Living to 100
Sometimes I think about living to 100 and I wonder if I really want to do that. Wheelchairs, more medications, caregivers, wrinkled skin and more. It doesn’t sound glamourous or even that fun when I think of all the drawbacks, but then I think of more than that.
I think of impact at this point in my life and how much more I could give. Longevity is a reality for many who are facing mid-career and the halftime of life. How long do you want to keep working and what lifestyle should you maintain and even adapt? How much and what type of travel do you want to experience? My goals have included the freedom to work and write most anywhere in the world. In thinking about the questions on how to make this journey of living to 100 much more enjoyable and even possible, I’m going to focus on a few main areas.First of all, we know diet has a great deal to do with healthy living, but especially for centurions. There are many headlines touting different diets from Mediterranean, low carbohydrate, Keto, etc… In 440 BCE, the Greek physician Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be food.” He’s right! Nutrition, physical activity and social activity have a huge impact on longevity and we will discuss all three.
It’s hard to slap on a one-size-fits-all nutritional diet or program. Mice are not humans and even though there are plenty of new studies constantly coming out with mice, we know that every human is different. However, some of those studies are telling as to food groups that can influence heart disease and cancer. You need to know your body and your energy level. A mindset of moderation and portion size are extremely important in maintaining your weight. If you look around, you won’t see many, if any at all, people in their 90’s who are overweight. And they usually keep active.
In a 2018 study with 7,447 participants at high risk for cardiovascular disease, subjects were randomized to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil, or mixed nuts, or to a control diet with the advice to reduce dietary fat. The risk of major cardiovascular events was about 30% lower in the Mediterranean diet groups supplemented with healthy fats from olive oil or nuts compared to the group that were recommended to keep a low-fat diet. (Estruch et al., 2018). With that high of a percentage, I’d add healthy fats!
Even though there are advantages to vegan diets, this diet has been associated with a 43% increased risk in all fractures and 2.3-fold increase in hip fractures compared to non-vegan diets. (Tong et al., 2020). You can supplement with amino acids, but reliance on one food group for a particular nutrient may compound problems in other areas.
We do know that moderation in all areas is the best approach and vegetables and fruits are extremely important in our nutritional plan. The more, the better. Our bodies need carbohydrates for energy, but not all carbs are the same in how they react. Do your research and also pay attention to nutritional timing. (get your FREE download here) I’d be wary of a drastic move to a carnivore diet where you are allowed very few fruits, vegetables, nuts or grains. Or even a drastic Keto diet, where you drastically replace carbohydrates with fat, though it can cause benefits with significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels.
Two: Physical Activity
“Age-related muscle decline already occurs in our thirties but begins to accelerate at around 60. By age 80, we have lost about a third of our muscle mass,” says Dr Daniel Ham, one of the lead authors of the study published in Nature Communications. We actually lose about 3-5% per decade. “Although this aging process cannot be stopped, it is possible to slow it down or counteract it.” This can be done with exercise, especially the right type of exercise.
Anyone who desires longevity, even living to 100, has to keep moving. There’s more information in the article on The Importance of Exercise. A combination of walking, core exercises and weights encourage healthy muscle mass. “Muscles are essential for whole-body metabolism and the function of many organs,” says Dr. Nitish Mittal, another author of the study in Nature Communications.
Physical activity is a factor you can even consider in booking your travel. There are many active tours, such as Backroads (we have taken two of their trips), VBT travel (we are taking an upcoming biking trip) and many other organizations. Most will describe the intensity of the exercise and always give you options to opt out. Booking active travel is good for setting reasonable goals for activity, especially when approaching your 70’s and 80’s. You just have to stay active and maintain a moderate weight.
Three: Social Activity
Writer Marta Zaraska in her book, Growing Young, noticed that relationships were a central factor in health. She states that if we want to live longer, healthier lives, we should prioritize staying connected, kind, and involved in our community. In fact, in one meta-analysis, the effects of this social interaction was very strong for those with larger social networks about 45 percent less likely to die.
Loneliness has been found to increase cortisol and inflammation. Taking time to connect with others releases oxytocin, which can reduce pain and change the way our brain responds to stress. Some ways to boost social connections are through volunteering, church involvement, professional organizations or reading clubs. The list is endless, especially with meetups and community organizations.
The silent killer and sickness of the COVID lockdowns as has been revealed more and more was loneliness, with seniors locked up and no visitors. Our youth was even greatly affected by this with depression and even suicide. Connection by phone and Zoom helped, but there is really no substitute for a bear hug and eye-to-eye communication!
There is new research coming out almost daily with AI, (artificial intelligence) research, gene therapy, which is replacing a specific damaged gene, and even 3D printing of organs and crisper progress to cure disease. But there is nothing like good diet, exercise and social habits that keep the body and mind sharp. I also suggest taking up a musical instrument such as the piano. (Learn Music Again) It’s a huge stress-reliever, enjoyable and keeps the mind sharp, even warding off dementia. Find out what will work for you and realize the possibility of living to 100 is real. Proactively paying attention to your health will make the journey much more enjoyable!
If you are interested in the latest posts on longevity, there is a free newsletter I like here: Longevity Insider
Anyone who desires longevity, even living to 100, has to keep moving.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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