What does the quality of a person’s aging depend on?
There are those who are terrified of it and those who try not to think about it: aging is a very sensitive issue, also because, in one way or another, it affects us all.
I’m sure you’ve heard of longevity, it’s now a topic that is talked about a lot on websites and on television. I think it’s good to talk about it, but I wouldn’t want it to be abused.
Medicine, unfortunately, despite many successes, has allowed a considerable lengthening of the average life span but not a great increase in the quality of life – especially in the last years of our existence. Living long makes a lot of sense, but living long and badly doesn’t seem like much.
Health is undoubtedly the greatest gift, being the only thing that basically unites everyone. And it should be a constant concern, positively, every time you make choices regarding nutrition on the one hand and physical activity on the other, which should never be missing.
In short. The longevity theme is not something external. It is something that is in you and that you must consider preventively as a sum of good habits, based on prevention.
For years I have been saying that you should go to the doctor when you are well, but evidently I am still a white fly in a context where there is little prevention and we hope instead for an easy and immediate solution when the problem has already arisen. The reasoning, although paradoxical, has a very solid scientific basis.
Today I want to explain these three concepts to you:
– what does aging depend on
– what are the factors to consider and how much they affect your long-term health
– what can you do from today to try to live healthy and happy to the end, rather than sick and weak for 120 years.
As I think you know, I was the pioneer in Italy of the so-called anti-aging medicine, but let’s forget these labels for a moment and let’s try to think together on such an important issue. Let’s try to understand what are the real factors on which we should work every day to safeguard our health.
I don’t think it’s important to live long if you get there without autonomy and strength. My desire is to create protocols that help people be the best possible version, healthy and happy, until the end of their days.
What does the quality of our aging depend on?
If you follow me you know that I don’t have a great passion for the term longevity, indeed I think it has been used too much and that it is also in a sense a term that leads us astray, because, what does longevity mean? It means living for a long time, but today we already live for a long time and if one were to look at the statistic of the increase of the over one hundred year olds it is impressive. The average life span itself, in Italy, has grown dramatically thanks to improved hygiene conditions, an enrichment of the basic diet and above all the extension of the medical and health protections produced by welfare.
However, despite these figures taking us to the top of the international rankings, the real fact that needs to be taken into account is this: how much of the long life we live is truly healthy? ISTAT tells us that a man can enjoy 59.7 years of health, 57.8 for women (2017 data). Basically, there is a gap of almost 20 years in which it is not really good.
The data isn’t bad, but it makes you think. What happens if we keep this second figure on the years of health unchanged, while instead increasing the general one of life expectancy?
We will have cases of long-lived people who live much longer, but with a very low quality of life, with a huge need for assistance, help and hospital pharmacological support and this is already causing a very serious problem now, in economic terms. , for the health systems of all Western countries.
It will not have escaped you that caring for the elderly has become a real business.
So continuing to insist on this theoretical longevity, which in practice is what we see every day in our elderly, it seems a bit out of place.
Much better to talk about the quality of this aging , what are the things we need to take care of to ensure that yes we will live long, but above all we will live well, we will arrive strong, energetic, happy and autonomous up to at the end, or as close to the end as possible.
This is the concept of disease compression that was suggested many decades ago by an American researcher named James Fries and who essentially wanted to emphasize the possibility of compressing diseases as much as possible. as close as possible to the moment of death.
Today the opposite is happening, that is, we have managed to extend the life of even people with a very low level of health, but all in all this has lengthened the years of illness, the years of suffering.
People are still weak, exposed, as the facts have sadly proved.
Then the next step for medicine should be to guarantee more and more quality of life and this is done by starting to work on subjects very early, when they are still healthy.
This, I must also tell you, is my interpretation of anti-aging medicine: anti-aging medicine means anti-aging, it is neither a medicine nor capable of preventing aging, nor should it be a medicine that prolongs life indefinitely.
What anti-aging medicine should do, like it or not like this term, I have never loved it that much I must say, is to try to preserve as much functional capacity as possible for as long as possible.
So let’s try to understand for a second what the quality of aging depends on, basically we know, depends for a good 50% on the behaviors we adopt during our life :
– if we smoke, if we drink too much alcohol, if we are sedentary, if we exercise or eat very well. So our behavior, the choices of daily life are fundamental and determine the most important slice of the cake that defines what leads us to live long, but above all to live well.
– another 20% undoubtedly depends on genetics, that is, on that heritage of skills that have been transferred to us from our parents and d it is clear that in those families where there are long-lived people but healthy, there is a high possibility that some of these protective genes have been transferred .
– another 20% depends on the environment. Unfortunately, we have less and less control over this and more and more problems. By environment I mean the quality of the air, the quality, let’s say in terms of chemicals in food, water, but also if we want the colors of the environment, how much nature there is, what noises are there, how much there is stress …
– 10% depends on the care that can be provided to maintain this quality of life for as long as possible. It is clear that we can do quite little on the genetic aspect, there are large cases of super long-lived, the most famous is Jeanne Calment, 122 years old and 164 days spent almost all in good health. Of course it is a model that somewhat undermines any preventive hypothesis because Ms. Calment smoked until the end of her life, but this is not a model to bet on. There are one in several millions of people like this, those who use these models as an alibi for not adopting a healthy lifestyle almost always systematically lose this bet. On the epigenetics instead we can do something more, that is on a behavior and on how this behavior stimulates the expression of our genes and here we have two types of epigenetic regulations:
– a very geographical one, which has also been cataloged by some researchers who have used the name “blue zones” to define areas of the world where there are many people who not only live long, but live well. The islands of Okinawa in Japan, some areas of Costa Rica, Barbagia in Sardinia, all very isolated areas. If there is one feature that these areas share, it is their isolation, so areas where a slow lifestyle has been maintained, a sober, moderate diet, with local foods, in contact with nature and in the case of Okinawa great contact also on a spiritual level thanks to the practice of martial arts, meditation.
Models that are very interesting but difficult to apply in the Western world, in the world we live in.
In the world we live in, however, we can adopt an epigenetics that I define “driven”, that is to try to create a set of stimuli similar to those to which people living in the blue areas are exposed, but create them in the our environment and how can we do this?
We can do this by adopting what I call i four foundations of a healthy life , that is, learning to manage our diet, using food supplement supports to fill the deficit of an increasingly refined, increasingly industrialized, increasingly full of chemicals diet , a disciplined practice of physical training, which replaces all that part of physical work that is no longer done in the West, and an equally disciplined practice of managing the mind from the psycho-emotional and, I dare say, also, if we want, spiritual part in the sense of that part that gives a deeper meaning to our existence through techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, Thai chi, autogenic training . There are many and everyone can choose their own because they basically act in a very similar way.
So becoming able to drive epigenetics means becoming master of the four foundations of health and inserting them into your daily life for long enough for them to have a profound regulatory action. It is clear that the earlier we start the better.
Then there is one last aspect that I want to mention that concerns a fundamental characteristic of all those who live well the last years of their life, which is optimism.
It is a positive aspect of their emotional side that always allows you to see the glass half full rather than the glass half empty, it is clear that this is something that many see as luck, but in reality is more subtle.
In peoples who use meditation – for example – there is less stress burden. So it may seem causal that they are more optimistic and more open. In the western world, very hectic, little attention has been given to mental health, not understanding that it can have positive implications also on the physical level.
We are able to control everything: the weather, the weather, the telephone, the internet, many variables that we obsessively keep under control and we completely surrender to the idea that we can learn to control ourselves first.
Anti-aging diets (with the mistake of forgetting the importance of physical activity) are at the center of the debate. I myself have proposed some anti-aging recipes in my blog, which can help you get rid of an industrial, prepackaged diet, excessively rich in sugar and salt, with too many trans fats . You can use them to start varying your diet.
The most popular anti-aging diets are based on very valid concepts: a calorie restriction, i.e. eating less with fewer portions, combined with a choice of healthy, fresh foods, with a prevalence of vegetables over meats and a balance in the breakdown of macronutrients.
Other diets, we have talked about, seem to mimic the effects of fasting, an ancient practice, linked to the religious traditions of many populations around the world. Intermittent fasting pursues two objectives: eating more balanced and simulating the effects of fasting, thanks to time windows in which sugars decrease, there is less activity of the liver, the appetite is regulated thus allowing to obtain also results on the plan. of weight.
This is a relevant point, in my opinion. Often people tend to mistake everything that passes under the name of ” diet of longevity “, or at least those diets based on long-lasting well-being, as methods to lose weight.
I already wrote that there are no magic recipes. Weight loss counts for little if you are unable to maintain a healthy weight over time. The frustration of these situations is known to anyone who has tried too drastic regimes with the hope of losing weight.
Foods to stay young
The foods that keep you young are those that contain substances that can slow down inflammatory processes. Inflammations can depend on oxidative stress, due to the excess of free radicals , which act on the skin, hair as well as other tissues, damaging them over time.
I have already placed a lot of emphasis on the fact that fats have a very important function and that you shouldn’t criminalize them regardless. Indeed, a thorough understanding of the difference between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids can guide you towards a more informed choice. That’s why the food I often recommend is extra virgin olive oil .
As Italians we are lucky enough to have it in our typical Mediterranean diet, balanced enough to include vegetables and fresh, seasonal foods. EVO oil is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidants present help maintain healthy skin while also improving its appearance.
Fish should be part of the weekly diet, as an alternative to red meats, which should be eaten in moderation, as well as dairy products. Mackerel, trout, salmon are meats rich in healthy fatty acids, which also protect against damage from sun exposure.
The vegetables and vegetables should be part of your diet at all times, by always I mean every day and preferably for both main meals. We grow up not appreciating vegetables especially as children, but as adults we tend to rediscover them. Tomato (rich in lycopene which protects the heart, prostate), broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, watercress contain vitamins and minerals that fight skin aging.
In addition to vegetables, fruit rich in vitamin C is an excellent complement given its immune potential. So certainly the most typical citrus fruits and grapefruit, pomegranate, but also avocado which has now entered our shopping cart.
The antioxidant power of certain fruits is also found in foods that are consumed less for various reasons. For example, dried fruit (walnuts, almonds), but especially extra dark chocolate and green tea. Spices also have these properties, first of all the cayenne pepper, rich in capsaicin or ginger, which is increasingly appreciated as a salad dressing.
To pursue longevity it is therefore not only necessary to lose weight.
It is necessary to have in mind a global concept that brings together a different way of eating, based on the principles of healthy eating, on constant physical activity over time, on a more moderate philosophy of life, also based on the search for psychological well-being ( and therefore less stress) and other various measures.
I explain all of these things in my free course Boost your health .