12 Tips for Increasing Your Lifespan
Is there really a way we can boost our life expectancy? These four books explore the best habits and lifestyle changes linked to long, happy, healthy lives.
by Rob Eades / 2021-09-01
As they rolled back the stone covering the 1,000-year-old tomb, they were shocked to discover a singular person, sitting and flicking through their phone whilst listening to Spotify. “But...how are you still alive?” the archaeologist mumbled in shock. The man took off his headphones and fixed their gaze upon the trembling man: “Oh, I just read this really good article on Uptime about living longer. Looks like it worked.”
Okay, maybe that’s going a bit far…
We’d all like to live a bit longer - sure, maybe not an extra 1,000 years, but many of us are definitely interested in finding ways to live a long and happy life.
We’re constantly told different ways and different things that are the apparent secret to living longer. But then you hear the story of the odd centenarian who’s lived off a diet of alcohol and cigarettes. So where does that leave us?
The authors listed here have dedicated years of research - sometimes even their careers - to the study of centenarians, looking for common links to better understand if there’s anything we can do to increase our lifespan.
The takeaway we found most interesting? Often, the secret to long life has got a lot more to do with our mental health - and finding a sense of ‘ikigai’ - than any food we’re putting in our bodies.
Ikigai leads us on a journey to discover our purpose and live a longer, happier life.
1. Find your reason to wake up in the morning
The Japanese word, ‘Ikigai’, has two characters; ‘iki’, which means life, and ‘gai’, which means value.
This principle bases itself on the idea that the secret to long life is your sense of purpose. If you wake up every day feeling happy, fulfilled, and looking forward to the day ahead, you will live longer.
2. Spend more time doing the things you love
If happiness is the secret to a long life, then it’s a win-win situation. Would you rather live a long and happy life, or a short and miserable one? It’s really a question that answers itself. Take the time to pursue pleasure and joy, and with the people you love alongside you. Reset your mindset and focus on all of the things that would make your life better.
3. Keep active
An active mind is a happy mind. Ikigai recommends that you take small, regular exercise breaks throughout the day. Even if it’s getting up and doing a lap of your home or workplace. These small exercise breaks will keep your mind and body healthy and happy.
Joel Fuhrman and Mehmet C. Oz show us the importance of a healthy and balanced diet and challenge what we believe to be true about nutrition.
1. Bin the junk
Quite an obvious bit of advice, but important nonetheless: you can’t stay at an optimal level if you’re eating nutrient-deficient foods. When you’re trying to eat healthily, focus on nutrients rather than calories or quantities.
2. Lay off the meat
Meat contains nutrients, but also unhealthy elements and large amounts of fat. A truly healthy diet will always be plant-based. So either vegetarian or vegan, or a diet with minimal meat intake. This is because vegetables contain more nutrients and are overall a far healthier option.
Processed food has all sorts stuffed into it. You can never be 100% sure how your body is going to react as there are so many variables. To better understand what your body reacts well to, make sure you’re eating as much natural food as possible. So try swapping out refined sugars for the natural sugars we get from fruit.
Do you want to live until you’re 100 years old? Dan Buettner examines the 5 “Blue Zones” of the world where people live the longest.
1. It’s not genes, it’s the lifestyle
1 in 4,000 Americans lives to be over 100 years old. That’s a whopping 0.025%.
But over in Sardinia, a small island off the southern coast of Italy, 1 in 600 people live to be 100 or older. As it turns out, Sardinians live a very natural lifestyle. They spend a lot of time outdoors, move around a lot more, and eat a natural, Mediterranean diet.
2. Drink more, eat less
Studies show that drinking five to six glasses of water a day will help you live longer. It also shows that we eat our meals the wrong way around. In Western culture, dinner is the largest meal of the day. When in fact, lunch should be your biggest meal. This way, you’re not falling asleep on a full stomach.
3. Don’t lose purpose
Living a long life is just as much about your mental health as it is your physical health. Do you know when most healthy Americans die? That’s right, in their first year of retirement. It’s often thought that this is because people lose their sense of purpose. So make sure that your job isn’t what’s keeping you alive.
Elizabeth Blackburn shows us how to live healthier and stay younger, longer, by unlocking the secret of the Telomere Effect.
1. Look after your cells
In order to keep our bodies in tiptop shape, our cells have to regenerate frequently. However, certain cells’ regeneration rates have a shorter shelf life than others. So you’ll want to avoid anything that might unnecessarily damage these cells, such as excessive sun exposure, or tanning beds, to try and slow your rate of getting older.
2. It’s a mind game
It’s important to keep your mental state balanced. Any sort of emotional outburst isn’t good for your body. Stress, anxiety and depression can not only affect your mood, but your overall health.
Make sure to regularly check in with yourself. Try to regulate your emotions and find inner calm.
3. Exercise, rest, repeat
There’s nothing better for your body than good old fashioned exercise. Regularly exercising boosts all manner of long-term benefits. Whether you’re going for a quick run after work, setting off for a bike ride, or merely walking around the block a few times, exercise keeps your body healthy and your mind clear.