Today's life expectancy is 75 years for men and 80 years for women. That's better
than it was in 1970—when life expectancy was 69 for men and 74 for women-but people still could be living much longer. Many of us can increase life expectancy and have a good chance of reaching 100. Here's how…
Fight Free Radicals
Every cell has hundreds of mitochondria, which convert nutrients into energy. During this conversion process, mitochondria create waste—particularly free radicals, molecules that cause inflammation and cell damage. The mitochondria in someone over age 60 are 40% less efficient than the mitochondria in someone age 40.
Result: More inflammation...more damaged cells...and more age-related diseases.
Solution 1: Eat colorful produce. Fruits and vegetables with bright colors—red grapes, blueberries, tomatoes, etc.—are high in flavonoids and carotenoids, antioxidants that inhibit free radicals and reduce inflammation.
Solution 2: Take coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). If you don't eat lots of produce—and most people don't—consider this supplement, which can improve the efficiency of mitochondria. It also is a potent antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals. I usually recommend that people start taking CoQ10 after age 35.
Dose: 200 milligrams (mg) daily (100 mg in the morning and 100 mg in the afternoon). The gel-cap form is easier for the body to absorb than the tablets.
Eat Fish Instead Of Meat
Americans eat a lot of red meat, one of the main sources of saturated fat. Saturated fat increases LDL "bad" cholesterol, one of the main risk factors for heart disease, and stimulates the body's production of inflammatory proteins, believed to be an underlying cause of most age-related diseases, including cancer.
Solution 1: Eat fish three times a week. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish reduce inflammation...increase joint lubrication...decrease risk for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and arterial clots...improve immunity...reduce menopausal discomfort...and improve memory and other cognitive functions.
Solution 2: Take DHA if you don't eat fish regularly. Fish oil supplements contain the omega-3s docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)—but humans need only the DHA.
Daily dose: 400 mg of DHA for women, and 600 mg for men. Buy the algae form. It doesn't have the fishy taste—or the undesirable additives that prolong shelf life—found in many fish oil supplements.
It's estimated that about 50 million Americans should be taking aspirin daily, but only about 20 million are doing so.
Reasons: Some people don't know that they should be taking aspirin. Others experience stomach upset when using it. And some tend to think that a drug that's so cheap and readily available isn't likely to be effective.
Fact: In studies, taking 162 mg of aspirin daily reduces the risk for a heart attack by about 36% and the risk for colon, esophageal, throat and stomach cancers by about 45%. Serious side effects from aspirin are rare.
Solution: Take one-half of a regular aspirin or two 81-mg (baby) aspirins daily (162 mg total)—but check with your doctor first. Buy the cheapest tablets. These usually are unbuffered and dissolve more quickly in the stomach.
Also helpful: Drink half a glass of warm water before and after taking aspirin. It causes the aspirin to dissolve more rapidly, so it doesn't stick to the stomach wall—the main cause of discomfort.
Boost Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide is a naturally occurring, short-lived gas that is produced mainly in the lining of blood vessels. It plays a critical role in vasodilation-the expansion of blood vessels that allows blood to circulate with less force. Nitric oxide is thought to lower blood pressure, reduce the buildup of plaque in atherosclerosis and foster better lung function. The traditional American diet, which promotes the accumulation of fat-laden deposits on artery walls, lowers nitric oxide in the blood.
Solution: Eat less saturated fat. Limit foods that are high in saturated fat, such as meats, butter and whole-milk dairy products. Studies show that the body's production of nitric oxide declines immediately after peuple eat a meal that is high in saturated fat-and nitric oxide levels stay depressed for about four hours after such a meal.
Researchers have found that chronic stress prematurely shortens telomeres, the tips of chromosomes that control the ability of cells to divide and repair damaged tissues. Impaired cell division is among the main causes of age-related diseases. Research has shown that people who achieve control over daily stress have lower levels of harmful stress hormones, lower blood pressure and better immunity.
Solution: Meditate for five minutes daily. Sit silently, and try to clear your mind of thoughts. To help do this, pick a word (it doesn't matter what it is), and repeat it to yourself over and over. Focusing on the one word helps prevent other thoughts from entering your mind. Another stress reducer is exercise, such as yoga or walking.
Sugar consumption in the US has increased almost every year since the early 1980s. The average American eats 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day-from sweets, soft drinks, table sugar, etc.
Because sugary foods often replace more healthful foods in the diet, they're a primary cause of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis.
Of course, a high-sugar diet contributes to obesity, a main cause of diabetes. Excessive sugar (glucose) in the blood can result in nerve damage, kidney failure, memory problems, eye disease and arthritis.
Solution: Avoid sugar. Also avoid other white carbohydrates, such as white rice, white potatoes and white flour. These "simple sugars" have few nutrients and cause blood sugar to spike.
Diabetes indicator: If you have to urinate more than 12 times a day, or more than three times in a three-hour period, ask your doctor to test your urine for sugar, an early indicator of diabetes.
Falls—and the resulting broken bones and complications—are among the top five causes of death.
Solution: A regular exercise regimen-particularly weight-bearing exercise, including lifting weights and using exercise bands-increases muscle strength and bone density. Taking a daily walk strengthens leg bones, but you also need exercises that target the upper body.
Self-test: Stand on one foot with your arms out to the sides. Close your eyes, and count the seconds until you fall off balance. If you can't stay balanced for 15 seconds at age 40 or seven seconds at age 60 or older, your balance and/or strength aren't optimal. Ask your doctor about balancing exercises, etc.