Do you want to live longer and also live healthier? The quality of your life is as important as the quantity or length. Jules Renard said, “It’s not how old you are, it’s how you are old” Besides food, what will make the difference in how you age and how you feel no matter what your age are the following things.
Eating a clean, chemical free, whole, unprocessed mostly plant based diet is essential to good health. A neglected subject is how much to eat and when. Calorie restriction has been known for a long time to increase longevity by turning on the sirtuin gene known for positively influencing longevity. Calorie restriction is hard to sustain. Intermittent fasting has become popular since it is much easier to do and can give you many of the same benefits. It can give the body a chance to repair. If you eat from 6 AM to 11 PM you only have 7 hours to repair and rejuvenate. Intermittent fasting can be beneficial by giving your body a longer time to repair.
Erratic eating patterns disrupt each of your organ’s circadian rhythms such as endocrine glands, gut, kidney and liver. When the clocks of each of your organs are synchronized, your organ systems work to repair, rejuvenate and detoxify adding years to your life and life to your years. Studies have shown that limiting calorie intake to a certain time period, somewhere between eight and 12 hours per day is beneficial for overall health and longevity as well as weight loss.
While there are many ways to do intermittent fasting, a popular way is to eat in an 8 hour window and fast for 16 hours a day or at least fast overnight and skip the late night snacks. Fasting has been shown to reverse type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity and polycystic ovarian syndrome, lower weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Longer fasts that go for days or anyone on medication should do this under the supervision of their doctor.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
The CDC says at least 30% of the US population doesn’t get enough sleep. Lack of sleep is imperative to repair and restore our energy and cells.
A lack of sleep leads to increased inflammation. If you sleep less than 5 hours a night, then you have a 73% increased risk for obesity and this correlates to increased cancer risk and risk of cardiovascular disease. People who don’t sleep enough are prone to accidents as well. There is a higher rate of motor vehicle and bicycle accidents as well as slips, trips and falls in sleep deprived people.
It is best to wind down at night. Don’t do anything stressful or strenuous. Dim the lights and filter out blue light. Blue light from electronics shuts down melatonin production which is the hormone that allows you to sleep. Use night shift on your tablets or phone, f.lux on your computer or use yellow glasses to filter out blue light from TV or any of these screens. Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. Magnesium can be relaxing. You can take it orally or take a warm Epsom salt bath. Having a wind down routine at night and using supplements such as magnesium, L-theanine, melatonin or aromatherapy oils such as lavender can help you have a good night’s sleep.
Stress is a major ager and is not necessarily mental. Stress can be physical, mental, due to toxins, hormone imbalance or infection and even lack of sleep.
Stress raises cortisol which increases blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, and breaks down muscle, bone and memory cells in the brain and increases cancer risk. I recommend deep belly breathing, adaptogenic herbs based on cortisol levels, meditation, mindfulness and other techniques to keep stress and cortisol in check. Choose something you like to do such as walking in nature, yoga, prayer, a hobby you can get lost in, visualizations, or reading something inspiring and motivating. Since you can’t do these at will during a stressful situation, using your breath by doing deep belly breathing or your mind by reframing the situation and finding peace are techniques that if practiced regularly can alleviate the ravages of stress on your mind and body.
What, how much and when you eat, sleep and how you manage stress can add years to your life and life to your years. If you have trouble with any of these, I suggest you seek a functional medicine physician with a center that has a comprehensive and coordinated approach, so you can rejuvenate and repair to live younger and healthier.
Dr. Maita is a recognized and award-winning holistic, functional and anti aging physician and author. She transforms people’s lives by getting to the root cause of illness using the best of science and nature. Her approach is personalized, precision medicine where you are treated as the unique individual you are.