It’s strange. At 61 years old, according to statistics and common knowledge, I’m supposed to be getting to the point where age-related diseases start to get me. Aside from the usual, dreaded ones like cancer and heart disease, there’s also obesity, arthritis, and sarcopenia waiting for me. And I’m supposed to feel tired and out of it.
But I don’t feel old at all. While comparisons are difficult, when I was 18, I was out-of-shape and smoked cigarettes, and I certainly feel better now.
My hair is even getting darker. (I should write a separate post on that.)
So, far from feeling like I’m about to hit old age, I feel like there’s no reason I can’t get another 50 years out of my brain and body.
One often reads about centenarians and how they reached that age. The vast majority I would characterize as lucky: they have the right genes.
Most of them appear to have done little in the way of health interventions. The longest-lived person ever, Jeanne Calment, who died at the age of 122, smoked cigarettes most of her life. That’s not to say that some haven’t inadvertently done some good things for their health; for instance, when you read of someone who eats bacon and eggs every day but avoids donuts, or only eats one meal a day instead of eating around the clock.
Jack LaLanne, fitness buff extraordinaire, reached 96. His brother Norman, who apparently didn’t much take care of his health at all, made it to 97.
But did Jack LaLanne do everything right? While he certainly did many things right, he was fond of juicing, which adds a lot of sugar if it’s fruit juice, he took liver tablets, which are high in iron, and he ate a low-fat diet. Not criticizing him at all, but one must have proper knowledge, and he was mainly flying by the seat of his pants, or so it appears.
Hopefully we have a little better knowledge now. We also have to keep an open mind to new things, and to revise our beliefs if necessary. (Harder to do than it looks.)
So how do I plan to make it to 110? Here’s how.
Muscle loss begins at age 30 (though barely perceptible then) and by the time someone is 80, they’ve typically lost half their muscle. Muscle loss leads to insulin resistance, obesity, and debility.
To live healthily to an old age, it’s essential to build and keep muscle, and to keep fat tissue off.
High-carbohydrate diets speed aging through insulin and IGF-1 signaling. Low-carbohydrate diets, and intermittent fasting, slow aging. Fasting results in improved mitochondrial function and number, making it strongly anti-aging.
Paleo diets avoid destructive food elements even more so. Omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils, for instance, and sugar.
So I’m planning to maintain a low-carb paleo diet, with intermittent fasting days, the rest of my life.
Polyphenols are plant-derived chemicals found abundantly in coffee, tea, chocolate, red wine, fruits (especially berries) and vegetables.
They are associated with markedly better health and lower death rates. They extend life in lab animals.(3)
I’m covered. I have no intention of ever giving up coffee, tea, and red wine. Or chocolate. I also supplement with resveratrol, green tea extract, and curcumin, all of which are polyphenols.
Iron accelerates aging, leads to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and infections, and lots of other nasty things. I’ve lowered my ferritin to, at last check, 77, and plan to go lower. Keeping iron low is the most underrated factor in health. Read my book, Dumping Iron, to find out the several ways you can keep iron in the low normal range.
Fortunately, vitamin D is now no longer as obscure as it was just a few years ago. It is a must for avoiding premature death.
Magnesium is the nutrient most people are most likely to be deficient in, and it’s required for good health. It prevents sudden cardiac death, raises T levels, and promotes mental health.
Fish oil, with its high content of omega-3 fatty acids, helps prevent heart disease and keeps your brain in working order.
Zinc is important for immune function, and can reverse thymus atrophy, an important cause of immune decline in older people.
Here’s where we come to a more nebulous input. Too many older people, but especially the men, appear to have little sense of purpose, and use their time watching television or with other aimless pursuits. Forget about retirement. Read good books, write, lift weights, start a business, go into politics – anything but the dreaded years of sitting on your backside and watching yourself head towards death.