6 Secrets to Great Health and Longevity
Originally posted on https://rhpositive.co/2019/09/18/6-secrets-to-great-health-and-longevity/
Man’s ultimate wish is to live longer and be healthier. Within the field of medicine and health, there are discoveries and innovations every day. It comes to the same conclusion: these studies prove we as humans need to go, “Back to basics,”.
It means how we used to eat and live decades ago. Over the years environmental conditions and our lifestyles have changed with ever-increasing stress.
Humans are striving to find ways to be disease-free and to live longer. Functional Medicine is one tool that has helped to open new avenues in the fields of nutrition and lifestyle.
Every human is unique because of race, gender, demographic-makeup and our genetics. That’s why it makes sense that the nutritional needs and requirements can vary for everyone.
Many studies in the past few decades have helped us decipher human genes and the factors affecting genes. We now have extensive studies on how the food we eat and the environment we live in affects our genes and so our health. We know this science as Epigenetics.
I have found that by implementing the six factors will lead to good health and longevity.
1. Social Circle and Longevity
The number one factor that contributes to greater health and longevity is an individual’s social behaviour. This may sound surprising but, “Healthy,” social life is in fact far more important than a good diet and exercise. A healthy social circle means happy relationships with family members, friends, or peers at work.
Social bonding keeps people happy and having a sense of community, works wonders for one’s health. It gives a person a sense of worthiness and satisfaction. Humans have always lived in groups and we are by nature social animals. Those who live in isolation or alone are prone to die earlier when compared to people with good social life. [Study]
Our Social behaviour and circle have a profound effect and we can say it is the number one secret among the top 6 secrets to great health and longevity.
2. Gut Health is very Important
Gut Health is the second most important predictor of your health status and longevity. From the time we are born until the day we die the microbiome in our intestine regulates our immunity and health.
When a baby is born it has a sterile intestine with no bacteria inside. The mother’s milk is the actual source of intestinal microbes for the first few months of an infant’s life. Then thereafter, whatever we feed the baby.
Hundreds of toxins and pathogens enter our digestive tract on a basis daily. We are alive because of these intestinal bacteria and the important work they do. These microbes help produce short-chain fatty acids. Commonly, we call these healthy bacteria as Probiotics. [Study]
What is Short-Chain Fatty Acids?
Our Intestinal microbes feed on digestible fibre, especially soluble fibre. They do so by fermenting the digestible fibre within the intestine and produce SCFA’s.
These short-chain fatty acids have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. There are several fibres which help in the production of SCFA’s. This different subtypes of fibres and their sources:
- Inulin-found in garlic, onions, leeks, artichokes, asparagus
- Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS)-found in bananas, onions, garlic and various fruits and vegetables
- Resistant Starch-found in rice, green bananas, legumes, potatoes, and grains. Note that rice, grains and legumes when cooked and cooled turn into resistant starch)
- Pectin-found in carrots, ginger, apples, and oranges
Role of SCFA’s
SCFA’s helps in the production of vitamins, mineral and immune cell development. The gut microbiome comprises both healthy and unhealthy bacteria. The healthy bacteria comprise 80% of the total gut microbiome population while the unhealthy bacteria comprise the rest of the 20%.
The quality of food, water, pathogens, toxins and various environmental exposures affect this ratio to a great extent. Ingesting things bad for one’s diet such as processed foods, meats, trans fatty acids and heavy metals promotes unhealthy bacteria. This leads to a condition known as Intestinal Dysbiosis.
Intestinal Dysbiosis gives pathogenic and unhealthy bacteria a chance to overgrow. These throw off that needed 80-20 balance. To keep our gut microbiome healthy we need to feed it with high-quality food, pure water, and avoid exposure to toxic elements.
Digestive Health is one of the most important among the 6 Secrets to Great Health and Longevity.
3. Food affects our Health
Food comes at number 3 among the Top 6 secrets to great health and longevity. It is not only the source of calories but nutrients as well that powers our body. The human body requires calories daily to run its vital functions necessary for our survival.
Nutrients in food serve many purposes. They act as cofactors and enzymes to support various functions and biochemical reactions in the body. Nutrients not only include vitamins and minerals but phytonutrient, polyphenols and other antioxidants.
The phytonutrient help to neutralise the free radicals and support detoxification. The higher a person’s free radical production-rate, greater is the need for antioxidants.
Any imbalance in neutralising capacity can cause an overload of free radicals. This imbalance leads to a condition known as Oxidative stress. These free radicals can damage the genes and signal bad genes to express disease or ill-health.
Food and Genetics
We as human beings are different and have genetic variations. Sometimes our biology misses some genes which referred to as ‘Genetic mutation’. This mutation in the genetic make-up interferes with processing, metabolism or detoxification of certain nutrients or chemicals. This is one example of something that makes everyone unique.
Because of this mutation, one food can be a saviour for one person and that same food can be illness or death-causing for another. Science has come up with a solution to decipher your genetic defects through genetic testing.
Lots of labs perform genetic testing to identify those missing genes or links. Though we can identify and read only a few hundreds of genes, this still is useful.
Interpreting those genetic variations to help us determine what is best for our own biology. It determines the extra nutrient or supplement to support the functioning of that missing gene. Hence, the right nutrients and food prevent the negative expression of bad genes.
Which Diet is Best?
There are a lot of diets out there which advocate about better health and longevity, look at how many get talked about on the news! Hence we can’t say any diet is better than the other.
The basic principle of a diet is to eat a well-balanced diet containing natural unprocessed foods. A balanced diet is a mix of complex carbs (a lot of vegetables), healthy fats and clean protein into your meals. Another option is to eat according to the demographics and seasons.
We should eat foods according to what our grandparents or even great-grandparents used to eat. It makes sense to add similar types of food categories to our diet to make up for the deficit of foods unavailable within certain demographics. For example, people living away from the ocean or a seashore can add more nuts and seeds for Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.
4. Spirituality promotes Longevity
Many studies have illustrated the connection between spirituality, health and longevity. In the interviews, people aged above 100 told that spirituality and religion played an important role in their longevity.
For these centenarians, their belief is that spirituality helped and guided them through the highs and lows of life. These studies also claim that spirituality has utility in later years of life by serving as a coping tool.
Religious and spiritual beliefs alter an individual’s orientation toward life and situations. It increases awareness and consciousness. It also adds a sense of responsibility towards the society and individuals. [Study]
Spiritual activities such as yoga, meditation, chanting and prayer increase coherence and resilience. These activities also lower blood pressure and heart rate through increased parasympathetic activity. The food we eat and spiritual activity we engage in affects our Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
How HRV affects our Health & Longevity?
HRV is a predictor of health and longevity. There are minute intervals in between the beats. These intervals between beats are non-linear and differ from beat to beat. A higher HRV value reflects better health and a lower one shows poor health.
The food we eat, exercise we do and our response to stressors all affect HRV to a great extent. There are many apparatuses which can measure the HRV. We can modulate HRV by using different spiritual practices as explained above. [Study]
Our heart rate is a product of emotional stress and our response to it. Our heart rate varies in response to stimulation from our Autonomic nervous system. The autonomic system comprises the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system promotes calmness and relaxation. But Sympathetic does the opposite. A higher parasympathetic activity and HRV translates into good health and longevity.
5. Fasting is Anti-ageing
Fasting has long been used as a tool to improve health and longevity since ages ago in India. Within India, fasting has long been a way of living healthy and disease-free. People in India used to observe fast during certain days connected to religious occasions spread throughout the year.
Now it’s clear that having a low-calorie and fasting can increase the telomere length. A telomere is like plastic encase at the end of a shoelace protecting the gene from damaging. Telomere length decreases with age because of an increase in free radical production.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a gap between your last meal of the day & your first meal the next day. To reap the benefits of intermittent fasting, one should avoid eating at least 14-16 hours during a day.
Fasting also gives our body a rest from spending too much energy on digestion. This loss of energy-focused upon digestion affects our brain and mental health.
Fasting also promotes ketone body production which can bypass the blood-brain barrier. These ketones act as fuel to the brain and provide other health benefits. A low-carbohydrate diet decreases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases. [Study]
Intermittent Fasting is a tool among the 6 secrets towards health and longevity if used wisely and consistently can be a life saviour.
Moderate exercise or any physical activity helps one to live healthier and longer. Exercise prevents telomere shortening and increases longevity. It also improves gut function and immunity.
Exercise has cardio-respiratory benefits, and it also prevents age-related declines in brain function. Moderate exercise supports healthy arteries via increasing nitric oxide production.
Extreme endurance exercise, such as running marathons, adds stress on the Cardiovascular system. It also put a lot of demand for the adrenal system leading to an increase in cortisol levels. Increase in cortisol for longer periods leads to lower testosterone levels in men.
Lower testosterone levels in men increase the risk of depression and loss of libido. It also leads to a decrease in bone density, loss of muscle mass and brain function. Thus, over-extended oneself with excessive exercise is not a wise choice.
Moderate exercise is smart, and it benefits you with no side effects. In fact, one study shows that moderate exercise 4-5 days a week has many health benefits.
Moderate exercise not only helps us to reduce oxidative stress but also boost our immunity. It also lowers stress by the release of endorphins, boosts growth hormone and other anabolic hormones for vitality and health. Exercise is one of 6 secret which promotes health and longevity by balancing neurotransmitter and hormones.
How we can help you?
We, at RH+, focuses on four pillars of health i.e. Food, Sleep, Digestion and Activity. We also pay attention to the psychosocial and emotional health of a person and advise the best ways to deal with it, even if it is referring to some specialist practitioner.