Longevity via a healthy lifestyle

We can all learn something from the long-lived Okinowans. The Okinawa diet and lifestyle – carotene-rich veggies, seaweed, calorie restriction.

Aging is a biological process which we cannot stop, but we can delay decline. It all depends on how we behave throughout our lives.

The main reason for non-biological aging is bad habits, so if we want to start living in a healthier way we must pay full attention to these, for they lead us to the stage of the end of our days.

Keep color on your plate, minimize meat consumption, and fast daily.

Foods that activate the NRF2 pathway are super. Such foods may even help one beat COVID-19.

As a general rule, what is good for heart health is good for brain health. Getting regular exercise, eating well and maintaining a healthy weight all promote a healthy brain.

Image from Health matters: midlife approaches to reduce dementia risk. Public Health England. 22.03.2016

A 2019 Lancet Commission on dementia prevention ranked smoking as third among nine modifiable risk factors for dementia.
A recent review of 37 research studies found that compared to never smokers, current smokers were 30% more likely to develop dementia in general and 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Analyses of earlier studies suggested the risk may be even higher than that. A large study carried out in Finland found that people who smoke heavily in midlife more than double their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia two decades later.

Dr. Brad Stanfield and Gil Carvalho explain it well here.

WebMD explains again: quality sleep, don’t smoke, be careful of getting too much sun, moisturize skin, eat healthy, wear sunglasses, keep a social network, watch your blood pressure, be generous of your time, do medical checkups, and exercise daily.

Keeping physically healthy can help protect against memory loss and dementia. The NIA recommends regular aerobic exercise, and a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

In addition, getting the right amount of sleep, socializing, minimizing stress, and keeping health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes under control will help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Given the multifactorial aetiology of dementia and late-onset Alzheimer disease, multidomain interventions that target several risk factors and mechanisms simultaneously might be necessary for an optimal preventive effect.

This video by Dr. Brad Sanfield (with multiple references) points out the powerful effects of lifestyle on preventing cancer. Those lifestyle factors include no smoking, clean air, limit alcohol, eat a variety of veggies for fiber and to stay slim, no junk food, control blood sugar, and exercise.

Dr. David Katz explains the core elements of a healthy lifestyle. He explains that a healthy lifestyle means exercise, a plant-based diet, avoid smoking, adequate quality sleep, minimize stress, enjoy love. At least 80% of the total burden of chronic disease would be eliminated. Poor diet is the single leading cause of premature death.

This excellent answer on Quora says that a healthy diet like a Mediterranean diet combined with regular exercise does indeed reduce your LDL cholesterol, improves your cholesterol ratio and reduces heart attacks and strokes. The reduction of heart attacks is in the order of 40% to 50% when a healthy diet is combined with regular exercise.

A healthy lifestyle including polyphenols and methyl donor foods, as well as exercise, can reverse epigenetic age by 2-3 years.

A healthy lifestyle can increase one’s supply of dopamine.

This study of 17,209 older study participants showed that healthy choices (no smoking, high leisure-time exercise, low-to-moderate alcohol consumption, adequate sleep and a high-quality diet) were individually associated with an 11-25% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

This study of 11,000 adults in Brazil found that those who ate the highest amounts of ultra-processed foods had a faster rate of decline in their thinking skills on standard tests than those who ate the lowest amounts of these unhealthy foods.

Dr. Dean Ornish points out, in this video, sums it up: Move more, eat well, stress less, love more. This can stop or reverse the progression of:

  • coronary heart disease
  • early-stage prostate cancer
  • type 2 diabetes
  • hypertension
  • hyperlipidemia
  • obesity

This is because these diseases have many of the same underlying biological mechanisms

  • chronic inflammation
  • chronic sympathetic nervous stimulation
  • microbiome & TMAO
  • oxidative stress
  • inappropriate apoptosis
  • angiogenesis
  • inappropriate gene expression
  • telomere shortening
  • dysfunctional immune system

Here are supporting references pointed out by Dr. Ornish:

This study of 23,153 German participants aged 35 to 65 years from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study, concluding that adhering to 4 simple healthy lifestyle factors can have a strong impact on the prevention of chronic diseases.

In this study of 78,865 nurses and 44,354 physicians who never smoked, had normal BMI, moderate activity, moderate alcohol, and high diet quality score had an 82% lower risk of dying from heart disease, 65% lower risk from cancer, and a 74% lower risk from all causes.

In this study of 592 571 participants it was found that a diet characterized by healthy plant-based foods was associated with lower risk and severity of COVID-19.

This (Harvard Medical School and King’s College, London) six-country study of almost 600,000 health care workers with frequent exposure to COVID-19, concluded that plant-based diets or pescatarian diets were associated with lower odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19. These dietary patterns may be considered for protection against severe COVID-19.

This study of 48,440 adult patients found that consistently meeting physical activity guidelines was strongly associated with a reduced risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes among infected adults.

Dr. Ornish’s lifestyle heart trial: This was a study of intensive lifestyle changes compared to the usual care. Dr. Ornish talks about it here. In this lifestyle intervention there was a 91% reduction in the frequency of angina in 24 days. There was a 400% improvement in coronary blood measured by PET scans after 5 years. 99% of patients stopped or reversed their heart disease as measured by cardiac PET scans after 5 years. In contrast, 45% of controls got worse, 50% showed no change, and only 5% improved. There were 2.5 times as many cardiac events in the control group as in the lifestyle group after 5 years.

Ornish Reversal Program

Here is a later summary of the above study. These intensive lifestyle changes can be maintained.

Can lifestyle changes reverse prostate cancer? Here is a study.

Can lifestyle changes beneficially change gene expression? 

Thoughts and feelings are important

A pessimistic explanatory style, as measured by the Optimism-Pessimism scale of the MMPI, is significantly associated with mortality.

Optimism helps people cope with disease and recover from surgery. Even more impressive is the impact of a positive outlook on overall health and longevity. Research tells us that an optimistic outlook early in life can predict better health and a lower rate of death during follow-up periods of 15 to 40 years.

This study of 73,485 women showed that higher optimism is associated with maintaining vigorous physical activity over time in post-menopausal women, and may protect women’s health over the lifespan.

Anatomy of optimism

Optimism helps people cope with disease and recover from surgery. Even more impressive is the impact of a positive outlook on overall health and longevity. Research tells us that an optimistic outlook early in life can predict better health and a lower rate of death during follow-up periods of 15 to 40 years.

Cultivating a positive attitude can increase your resistance to disease and even delay the aging process. Your beliefs and rules about life and work determine how you interpret events and therefore your attitude. Adopt beliefs that create a positive attitude (like “any day above ground is a good day”) rather than a negative one (like “life sucks and then you die”).

Optimism is demonstrated by super-agers.

Beauty can be found everywhere.

Dr. Roger Seheult, Md has a wonderful video on forgiveness. “A lot of people think that thoughts are out of our control, but that has been shown not to be true. People who harbor resentments and feelings of anger have been shown clearly to have bad health, and specifically cardiovascular disease. Forgiveness leading to empathy and understanding is linked to reduced anxiety, depression, major psychiatric disorders, fewer physical health symptoms, and lower mortality.

By Otto

I am a health enthusiast, engineer, and maker.

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