Longevity – better long life – Part III

In case you missed the Part 2 where we discuss existing supplements, substances being researched and sleep – here is the link. If you haven’t read even the Part 1 yet where we discuss existing supplements, substances being researched and sleep – let’s go back, enjoy reading and then get back here right away.

Healthy nutrition is key. Get required minerals from food.

Thousands of articles, books and websites were written about food and healthy nutrition. The only problem: various advices are often conflicting and/or changing in time. What to do? And, what to do for better long life? I love the approach of Michael Pollan: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” If you haven’t read his books – I highly recommend them: The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food. Really intriguing is “Eat food” and what he means by that, let me allow you to google it for yourself.

My top 8 rules are as follows:

  1. Don’t overeat. If I feel my stomach, I failed.
  2. Lots of vegetables, some fruit.
  3. Limited amount of meat, organically farmed whenever possible. If organically farmed meat is not available (or I don’t know where it comes from, e.g. in many restaurants) – I rather don’t eat meat.
  4. Good fat: olive oil, butter, grape seed oil for frying.
  5. Limited or no amount of refined sugar.
  6. Try to avoid processed food as much as I can.
  7. We discussed alcohol already – limited amount if at all. I haven’t always been that way, my friends would confirm…
  8. Last but not least, don’t stress too much about food. I eat mostly healthy but if occasionally not, I don’t care. I don’t measure calories, I don’t do any food diary, just too much hassle. I enjoy my food, even the creme brulee that my daughter and I just baked together.

Ketogenic (keto) diet seems to deserve a paragraph here. One of the latest nutritional fashion trend is a diet based on high amount of good fat, vegetables, some protein and very limited or no carbohydrates. Please note that origin of this nutritional approach is a medical therapy to treat epilepsy. Medical experts warn people against following keto diet without a proper expert supervision. There are medical conditions for which such diet is suitable. Johns Hopkins Clinic team produces good results in treating epilepsy in both children and adults. However for people without those serious conditions, a well balanced article in KQED summarizes that “three out of four of our experts say the ketogenic diet is so restrictive, they would not recommend it for healthy patients who just want to lose a little weight.”

My own experience: I don’t know, I haven’t tried myself. What scares me from trying? I feel good and healthy eating the way I eat AND a proper keto diet requires regular blood testing and medical supervision which again feels like too much hassle. If any of the readers follow the keto regimen – feel free to write me about your experience or just include it below the post in the comments. At the same time, I recently heard only superlatives about keto from several friends who are trying to lose weight. If you are in this group – perhaps worth to investigate more.

Another nutrition-related interesting topic is so-called ‘French paradox’, the observation of low coronary heart disease death rates despite high intake of dietary cholesterol and saturated fat. Later, somebody suggested that one of the reasons for the paradox is high consumption of red wine in France, the wine industry caught the wind and wine became another ‘life saviour’, clearly promoting sales. I will disappoint you here, especially if you think that you can gobble-up infinite amount of brie cheese and splash it with gallons of red wine without any health consequences… There is no scientific consensus about reasons behind French paradox and some scientists even believe that it simply does not exist given the way French authorities collect health data and in principle underreport incidence of coronary heart disease caused deaths. Still, if you like a glass of red wine with French cheese – enjoy it but don’t fool yourself about their health benefits.

On a positive note to conclude this part, there seems to be a consensus in scientific community that Mediterranean diet (olive oil, legumes, vegetables, fish, fruits, moderate consumption of diary, mainly yogurt and cheese, moderate consumption of red meat) is beneficial for our health as well as longevity.

Intermittent fasting may lead to longer life

My first encounter with ‘fasting’ occurred in Dubai, where we lived for 8 years. First year, first Ramadan, I felt like an ignorant that I probably still am. I was aware that muslims have their holy month, however I somehow have been for 38 years missing the fact that they don’t eat and drink during the day. In my typical way of plunging in, I tried for a couple of days to join my colleagues in the office, could withstand fasting no problem, but no water drinking became a major stumbling block for me.

Second time I read about fasting was in the book about late Steve Jobs where the author mentioned his regular fasting attempts. Given the fact how he ended up, I was not convinced that starving is that great even though no one could of course determine level of causality between his nutritional regimen and early death. I remained suspicious nevertheless intrigued.

Let’s have a look at some science. In a study published in Nature (with limited amount of people), authors recently found out that “It has long been known that prolonged fasting exhausts glycogen stores (glucose), consumes stored lipids as fuel substitutes, and stimulates gluconeogenesis. Fourteen confirmed markers increased. In this study, 32 new fasting marker metabolites, were identified. These novel markers reveal possible new metabolic aspects of fasting. Increased levels of organic acids may reflect increased mitochondrial activity, from which reactive oxygen species are counteracted by antioxidant production.”

Fasting thus creates a situation for our organism that leads to increased production of antioxidants. So far so good, more antioxidants produced by our own body sounds promising as oxidative processes are linked to aging.

In what is probably the most comprehensive review article published in December 2019, doctors Cabo and Mattson have reviewed several studies to determine ‘Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease’. They conclude that “Preclinical studies and clinical trials have shown that intermittent fasting has broad-spectrum benefits for many health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancers, and neurologic disorders. Animal models show that intermittent fasting improves health throughout the life span, whereas clinical studies have mainly involved relatively short-term interventions, over a period of months. It remains to be determined whether people can maintain intermittent fasting for years and potentially accrue the benefits seen in animal models. Furthermore, clinical studies have focused mainly on overweight young and middle-age adults, and we cannot generalize to other age groups the benefits and safety of intermittent fasting that have been observed in these studies.”

Here is definitely something. I would recommend to you to read the entire article above because it is rather obvious that there are health benefits of intermittent fasting. What is the right food regimen? 1 day per week? 2 days per week? Time-restricted feeding? For which body type? How to maintain successfully intermittent fasting for years? If you are interested, probably best to find a progressive nutritional expert in your area and talk to them about your specific situation, present food intake, your goals and make a plan.

Here we go! Long read but hopefully worth your time. Make your own list of actions to live longer. Copy-paste if you like and put there specific points that are valid for you and your longevity. Look at the list from time to time (at the start of every quarter for example) to assess if you live ‘life full of stress’ or ‘full life with some stress’.

In case you missed the Part 2 where we discuss existing supplements, substances being researched and sleep – here is the link. If you haven’t read even the Part 1 yet where we discuss existing supplements, substances being researched and sleep – let’s go back and enjoy here.

Does longevity matter to you? What do you do to achieve longevity – if anything? Share with me and other readers in the comments below or send me an email as usually.

My wife when asked about longevity has a very clear opinion. She doesn’t get all the huffing and puffing about how to live longer. She feels like her 40+ already represents a major achievement, thus sees no point of prolonging life beyond what ‘it should be’. Let me leave you to contemplate such approach too…

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