gives an insight into your renal function. High blood cystatin C levels may indicate a renal disease or impaired renal function, and this marker may be less impacted by age, sex, and muscle mass than creatinine, making it a better measure of kidney function. One study found that elevated levels of cystatin C were significantly associated with renal impairment and increased all-cause mortality.
A lipid panel measures cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, and LDL levels. Abnormal levels of these lipids raise the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and one study revealed that lipid panel testing was an important factor associated with cardiovascular outcomes and mortality. Therefore, a lipid profile can help your doctor assess cardiovascular disease risk and guide treatment.
Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is a hormone similar to insulin that promotes growth and development. So, having abnormal levels of IGF-1 can be associated with growth disorders, certain tumors, and metabolic diseases, which may impact longevity.
A liver panel is a group of tests that measure various enzymes and proteins to assess liver function. Abnormal results can indicate liver disease, inflammation, or age-related damage.
Findings from one study indicated that elevated levels of alanine transaminase (ALT) and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) found in a lipid panel were associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality.
A thyroid panel measures the levels of thyroid hormones in your blood. These hormones control metabolism, energy production, and growth. Abnormal thyroid hormone levels can cause a variety of symptoms and may indicate hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, which may affect longevity.
High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) is a marker of inflammation in your body. Elevated levels of hsCRP can be associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease and other inflammatory conditions.
Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that uses real-time brain activity displays to train individuals to regulate their brain function. While there is currently no clear evidence to suggest that neurofeedback directly promotes longevity, neurofeedback has been shown to improve cognitive performance and mental wellness, which could in turn increase longevity.
Some of the benefits of neurofeedback include the following:
A randomized controlled trial found that neurofeedback improved cognitive function in mildly cognitively impaired older individuals. This is essential since cognitive loss is a common sign of aging and maintaining cognitive function may improve overall health and longevity.
Chronic stress has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and neurodegenerative illnesses. Some studies have indicated that neurofeedback can promote stress resilience, lowering the detrimental effects of chronic stress and depression, which improves overall health and longevity.
Neurofeedback has been studied as a treatment alternative for anxiety, depression, and ADHD. By improving mental health, neurofeedback may help individuals manage their stress and other health issues, which may potentially improve overall health and longevity.
An advanced longevity protocol for optimal health requires a comprehensive and multifaceted approach. Incorporating a wide range of strategies, from lifestyle modifications to cutting-edge medical interventions and technologies is necessary to achieve best outcomes.
A personalized dietary regimen tailored to an individual’s biology coupled with dietary supplements, such as NMN, glucosamine, and acarbose, as well as prescription medications such as rapamycin and metformin, have demonstrated potential in promoting longevity by targeting various biological pathways implicated in aging. However, it is crucial to consult with healthcare professionals to ensure the appropriate use and dosage of these supplements.
Advanced technologies, such as continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems and neurofeedback, are increasingly being used to provide individuals with real-time data about their physiological states. This information allows for personalized interventions and lifestyle modifications that can lead to better health outcomes and improved longevity.
Regularly monitoring biomarkers of aging through complete blood panels, epigenetic age testing, and other functional tests can provide invaluable insights into one's overall health and potential risk factors. By tracking changes in these markers over time, individuals can adopt targeted interventions to slow down the aging process and improve their healthspan.
Finally, mental health is a critical component of overall well-being and longevity. Emerging treatments, such as neurofeedback, have shown promise in improving mental health conditions and managing stress effectively to enhance overall health and longevity.
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