Are you planning on living to 100? There are actually around 450,000 centenarians in the world, 72,000 of them in the US. Longevity, is about a whole slew of factors. Genes naturally play a role. So do the armies of free radical agents that rummage inside of us. Other factors include antioxidants, exercise and nutrition, negative attitudes, brain health, and mitigating stress.
Living to 100 relies on those thousands of mind-blowing parts and systems inside the body that operate in sync and keep us functioning harmoniously – homeostasis. The point about homeostasis is that any blockage to that glorious orchestration of cells, organs, and systems can throw us into disrepair—and a shortening of our lifespan.
The Free Radical Theory of Aging (FRTA) stipulates that aging is the continuous battle between oxidative stress (akin to what makes a piece of metal rust when left in the open) and antioxidants. In that raging “wear and tear” war, stress is a powerful enemy, and antioxidants (berries, leafy veggies, nuts, red wine, dark chocolate, etc.) fight back and support our longevity.
And although we conduct this battle gallantly day in and day out, the best we can is try to live as long as possible—perhaps living to 100 and beyond.
According to Thomas Perls, Associate Professor of Medicine at Boston University, 50% of those who make it to 100+ have in their ancestry people who also aged beyond the norms. In other studies, we learn that perhaps up to 25% of the longevity factor is due to our genes.
Although many other family studies associate longevity with both genetic and non-genetic factors, recent findings showed that even the offspring of those with abnormally long lifespans are likely to live long and less likely to suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. No need for alarm though, for there are hordes of centenarians whose parents only lived to their 70’s or 80’s.
In today’s fast-paced lifestyles, we are driven to multi-tasking on a number of fronts, including family, financial, and job-related trials and tribulations. Stress can then evolve, particularly when we begin to give in to the circumstances that test us—when, fearfully, we question whether we have the fortitude to handle the challenges. Stress conjures up toxic thought processes, making us view our issues through the prism of fear and uncertainty.
Some of us learn to cope with stress more effectively than others, mostly by staying fit and embracing other stress-relief strategies. We thus owe it to ourselves to not let stress evolve into depression and other mental issues, for those would turn into decisive barriers to healthy aging.
Our basic attitude to life has a lot to do with how we handle stress. We may bring stress upon us unknowingly by having a cynical viewpoint to most ideas we face, or by holding on to a pessimistic outlook and walking around dejected and with low self-esteem.
So, get rid ofthat destructive and incessant self-criticism that you entertain, and replace it instead with open-mindedness and recognition of who you are. Focus on your generous deeds towards others, on every time you exhibited kindness and compassion, for in the end, we all have it in us to be filled with compassion and to love and be loved. That would be a necessary step towards turning into a positive frame of mind.
The old adage still works wonders: strain your brain, your witts to retain. Moreover, if you’ve never stopped to wonder about the human brain, perhaps now would be a good time. This 3-lb. sensation spends 80, 90, 100+ years supervising, adjusting, and refining everything that goes on in your body, from the littlest cell, to your heart, respiratory and other major systems. It uses billions of “synapses” (nerve cells) to facilitate communications with every part of your body and maintain that state of harmony and balance so essential for long living.
The recipe from experts is to keep mental faculties working withthought-provoking mental activities that are both entertaining and engaging. If you want to be living to 100 with good health and vitality, keep your mind working. Naturally, crossword puzzles come to mind, as do chess, card games such as bridge and, especially, games that achieve both stimulating the mind as well as socialising.
Boomers, you know well what it takes, so the question is: are you going to make the necessary adjustments? It’s simple really: fight off stress, stay healthy, and you can be one of the people living to 100, no matter what your genetic inheritance consists of.