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How to increase longevity and slow the signs of aging

We’re pre-programmed to resist the signs of ageing and take every step we can to maximise our lifespan. But, with all the distractions of modern life, it’s easy to fall into bad habits that can slowly start to shave years off your life expectancy.

Fighting back against the ageing process doesn’t mean cutting out everything that you love, but with a few minor lifestyle changes you can re-discover your natural vitality and look forward to a long and healthy old age.

Here’s the key factors to consider and how you can naturally optimise your longevity:

1. Sleep

Sleep impacts on all of your body’s systems and a lack of it can double the signs of skin ageing according to a US study, as well as making us feel less attractive.

More importantly, it can be a real risk to our health, with a report from University of Warwick finding that people who sleep less than six hours per night are 12% more likely to die over a 25-year period than those who get the recommended amount of sleep. These deaths were often from heart-related conditions.

Most medical professionals advise that you aim to achieve regular, uninterrupted sleep sessions of six to eight hours per night in order to maintain optimal health and vitality.

2. Stress

Stress is often unavoidable, but could be wreaking havoc on your appearance and life expectancy.

Stress can damage our chromosomes and DNA, resulting in mutations that can increase your risk of overall immune distress, degenerative diseases (like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s) and even cancer. A study by Harvard and Stanford Universities quantified that consistent stress could knock as much as 33 years off your potential lifespan.

To avoid this and stave off those grey hairs a little longer, ensure that your hormones are naturally in balance, optimise your diet, cut out contaminants (like alcohol, caffeine and cigarettes) and try to be mindful about what causes your blood pressure to creep up.

3. Diet

Diet is another all-encompassing factor that can impact severely on your health and wellbeing.

No matter how much you think you’re looking after your body, a bad diet can wreck your complexion and leave you looking pale and peaky. Your diet can also impact on your overall life expectancy, with coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes (which, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, can shave six years off your life alone) are among the most serious risks.

Start taking regular exercise, avoid consuming high levels of alcohol, and eliminate trans fats from your diet. Trans fats are bad and increase your risk of heart disease. In fact, they are so bad that some countries have banned them outright. They also interfere with the body’s ability to produce its own DHA (an omega-3 essential fatty acid). Fill your new diet with wrinkle-fighting antioxidants, whole and non-farmed foods, and ensure your vitamin intake is optimised.

4. Essential oils/serums

Even with a balanced diet and regular exercise, there are certain conditions or individual variables that can prevent us from absorbing the right levels of essential nutrients.

Essential oils and serums have long been used as a way of distilling the essence of integral elements to ensure that we can regulate our intake to match our unique bodily composition. Rather than being a direct means of extending longevity, essential oils will help to maintain your overall wellbeing, boost your immune system, improve skin quality, help you sleep and much, much more.

Once an expensive lifestyle option, you can now easily mix your own essential oils at home using ingredients like jojoba oil, evening primrose oil, pomegranate oil, vitamin E and lavender oil.

5. Genetic mutations

Genetic mutations and free radical damage are most commonly caused by toxic elements entering our bloodstream via our diets, alcohol or cigarettes.

Each mutation has the potential to turn cancerous, or cause degenerative diseases that could dramatically decrease your life expectancy. A study by Treatment4Addiction found that each cigarette was equivalent to 14 minutes off your life expectancy (10 years if you’re regularly smoking 20 per day). But, there are unseen factors too. A nutritional imbalance and the presence of E numbers and other contaminants in our diet might be slowly degrading your overall health.

With cigarettes and alcohol, it’s easy to know exactly what you need to cut out. However, knowing how to adapt your diet can be a little more complicated. Simply revise the ‘Diet’ section above and you can start off on the right foot.

6. Hormones

Our hormones are the oil that keeps our finely tuned machines in proper working order, but decline dramatically with age, often resulting in the onset of numerous degenerative diseases.

This decline is likely to signal that the menopause is now in full swing, complete with the range of unpleasant side effects that this transition brings. Later, your risk of cognitive degeneration, mobility issues and bodily changes (weight gain, wrinkles, hair loss etc.) will increase significantly. And, even if you try to fight back with synthetic hormones, you’ll be increasing your risk of breast cancer and other conditions.

An alternative is bioidentical hormones restorative therapy (BHRT) to help improve your life and protect your long and short-term health.

Conclusion

The further medical research advances, the more we come to understand that many aspects of the ageing process are not set in stone and can be avoided with intelligent lifestyle choices. Follow these simple steps and look forward to excitement and energy in your later years.

Stress is a Major Ager!

Ageing is multifactorial*, and stress is included in this.

Stress is a ‘major ager’, it speeds up the ageing process – mind, body and spirit! It’s not important if it is emotional, mental, physiological, environmental or nutritional, or biological, they all lead to the same result – continual stress equals faster ageing and faster body breakdown.

Today, stress is everywhere, it is killing us. It starts in the morning with perhaps eating a rushed breakfast in the car on the way to work; to organising your day and how to fit your tasks into it; to disagreeing with a colleague or family member; to dealing with a bad driver on the roads – these are all stressors. Stress never stops!

Continual and unrelenting stress causes the stress hormone, cortisol, to rise. This creates a continual flow of cortisol in the bloodstream, which is highly destructive. This includes suppressed thyroid function which can cause blood sugar imbalances, which will lead to insulin resistance; impaired cognitive performance including concentration, memory, and problem solving; decrease in bone density and muscle tissue; high blood pressure which effect the function of the arteries; and increased abdominal fat which leads to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

Continual stress also degrades the immune system, our protector, leaving us wide open to such things as cancer and age-related, degenerative diseases. High stress levels also cause behavioral problems such as irritability, depression, unhappiness, or the opposite, extreme happiness, together with insomnia, and reduced mental and physical control.      

Think of it this way, any stressor will create a six hour shut-down of the immune system, when there are two or three stressors at a time whether it be, emotional, physical physiological, environmental, or nutritional, we get a twelve or eighteen hour shut-down. Bereavement can throw the whole body into total hormonal bewilderment for as much a six month.  

As we age our hormones decline, in menopause our sex hormones decline drastically over  a five year period, putting the body under an incredible and continual stress load. If we are already highly stressed and are also menopausal, our stress will be exacerbated because of this factor (and we definitely will not be sleeping).

How to control stress levels?

To remain, fit, healthy and youthfully active we need to ensure that we control our stress levels by doing such things as yoga, curling up with a good book, taking a hot bath, making time for sleep, sex, and for ourselves, meditation, massage, and exercise, but restorative doctors believe that stress control on a permanent basis is impossible ‘unless and until’ hormonal balance is restored.

*Multifactorial – involving or dependent on a number of factors, especially genetic or environmental factors.