By: Cat Ebeling, RN, MSN-PHN, co-author of the best-sellers: The Fat Burning Kitchen, The Top 101 Foods that Fight Aging & The Diabetes Fix
We all want to stay young and healthy forever. But unfortunately, that isn’t entirely possible. Longevity is a hot topic these days, and there are many lifestyle habits, dietary habits, and natural and pharmaceutically based supplements and treatments on the horizon that can be used as powerful tools to slow down the aging process.
The antiaging industry is a hugely popular growing industry. Successful aging is one of the most important areas of health with our fast-aging population. There are currently 671 million people who are over the age of 60, worldwide.
What is Longevity?
While we all would like to live long, productive lives, many struggle just managing chronic disease that seems to arrive with aging. Longevity is not just about living as long as possible, but living the longest, healthiest life possible—free of chronic diseases.
This is where the term “health span” comes in. Many may agree that a person’s health span is far more important than the life span. However, being “healthy” means different things to different people. A better definition of longevity might include being free from serious disease, having energy and cognitive processes, as well as physical mobility and strength.
Successful aging means having a healthy physical body and good mental health. What’s interesting however, is that when we do things that are healthy for our physical bodies, these actions benefit our brain health as well. And vice versa.
We die not of old age, but of the cumulative failures within our cells. These failures are not inevitable breakdowns, but instead are the reversible elements of aging.
Lifestyle habits accumulate, and those habits can either have a negative effect on health or a positive one. Small daily habits can be cumulative and build up to big things over a lifetime. The best habits to include in your day-to-day life right now are, regular exercise, maintaining your steady blood sugar and a healthy diet, regular social contact, and good sleep on a regular basis.
Building on top of this foundational healthy habits are some ground-breaking scientific treatments worth mentioning that all point towards increased health and longevity.
Exercise, for example, is one of the best ways to help protect both our physical health AND our mental health. While you probably already know that exercise can contribute to a longer healthier life, more and more research points to how and why exercise is so beneficial.
Research from Harvard Medical School indicates that regular physical activity is linked to a longer lifespan. According to the study, people who exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes a day have a 20% lower risk of death than sedentary folks.
Another study from the Mayo Clinic finds similar results, showing that people who exercise regularly had a 25% lower risk of dying early compared to those who were inactive.
Ok, so what types of exercise affect longevity? Turns out, basically all kinds—although some forms of exercise are more beneficial than others.
Research shows that aerobic exercise, especially including interval training, such as HIIT (high intensity interval training), along with running and cycling, have serious longevity benefits. Aerobic exercise not only strengthens the heart and lungs but also reduces blood pressure, and increases circulation.
Strength training—or resistance training as it is often called, is associated with stronger muscles, better balance, stronger bones, and better mobility. Muscle mass and strength will naturally decline with aging, and it accelerates after the age of 60, if we don’t try to counteract that. These changes can have dramatically negative effects on our health.
If we do not prioritize muscle strength maintaining muscle mass as we age, the risks of muscle loss multiply and are harder to overcome as we age. With loss of muscle, we lose balance, and eventually we lose mobility.
Muscle mass correlates with a decrease in all-cause mortality. In other words, the more muscle mass you have, the lower your risk of dying from any chronic disease than some of your peers. It only takes an hour of resistance exercise each week leads to decrease your mortality risk, but the ideal is 75-150 minutes a week is even better. That’s working out 3-5 times a week for only a half an hour.
One of the most significant benefits of exercise, is that it promotes neurogenesis, which is the birth of new brain cells. This is astounding new research. If you want to prevent cognitive decline, exercise is an essential element to improving cognitive function.
Researchers have shown in animal studies that exercise actually increases the creation of new brain cells in the hippocampus, which is a small seahorse-shaped part of the brain that forms memories and storage.
Exercise also can improve the health and function of the synapses between neurons in this region, allowing you to think more quickly and more clearly as the brain cells communicate better.
Regular exercise, according to longitudinal studies in humans can increase the size of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, both of which are susceptible to cognitive decline such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Regular exercise helps your body and your brain to stay younger and the results can be dramatic.
Diet is the second most controllable factor in aging and longevity. Diet is key to a healthier and longer lifespan. Mounds of research point to the fact that diet has everything to do with whether you end up with a chronic disease or not—especially diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Even contributing inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, autoimmune disease, dementia, and more are all controllable by diet–wholly or partially.
The most recent research looks at blood sugar, metabolism, and AMPK pathways. AMPK is adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase, otherwise known as “AMPK”.
AMPK is found in every living cell of your body. And if you want to avoid the primary symptoms of aging, you will need to maintain optimal AMPK activity. How do we do that?
AMPK controls a wide variety of metabolic pathways help us metabolize and utilize energy from food and how we store that energy. AMPK manages our cell’s energy in order for it to function efficiently.
When activated, AMPK in turn, releases additional energy from sources (fats and sugars) in our bodies. So activated AMPK helps keep us lean, energetic, and active while renewing our cells. AMPK activity declines rapidly with aging, and when excess calories are available, the end result is accelerated aging.
You CAN boost AMPK activity through exercise, fasting or overall calorie restriction. There are also supplements that boost AMPK activity as well, such as Berberine. Boosting AMPK helps to keep your cells younger to slow down aging.
The problem is that our sedentary lifestyles and overabundance of calories ages us much faster. High caloric intake drastically decreases AMPK. This is like eating yourself to death. Growing masses of fat in our bodies reduce insulin sensitivity and increase systemwide inflammation, leading to the chronic diseases that come with aging, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Blood sugar levels also affect the brain and are implicated as being a major player in Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia and neurodegeneration, according to this study.
Research recently published in the Journal, Neurology, have new data that suggests modest increases in blood sugar among people in their 50s, 60s and 70s can have negative effects on memory.
Researchers found that if a person’s A1C measurement (A1C is a common blood test that shows an average blood sugar levels over a -three month period) goes from 5 percent, which is in the normal range, to just 5.6 percent, was associated with worsening memory recall.
Increases in blood sugar or chronically elevated blood sugar also leads to increased inflammation, which as mentioned before, increases one’s susceptibility to chronic disease and autoimmune disease.
Bottom line, keep blood sugar in the low end of a healthy range with diet, exercise, and intermittent fasting.
One other thing worth mentioning is the influx of ‘Continuous Glucose Monitors’ on the market. These are tiny devices that attach to the skin of the arm or abdomen. A small sensor inside monitors glucose, and an app in your phone can read glucose measurements. It also tracks glucose patterns over the course of a 24-hour period.
While these are available only through a prescription in the U.S., they are excellent methods of monitoring blood sugar, and discovering which foods raise blood sugar. The day is soon coming when these monitors will be available to the general public and will be an excellent to help people lose weight and increase longevity.
3. Peptide Therapy
Peptides are another area of cutting-edge anti-aging therapy. What are peptides? Peptides are short chains of amino acids which form a protein. Peptides work at the cellular level and can have a massive effect on aging, disease, and general health. Peptides have been shown to impact many health issues including arthritis, diabetes, autoimmune disease, inflammation, the healing process, and cellular DNA.
Peptides are being used as a form of treatment for many different types of health conditions. Some peptides can encourage production of growth hormone in the body, which can help reduce inflammation and autoimmune disease.
Other peptides can be effective in the treatment of obesity, as certain types can encourage the death of excess fat cells. Some peptides are used to decrease wrinkles and make skin look younger. Another type of peptide is known to encourage the production of melanin which can then decreasing risk of skin cancer. Others are therapeutic for different types of sexual dysfunctions.
Longevity medicine offers peptide treatments such as human growth hormone compounds like CJC 1295 + Ipamorelin, MK-677 Ibutamoren, IGF-1 LR3 + CJC 1295 + Ipamorelin, Sermorelin, IGF-1 LR3, and Ipamorelin, among others.
These compounds have been found to be safe and effective for things like hair growth, recovering from injuries, increasing cognitive function, stimulating the libido, and improving athletic performance. Other people report peptides aid in sleep, reduce muscle and joint inflammation and increase mental clarity and energy.
Peptide therapy will certainly become one of the preferred longevity treatments as it becomes more and more available.
Many people view sleep as a luxury and only catch up on it on weekends when their exhausted bodies can get the rest they truly need. However, sleep is an absolute necessity when it comes to health and longevity.
People often overlook the potential long-term health consequences of insufficient sleep, and the impact that health problems can have on a person’s overall time and productivity.
Getting insufficient sleep is cumulative and over time, medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other inflammatory diseases can develop. Several studies have linked insufficient sleep and weight gain. For example, one study found that people who slept less than six hours a night on a consistent basis were more likely be overweight, while those who slept an average of seven to eight hours a night had the lower body fat.
Other studies have shown that people who sleep five hours or less a night were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Insufficient sleep is often accompanied by blood sugar fluctuations and cravings for carbohydrates and sweet—possibly due to the rise in cortisol and increase in inflammation that occurs with those who do not get enough sleep.
Even modestly reduced sleep is associated with a much greater risk of heart disease and risk of death from heart disease.
Sleep also plays a big role in immune function and increases the levels of many inflammatory factors. People who are sleep deprived are much more likely to catch viruses like colds and the flu.
Both rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM (NREM) sleep have crucial roles in our physical, behavioral, metabolic, and cognitive function. Poor sleep can also reduce life expectancy solely because it can raise the risk of accidents and injuries. An analysis of data from three separate studies suggests that sleeping five or fewer hours per night can raise one’s mortality risk by as much as 15 percent.
Sleep quality is also tied into skin cell function, and reduced sleep can make the skin more vulnerable to environmental damage and more prone to visible signs of aging such as wrinkles and sagging skin. Our bodies produce hormones during sleep such as human growth hormone that contribute to our youthful appearance, energy, and strength. In fact, research has shown that just a single night of sleep deprivation can speed up cellular aging.
Sleep helps us store memories, and organize information in our brains, and helps with cognitive function like problem solving and attention to details. Sleep also protects the overall health of the brain. During the night, the brain works to clear out toxins in the brain which can build up during the waking hours. This includes proteins that can damage brain tissue and impair healthy cognition.
5. Heat Therapy
Saunas, red light therapy and cold plunges have become a tool for increased longevity. Heating or cooling the body can have major health benefits that contribute to healthier aging.
Saunas have been around for many years, and the Scandinavians are still big users of saunas. Much of the research from heat saunas comes from the Scandinavians.
Many studies have been published showing that regular sauna use improves health and longevity. Health benefits from saunas include better insulin sensitivity, which helps lower blood sugar, faster recovery from injuries, release of growth hormone, and increased neurogenesis, which is the creation of new brain cells.
Sauna bathing has been found to induce profound physiological effects on the body that increases longevity. The high temperatures from a sauna cause the blood vessels to dilate which improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, and helps the body to remove toxins.
Sauna heat reduces inflammation which is a primary cause of aging and chronic disease. The heat of the sauna relaxes muscles and promotes relaxation, reducing stress levels, and cortisol. Chronic stress has been linked to higher levels of inflammation and increased aging.
6. Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy is emerging as another type of longevity therapy.
Red light therapy has been shown to have antiaging health benefits including reducing inflammation, increasing collagen in the skin, promoting wound healing, and improving skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis.
It has also been found to be effective in reducing pain and stiffness associated with conditions such as arthritis, as well as increasing muscle strength and endurance. Other studies have shown that red light therapy can help improve mood and cognitive function, and may be beneficial for treating conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and depression.
Antiaging effects of red light therapy include:
- Increased Mitochondrial function: red light therapy has been found to increase the activity of mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cells, which are known to play a role in aging.
- Sirtuins activation: Red light therapy has been found to activate the Sirtuins family of proteins, which are known to play a role in aging and longevity.
- Increased NAD+ levels: red light therapy has been found to increase NAD+ levels, which is a molecule that is known to play a role in aging.
- Increased Autophagy: Red light therapy has been found to increase autophagy, a process of cell self-cleaning, which is known to be beneficial for longevity.
7. Cold Plunge Therapy
Cold exposure and ice baths are ‘the’ thing right now to increase metabolism, cure your depression and reduce inflammation. From enhanced longevity to better moods and improved focus, to improved metabolism, cold water seems to be the new cure-all.
Cold therapy seems to have the greatest benefits to the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and the immune system, rather than just muscles.
Cold therapy fans believe benefits that include:
- Boosting immune function
- Improved circulation
- Lowered heart rate
- Deeper sleep
- Better focus
- Boosting energy levels
- Lowered inflammation
- Improve metabolic function
- Reduced depression, improves mood
- Increase in confidence
Like saunas, cold exposure is a way of shocking the body—in a good way. This shock stimulates the ‘fight or flight’ response, which causes an adaptive response because the stressor is brief, compared to long term stress which wears the body down, mentally, and physically.
Cold exposure is considered a hormetic stressor. A hormetic stressor is a type of natural stress, that creates a positive response in the body. As your heart rate and respiration increase to help keep you warm, blood flow and oxygen increase throughout the body. Norepinephrine floods the brain, which boosts focus, attention, and mood, while reducing pain and inflammation. This also creates a nice endorphin rush.
8. Bioidentical Hormone Therapy Treatments
A foundational part of antiaging practice is hormone replacement. While bioidentical and conventional hormone therapy treatments have been around for a long time, there is greater attention and acceptance of hormone therapy treatments in terms of longevity. Aging skin, as decreases in muscle mass, decreasing levels of bone mineral density (BMD), loss of sexual desire and erectile dysfunction, slowed intellectual activity, and depressed mood have all been related to this decrease in hormone production with age.
Hormone therapy treatments have traditionally been used to correct sex hormone deficiencies in men and women. Women often begin hormone therapy during perimenopause or menopause to treat symptoms of declining hormones. These symptoms include insomnia, hot flashes, memory lapses, brain fog, depression, anxiety, loss of libido and more. Women’s hormone replacement generally consists of estrogen, progesterone, and sometimes testosterone.
Additionally, women who are postmenopausal and not on hormone therapy are at a much higher risk for heart disease, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer, including colorectal cancer.
Many men receive testosterone replacement therapy to boost testosterone, often due to declining testosterone levels that go with aging. For men, testosterone deficiency can cause erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, loss of motivation and drive, reduced muscle mass, and lowered response to exercise, depression, insomnia, and lowered bone mass.
In both men and women, hormone replacement therapy—especially bioidentical hormone replacement therapy has been used not only to diminish symptoms of low hormones but also to prevent or slow the potential for chronic diseases of aging, including osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, muscle loss/sarcopenia and even cognitive decline.
Both men and women on HRT report feeling younger, having less aches, and pains, sleeping more soundly at night, more interest in sex, smoother, less wrinkled skin, and improved response to exercise with increased lean body mass and loss of fat.
In addition to sex hormone replacement therapy, doctors are also including DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) which is a master hormone from which sex hormones are made, and growth hormone for added longevity benefits.
9. Other Longevity Practices
IV therapy treatment centers have sprung up across the country. While many health fanatics are flocking to these centers to get intravenous vitamins and other nutrients, these centers have an appeal for those seeking to slow aging and fight disease as well.
IV treatments include vitamin, antioxidants and mineral infusions, glutathione (a powerful antioxidant), and Ultraviolet blood irradiation. UBI was regularly used during the 1940’s and 1950’s to treat medical conditions including pneumonia, tuberculosis, infections, and cancer, and is becoming popular again. Other therapies include phospholipid IV therapy which removes stored toxins from heavy metals in the body’s fat cells.
10. Young blood plasma
Young blood plasma is a newer treatment for aging, in which young blood donors’ blood is transfused in people wishing to slow aging. Young blood infusions cost upwards of $8-10,000 per liter, and have been shown in animal studies to slow aging. Young blood plasma is generally considered to come from donors who are 20 years old or younger.
Blood plasma does contain many proteins, enzymes and other nutrients that control aging, slow disease processes, and increase health and wellbeing. While human studies are still limited, and ongoing, one study done on Alzheimer’s patients transfused with young plasma showed very promising results.
New treatments for longevity, slowing aging, and preventing diseases that go with aging are flooding the horizon. This article covers but a few of the more common antiaging procedures available to the general public today.
With the aging population here in the U.S. and in Europe, I am certain that we will be seeing many, many more innovative longevity practices—and many that are truly effective in slowing the aging process. Some of these may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
More importantly—and much less expensive–maintaining healthy lifestyle habits such as regular cardio and weight resistance exercise, getting 7-8 hours sleep each night, eating a diet high in antioxidants and high-quality proteins and fats, and maintaining close social contacts, are the foundational habits that will sustain one’s life, longevity, and good health for a long, long time—without spending thousands and thousands of dollars.
This was a GREAT Article ! Keep ’em coming !
THANK HOU i REALLY NEEDED THESE HELPFUL HINTS…WE TEND TO MISUSE OURSELVES WHEN WE GET OLDER AND FORGET THE IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE, SUCH AS SIMPLE PEROXIDE HINTS AND EXERCISE SO HELPFUL AT ANY AGE.
LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT AND i want to enjoy everything to its potential THAT I can, THANK YOU
SO many helpful hints and hopefully fulfill my hearts most wishes, to be capable to enjoy everything as aging is inevitable and time to enjoy as well…
As stated above, thank you and looking forward to any comments about health and life available to enjoy the life to its fullest..