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When she was 116 years old, the Guinness Book of Records announced Kane Tanaka as the oldest woman in the world whose age is unquestionably confirmed. Since then, she hasn’t stopped breaking records, and this January (2022) celebrated her 119th birthday.

During her birthday celebration, people were curious as to the happiest moment she has ever experienced in her life. She surprised and touched them deeply by answering with just one word: “Now.”

Kane Tanaka
Tanaka in 1923, aged 20

When you think about a woman who’s been around since 1903, you may believe that her life wasn’t very active or eventful. But Tanaka actually makes it a habit to wake up at 6am every morning and passes her day studying Mathematics and calligraphy.

Many along the way have asked her about her secret for longevity, to which she answered that it all has to do with a belief in God, the family that surrounds her and her healthy sleep habits. If you’re wondering, even at her venerable age, Tanaka does not give up on coffee, and drinks at least three cups a day, as well as fizzy drinks.

Kane Tanaka Birthday
Tanaka at the Guinness record award ceremony

Tanaka’s story teaches us that there’s always hope for change – despite and sometimes thanks to the difficulties we encounter during our lives. When she was “only” 103 years old, Tanaka was diagnosed with colon cancer, and against all odds – managed to beat it. Sixteen years have passed since that moment, and all that’s left for us is to wish her many more healthy years to come.

Earthing is an ancient practice that has been recently rediscovered by environmental medicine. Though it is a simple process, it has potentially incredible benefits for those who practice it. In a society that is dominated by electronics, it should be no surprise that simply reconnecting with the Earth can make people feel healthier and happier.

Earthing, also known as grounding, is the process of “walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems that transfer the Earth’s electrons from the ground into the body.” (1)

Grounding is best viewed as a preventative lifestyle that can help prevent and reverse the damage that is being done to our bodies by the modern lifestyle which often does not include being outdoors on a regular basis.

By practicing Earthing on a regular basis and actively connecting with the electrons flowing through the earth, it is possible to undo much of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and muscle damage that has occurred in a person.

earthing and grounding
Earthing on a regular basis and actively connecting with the electrons flowing through the earth

Is there Science Behind Earthing/ Grounding?

Although grounding is a newer field of study, there has already been some research that has shown that regular earthing can help improve the health of those who live with cardiovascular disease, inflammatory conditions, chronic pain, and muscle damage. (2)

When viewed as a form of bio-hacking, earthing has also been shown to reduce a person’s stress levels and can significantly improve a person’s mental health and well-being by reducing depression, stress, and fatigue. 

In addition, when combined with healthy changes to diet and exercise, earthing has the potential to increase a person’s longevity and healthspan. (3)

These benefits can be achieved in a number of ways. The simplest, and most effective way, to practice grounding is to simply walk barefoot on the ground. It is important to note that direct contact with the earth is necessary for this to work, so walking on dirt, sand, grass, etc. is essential. These benefits cannot be achieved when you are walking on concrete or other man-made substances.

Submerge yourself or go swimming in a natural body of water such as the ocean, lakes, rivers, or streams

Another method of grounding is to lie directly on the ground or to submerge yourself or go swimming in a natural body of water such as the ocean, lakes, rivers, or streams.

It is not always possible to practice earthing outdoors. In cases of extreme weather, metropolitan living, or in cases where age or health conditions may not allow it, alternative methods of grounding should be utilized. These may include grounding mats, sheets, socks, or patches that mimic the electric current of the earth. 

What Are the Health Benefits of Earthing?

There are a number of health benefits that directly result from Earthing. These benefits can be felt after 30 minutes of direct, barefoot contact with the ground, and many people report feeling the positive effects after their first-time grounding. 

Not only has earthing been shown to improve both a person’s healthspan and lifespan, but it also has a number of other incredible health benefits including: (4)

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Reduced pain
  • Lowered levels of stress
  • Improved blood flow
  • Improved energy
  • More restful sleep and better sleep quality
  • Reduces chronic fatigue
  • Improves sleep disorders
  • Reduced blood pressure levels

While grounding is generally recommended for everyone, it is still important to discuss it with your doctor if you have any serious underlying medical conditions. Earthing should not be used as a replacement for any medications or other treatment options that you may be currently undergoing without first talking with your doctor.

earthing benefits
Many people report feeling the positive effects after their first-time grounding

How Long Does It Take to Experience the Benefits?

Some of the immediate benefits of earthing, such as improved blood flow, improved energy, and reduction of pain and inflammation have been reported as soon as 30 minutes after a grounding session.

In one study, a diabetic woman with a persistent open wound on her ankle reported significantly decreased pain after 30 minutes of grounding treatment with an electrode patch. After one week of daily 30-minute treatments, she reported a pain reduction of 80%, and the limp that she had initially presented with was completely gone.

After two weeks of the daily treatments, she was completely pain free and her persistent wound, that had resisted all other forms of treatment for eight months, was almost completely healed. (5)

How Often Should Earthing Be Done?

If possible, grounding should be performed for at least 30 minutes every day. Simply going outside and lying on the grass in your backyard, taking a barefoot walk on the beach, or standing in the grass at a park can all provide the above health benefits.

It may not be possible for everyone to regularly practice holistic grounding however. If possible, a person should try to practice grounding as often as they are able to. Even once or twice a week can provide some of the health benefits, such as decreased depression and increased blood flow.

For those who do not have regular access to nature, grounding mats may be utilized to mimic receive similar benefits.

Immediate benefits of earthing include improved blood flow, energy, and reduction of pain and inflammation

What Are Grounding Mats?

Grounding mats are devices that are connected by a wire to the ground port of your home. It is important to note that you are not plugging directly into an electrical port, but rather the ground wire of your home. Most grounding mats come with instructions that detail how to use them and where to find this port in your home.

Grounding mats come in a variety of sizes, and can be used flat on the floor, on or under a desk, or on a bed so that a person can place their bare body, hands, or feet on it. While there has been less research done on these mats that on direct grounding methods, the research than has been done on them shows promise. (6)

In particular, there has been evidence to show that grounding mats can improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and lower stress levels when used regularly and correctly.

Conclusion

Earthing provides several incredible and holistic health benefits and it is a simple process that the majority of people can do. While the most significant benefits can be achieved when earthing is practiced on a daily basis, it is still possible to see results when done only once or twice a week.

Walking barefoot on the grass, sand, or dirt allows our bodies to reconnect with the earth and allows us to absorb the electrons that can help rebalance our bodies. In turn, this can help prevent and heal several health conditions and has been proven to help those who do it regularly to improve their healthspan, longevity, and overall happiness.

Any person can access and reap the benefits of grounding with minimal effort, and it is a practice that everyone should take part in as often as possible.

Resources

(1)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/#:~:text=Earthing%20(or%20grounding)%20refers%20to,the%20ground%20into%20the%20body.
(2)https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding
(3)https://publichealth.wustl.edu/heatlhspan-is-more-important-than-lifespan-so-why-dont-more-people-know-about-it/
(4)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550830719305476
(5)https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378297/
(6)https://www.healthline.com/health/under-review-grounding-mats

When was the last time you stood up? Was it more than half an hour ago?

While it’s true that sitting and lying down gives relief to our bodies, resting too much only causes harm. If you’re living a sedentary lifestyle, you increase the chances of chronic diseases, turbulent mental health, and even early death [1].

You might be thinking, “Well, I don’t stay sedentary that much.” 

But with how our modern society is designed, see how this daily schedule may sound familiar:

  • Wake up from a 7-hour sleep [2] and sit down for breakfast. You then sit in a car for half an hour [3] to get to your office.
  • Complete your 9-5 job inside a cubicle, where you only stand up for bathroom breaks or to have lunch—which you enjoy while sitting down.
  • Take another car ride home, where you’ll sit down for dinner and sit down to relax by the TV.
sitting too long
Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

It’s not just how technology has developed, too. We’ve been conditioned to sit down since we were young [4]. From having proper manners in school to the office, sitting still shows respect and discipline. We grew up thinking sitting down equals behaving, but it’s actually detrimental to our health.

In total, the average American spends more than half of their day sitting—a whopping 15 hours every single day [5]. This figure doesn’t even consider the coronavirus pandemic, which forced us into working from home—effectively decreasing our body movements even more [6].

Moreover, while many of us resort to doing some type of workout once a day, you can’t “make up” for the lost movement in one go [7], because our bodies should move regularly. To quote Katy Bowman, biomechanist and author of the best-selling book, Move Your DNA, “There is more to movement than exercise” [8].

sitting all day
Our bodies should move regularly

You’ll need to find a way to move constantly—which is what this article will help you achieve.

How Not Moving is Harmful

Let’s take a closer look at how a sedentary lifestyle or lack of regular movements negatively affects your physical health, mental state, and overall quality of life.

Higher Chances of Chronic Diseases

Obesity. Not moving regularly limits the number of calories you burn, which leads to an increase in weight gain and often results in obesity. Plus, once you’re overweight, research shows that people with obesity sit even more than people with average weight [9], putting you in a downward spiral.

Diabetes. Sedentary lifestyles also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by 112% [10, 11]. This is because sitting for long periods without limiting your calorie intake causes an increase in insulin resistance—a key driver of type 2 diabetes [12].

Heart Diseases. Moreover, you increase the chances of having cardiovascular diseases by 147% and the risk of cardiovascular mortality by 90% [11]. You’re more likely to experience coronary artery diseases, heart attacks, higher blood pressure, and strokes if you don’t move your body enough [13].

Poorer Mental Health

Depression and Anxiety. Not only are you affecting your physical wellbeing, but being sedentary also increases the risk of developing mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and stress [14, 15]. These researches aren’t talking about just being sad, but clinical disorders identified by physicians.

Increased Mortality Rate

Accelerated Aging. A study shows that women who spend most of their day sitting and doing minimal exercises had biologically older cells by eight years more than their actual age [16]. Moreover, those who sit upwards of 10 hours and participate in less than 40 minutes of physical activities every day had shorter telomeres—the part of DNA strands that protects chromosomes from getting older. 

Early Death. There is a 71% increase in the mortality rate for those who spend more than 6 hours a day sitting [17]. Even with significant exercising, sitting for 5-6 hours a day increases your mortality rate by 50% [18]. Physical inactivity is also the fourth leading risk for global mortality [19].

The message is clear: There are serious health effects of not moving. It kills us and makes us sick—the complete opposite of how we may perceive extended periods of rest to be.

In reality, constant movement is the key to a healthy body.

In reality, constant movement is the key to a healthy body

How to Stop Being Sedentary

It’s not easy to move all the time in our modern world today. “Human beings evolved as a walking entity, exploring the world on our feet,” said James Levine, MD, the author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot [20].

But the reality is that we’re now glued to our screens to work, socialize, and even entertain ourselves.

So how can we change our sedentary lifestyle to engage our bodies like we’re supposed to? Check out these steps to incorporate movement and start living a healthier life:

Practice Functional Movements and Patterns

Functional movement exercises enhance your ability to do everyday movements. 

“These are normalized, neurodevelopmental sequences that we see from birth on. It’s basically what human beings have to do in order to live life every day,” says John Rusin, DPT, strength coach and sports performance therapist [21].

So, try to make these movement patterns [22] regularly:

  • Squats: Lower yourself and use your ankles, knees, and hips to drive yourself back up. Squatting helps you develop muscles for multiple vertical levels throughout your day.
  • Lunges: Known as a “traveling squat,” lunges engage your lower body into a single-leg stance. This practice helps your balance and control, one leg at a time.
  • Hinges: Contrary to “lifting with your knees,” hinges develop your core and back muscles to lift heavy objects. Lift weights by leaning and raising your torso like a drawbridge.
  • Pushes and Pulls: Practice pushing and pulling something away and nearer to you. Have a combination of both vertical and horizontal versions to heighten your overall balance.

Carries: Develop dynamic stability by engaging your entire body in carrying heavy objects. The idea is that you shouldn’t feel the burn in just one area, but your whole body.

Additionally, enhance any of the functional movements by adding rotation to the pattern. You want to transfer power from your lower half to your upper half through your core, getting your body to function as one unit for full-body stability. 

Start Using a Standing Desk

For a more seamless integration of movement into your working life, switch to a standing desk so you can get into an upright position without interrupting your workflow. You’ll be able to adjust the height of your table whenever you need to take a break from sitting.

Here are a few tips for using a standing desk:

  • Set intervals to alternate between sitting and standing with your desk. A good ratio to keep in mind is 1:1 or 2:1, which means you should stand around 30 to 45 minutes per hour of sitting [23].
  • Ensure that the position of your keyboard allows your elbows to sit at a 90-degree angle [24].
  • Attach arm supports to your desk to reduce the pressure on your mouse-controlling wrist [24].
  • Relax your neck and shoulders and shift your weight from one foot to another to minimize strain.
  • Don’t slouch or lock your knees to prevent any injuries from standing for an extended time.

Ensure that you’re not standing too long, because that’s just as harmful as sitting too much. Instead, use standing desks correctly to help your blood circulation, engage your muscles, and boost your mood.

Exercise with Balance Boards

Another neat item you can try out is balance boards—a fitness tool for strength and balance training [25].

A balance board has a flat top and a dome-shaped bottom, allowing the board to shift in multiple directions. Since the base is unstable, you’ll have to use your muscles to maintain balance.

Here are some ways you can use a balance board:

  • Balancing: Step up to the board with your feet hip-distance apart. Tilt the board forward and backward, having it touch the floor without you falling over. Next, try doing it from side to side. Shift your body weight from left to right, slowly feeling the floor while keeping your balance.
  • Squats: While standing on top of the board, do mini squats to engage your lower body muscles and core strength. Place your arms in front and lower yourself while maintaining your balance.
  • Planking: Get into plank position—but with your hands on the balance board. Use your core muscles, slightly bend your elbows, and maintain a steady position.
  • Push-ups: Do push-ups on the balance board to engage your core and upper body muscles. Keep your hands on the sides, bend your elbows to lower yourself, and return to the starting position while keeping balance.

You can do many other exercises with a balance board, but these simple ones should get you started. Balance boards use your body weight to develop strength and balance, increasing your physical capability to do everyday tasks.

Stop Sitting Yourself to Death

Sedentary lifestyles are not natural. It increases your chances of getting chronic diseases, gives you poorer mental health, and increases your mortality rate.

No, our bodies should move around—at least once every 30 minutes.

You need to bring movement back to your life to extend your health span, improve your quality of life, and enjoy the world like you’re supposed to. So practice functional movements, start using a standing desk, and exercise with balance boards to give yourself a better life—one motion at a time.

Need more help in breaking free from your sedentary lifestyle?

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Citations

[1] Wilmot EG; Edwardson CL; Achana FA; Davies MJ; Gorely T; Gray LJ; Khunti K; Yates T; Biddle SJ; (n.d.). Sedentary time in adults and the association with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetologia. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22890825/


[2] 25, S. C. T. | M., Team, S. C., & Team, S. C. (2021, June 3). How much sleep does the average AMERICAN GET? The Checkup. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.singlecare.com/blog/news/sleep-statistics/


[3] Bureau, U. S. C. (2021, March 18). Census bureau estimates show average one-way travel time to work rises. The United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2021/one-way-travel-time-to-work-rises.html#:~:text=In%202019%2C%20the%20average%20one,about%2010%25%20over%2014%20years


[4] Blatt-Gross, C. (2015, January 3). Why do we make students sit still in class?. CNN. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/30/living/no-sitting-still-movement-schools/index.html


[5] Leech, J. (2019, June 19). Is sitting too much bad for your health?. Healthline. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/why-sitting-is-bad-for-you#prevalence-of-sitting


[6] Zheng, C., Huang, W. Y., Sheridan, S., Sit, C. H.-P., Chen, X.-K., & Wong, S. H.-S. (2020, August 19). COVID-19 pandemic brings a sedentary lifestyle in Young Adults: A cross-sectional and longitudinal study. International journal of environmental research and public health. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7503726/


[7] Duvivier BM; Schaper NC; Bremers MA; van Crombrugge G; Menheere PP; Kars M; Savelberg HH; (n.d.). Minimal intensity physical activity (standing and walking) of longer duration improves insulin action and plasma lipids more than shorter periods of moderate to vigorous exercise (cycling) in sedentary subjects when energy expenditure is comparable. PloS one. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23418444/


[8] Kuklovskai︠a︡ Elizaveta. (n.d.). DP. Amazon. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0718X8N7H/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1


[9] Levine JA; Lanningham-Foster LM; McCrady SK; Krizan AC; Olson LR; Kane PH; Jensen MD; Clark MM; (n.d.). Interindividual variation in posture allocation: Possible role in human obesity. Science (New York, N.Y.). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15681386/


[10] Park, J. H., Moon, J. H., Kim, H. J., Kong, M. H., & Oh, Y. H. (2020, November). Sedentary lifestyle: Overview of updated evidence of potential health risks. Korean journal of family medicine. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7700832/


[11] Wilmot EG; Edwardson CL; Achana FA; Davies MJ; Gorely T; Gray LJ; Khunti K; Yates T; Biddle SJ; (n.d.). Sedentary time in adults and the association with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetologia. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22890825/


[12] Krogh-Madsen R;Thyfault JP;Broholm C;Mortensen OH;Olsen RH;Mounier R;Plomgaard P;van Hall G;Booth FW;Pedersen BK; (n.d.). A 2-WK reduction of ambulatory activity ATTENUATES peripheral insulin sensitivity. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md.: 1985). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20044474/


[13] U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, May 5). Health risks of an inactive lifestyle. MedlinePlus. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://medlineplus.gov/healthrisksofaninactivelifestyle.html


[14] Sánchez-Villegas, A., Ara, I., Guillén-Grima, F., Bes-Rastrollo, M., Varo-Cenarruzabeitia, J. J., & Martínez-González, M. (1970, January 1). [PDF] physical Activity, SEDENTARY index, and mental disorders in the SUN cohort Study.: Semantic Scholar. undefined. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Physical-activity%2C-sedentary-index%2C-and-mental-in-S%C3%A1nchez-Villegas-Ara/b0869f0e2b071fe8063a180edcbd2decec7bdbae?p2df


[15] Zhai, L., Zhang, Y., & Zhang, D. (2015, June 1). Sedentary behaviour and the risk of depression: A meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/49/11/705


[16] Preidt, R. (2017, January 18). Too much sitting ages you faster. WebMD. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20170118/too-much-sitting-ages-you-faster


[17] Patel, A. V., Bernstein, L., Deka, A., Feigelson, H. S., Campbell, P. T., Gapstur, S. M., Colditz, G. A., & Thun, M. J. (2010, July 22). Leisure time spent sitting in relation to total mortality in a prospective cohort of us adults. OUP Academic. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/172/4/419/85345


[18] Melville, N. A. (2014, January 12). Sedentary behavior associated with higher mortality. Medscape. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/744006


[19] U.S. National Library of Medicine. (1970, January 1). Physical activity for health. Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK305049/


[20] Levine, J., & Yeager, S. (2009). Move a little, lose a lot. Amazon. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.amazon.com/Move-Little-Lose-Lot-T/dp/0307408558


[21] Exercise science & injury prevention. Dr. John Rusin – Exercise Science & Injury Prevention. (2021, August 10). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://drjohnrusin.com/


[22] 6 essential functional movements. Oxygen Mag. (2020, June 17). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.oxygenmag.com/training-tips-for-women/6-essential-functional-movements/


[23] How to use a standing desk correctly – full tutorial. ergonofis. (2020, June 26). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://ergonofis.com/blogs/news/how-to-use-my-sitstand-desk-correctly


[24] Leech, J. (2017, June 18). 6 tips to use a standing DESK CORRECTLY. Healthline. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-tips-for-using-a-standing-desk#TOC_TITLE_HDR_8


[25] Brachman A;Kamieniarz A;Michalska J;Pawłowski M;Słomka KJ;Juras G; (n.d.). Balance training programs in athletes – a systematic review. Journal of human kinetics. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28828077/

 

The Ultimate Guide to Gratitude, appreciation-bio-hacking tools, and the effects of focusing on the blessings in our lives on our health.

Repetitive negative thoughts can kill us. Slowly but surely. The mechanism by which a thought pattern can cut our healthspan short so effectively is that thoughts evoke emotions. And emotions directly effect production of hormones. When we focus more on the negative things in life, we suffer over exposure to the stress hormone Cortisol. This leads to high blood pressure, poor sleep patterns, harmful coping habits, like overeating, and a host of other issues that are all, at the end of the day, health related.

On the upside, if our thoughts can kill, they can also heal! Shifting our negative thought patterns to focus on the good things in our lives can counteract the damage. In this article, we’ll go over:

  • How we are biologically programmed with a negativity bias
  • How gratitude physically reprograms us for better health
  • Simple actions you can take today to extend your healthspan through gratitude

What is Negativity Bias?

Negativity bias is our natural, biological tendency to focus on negative factors around us. It is a survival mechanism that helped our ancient ancestors survive by anticipating danger before it happened. This survival mechanism required our ancestors to pay more attention to the bad things than the good things. They could afford for good things to come again later. However, if a threat caught them unaware, they might not live to try again [1].

In the modern-day, we do not have a saber tooth tiger lurking around the corner. Instead, we have a host of other uncertainties like the pandemic, novel viruses, toxic workplaces, uncertain economies, job instability, manipulative family members, divorce, heartbreak and other threats to our well-being. It often feels like we can not ‘unplug’ even for a moment or we will be caught unaware.

How Does Negativity Bias Affect Our Health?

maya elhalal healthspan hacking

Negativity bias creates stress and anxiety. Short, brief doses can be good for the body, as it encourages us to do something about the source of the stress. However, our modern society produces severe and chronic levels of stress.

Here are a few troubling statistics about how stress directly affects your health [2]:

  • In a study by Everyday Health, over 33% of the respondents reported going to the doctor for stress-related health issues.
  • 57% of respondents to another study reported they were paralyzed by stress.
  • Stress caused sleep deprivation in 66% of American workers in 2018.
  • Work-related stress causes 120,000 deaths yearly
  • Both women and men cope with stress through habits bad for our healthspan like drinking extra caffeine (37%), smoking (27%), overeating and snacking (46% women, 26% men), and illicit drugs (12% men and 2% women).

Why does stress cause health problems? 

Our bodies are made to use stress as a short-term boost to help us overcome a threat. Chronic stress, however, leads to a lot of wear and tear on our bodies in the form of high blood pressure, fat-building cortisol, and fatigue. We also tend to let our healthy habits falter as we seek to cope with that stress. As a result, our quality of life and eventually our healthspan suffers.

Our bodies are made to use stress as a short-term boost to help us overcome a threat. Chronic stress, however, leads to a lot of wear and tear on our bodies in the form of high blood pressure, fat-building cortisol, and fatigue. We also tend to let our healthy habits falter as we seek to cope with that stress. As a result, our quality of life and eventually our healthspan suffers.

Luckily, the biological effects of stress, anxiety, and negativity can be counteracted without drugs or expensive treatments. We can change our thought processes by focusing on the things in our life that we are grateful for.

How Does Practicing Gratitude Overcome Negativity Bias?

What is Gratitude?

Gratitude is actively expressing our appreciation for what we have. Rather than focus on the stressors and uncertainties in life, we acknowledge there are good things in the world. We also acknowledge the gifts and benefits we have received from other people, circumstances, and higher powers [3].

What Does Gratitude Look Like?

Just like stress has physical symptoms like headaches, tightness in the chest, and tension, gratitude can be consciously felt. 

Jing Lee, founder of @pacificpause describes it as “…warmth in the body, a sense of grounded-ness, a slowing of the breath, spaciousness in the chest and heart, uncontrollable tears or an automatic smile. I know when I am experiencing gratitude because it’s not just a concept in my head, I can feel it in my body. [4]”

How Does Gratitude Affect Health?

Breaking the stress of negative bias has profound effects on our healthspan:

  • Reduces stress and improves sleep quality, which helps build resilience [5][6][7][8].
  • People who regularly express gratitude have more grey brain matter [5]
  • Gratitude acts as a natural anti-depressant, and you can build the neural pathways to make the anti-depressive benefits permanent! [5][6][8]
  • Stops stress on the limbic system, which controls emotions, memory, and body functions. Activating the system with gratitude is reported to shorten recovery times and contribute to better feelings of well-being [5][7][8].
  • Gratitude releases dopamine, which helps regulate and reduce pain [5][6][8].
  • Gratitude dramatically reduces the stress hormone cortisol. This stress hormone is a big contributor to belly fat, high ‘bad’ cholesterol and blood pressure, and other health factors [5].

These are just the tip of the iceberg in how a change in how we view the world affects the condition of our health. 

Bio-Hacks to Practice Gratitude Today

Practicing gratitude is an easy and inexpensive way to improve your healthspan. Here are a few tips and practices to try today!

Be Patient With Yourself

Gratitude is a process. It will not work its magic all at once, and you will find yourself sliding into old negative thought patterns at first. Like any habit or a new skill, it will take time to master. Be kind to yourself when you find yourself stressing over the negative things in life. The last think you want is to add that to your list of stressors. Take a deep breath, acknowledge yourself for the awareness, and gently course correct. Gratitude is a muscle that builds overtime.

Try Out Journaling

For most people, journaling all the positive things you experience can help bring on a more positive bias thought pattern. It is more than listing out the good things though- you need to reflect on them and allow yourself to feel that appreciation and calm of having good things in your life. 

Try listing out five things you are happy to have in your life in the morning. Record good memories after an event. End the day with a brief letter to yourself about something good about the day. This will help your mind keep on the lookout for good things to write down and distract yourself from some of the negative.

Write a Letter of Gratitude

Sit down and write to someone who has contributed to your day (or life) in a positive way. You do not have to send it unless you want to. Just the act of writing out the letter will be enough to evoke positive thoughts and emotions.

Gratitude Visit

Going a step further from a letter, visit someone who has had a positive effect in your life to express your gratitude face to face. Maybe treat them to their favorite tea or reminisce about a moment that they made a huge impact on you. This activity fulfills both a focus on positives in life and a social need to be around positive and supportive people.

Find a Gratitude Buddy

It could be a spouse, child, friend, or companion online. The goal is to check in daily and spend a minute or two sharing positive news and things you are grateful for.

Take a Walk

Mixing the practice of observing the beautiful and positive parts of your surroundings with the endorphins produced with light walking, cycling, or wheelchair travel can significantly improve your mood and feelings of well-being.

Meditation/Gratitude Ritual

Take a few minutes of your day to focus on the good things you are grateful for. Find a distraction-free area, put your phone on silent, close your eyes, and just focus on the good things in your life.

Volunteer

Assist at a homeless center, a soup kitchen, a children’s hospital, or another good cause. Seeing the struggles of others and helping them in a small but meaningful way helps us put our own troubles and blessings into perspective!

An Attitude of Gratitude Extends Your Healthspan

Negative bias and the stress it produces is easy and inexpensive to counter. Live a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life by focusing on the things you are grateful for. The psychological and physical benefits will greatly improve your healthspan!


Citations

[1] Hanson, Rick, Ph.D. (2021). Taking in the Good vs. The Negativity Bias. Retrieved 5 September 2021, from https://www.sfsu.edu/~holistic/documents/Spring_2014/GoodvsNeg_Bias.pdf

[2] Heckman, W. (2021). 42 Worrying Workplace Stress Statistics – The American Institute of Stress. Retrieved 5 September 2021, from https://www.stress.org/42-worrying-workplace-stress-statistics-2

[3] Gratitude Definition | What Is Gratitude. (2021). Retrieved 6 September 2021, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/gratitude/definition

[4] Jing, L. (2021). What Gratitude Really Feels Like. Retrieved 6 September 2021, from https://thriveglobal.com/stories/what-gratitude-really-feels-like/

[5] The Neuroscience of Gratitude and How It Affects Anxiety & Grief. (2019). Retrieved 6 September 2021, from https://positivepsychology.com/neuroscience-of-gratitude/

[6] What Science Reveals About Gratitude’s Impact on the Brain – Mindful. (2019). Retrieved 9 September 2021, from https://www.mindful.org/what-the-brain-reveals-about-gratitude/

[7] Your brain on gratitude: How a neuroscientist used his research to heal from grief. (2021). Retrieved 9 September 2021, from https://whyy.org/segments/your-brain-on-gratitude-how-a-neuroscientist-used-his-research-to-heal-from-grief/

[8] Why Gratitude Is Good. (2021). Retrieved 9 September 2021, from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good

Can you remember who you were and how you felt a couple of decades ago? And, if so, can that information help you to reverse aging?

We often hear the phrase ‘act your age’ and interpret it to mean to stop acting like a child. Yet, research by distinguished Harvard Social Psychologist Ellen Langer has turned that notion on its head. Professor Langer is convinced that our thoughts have a lot to do with the ageing process. This has led her to focus her research efforts on unifying the mind and the body in order to reverse the aging process. This is in contrast to the conventional medical process of treating the mind and body separately.

Turning Back the Aging Clock

Professor Langer is the author of eleven books, the most famous of which is entitled CounterClockwise. In that book, she relates an experiment that she conducted in 1979. In the experiment, 16 men aged in their late 70s or early 80s, were taken to a retreat that was made to look exactly as it would have in 1959. Every detail, down to clothing and TV shows replicated that era. (1)

The men were also treated as if they were twenty years younger. They had to make their own beds, assist with dinner prep and carry their own bags. The men were divided into two groups, with the first being told to act as if they were actually living in 1959. The second group were told to reminisce about their past life.

The results of the study were very interesting. All of the men showed improvements in hearing, memory and vision. Yet, the men in the first group, who acted as if it were 1959, also improved their gait, manual dexterity, flexibility and even posture. Two thirds of them also improved their intelligence score.

It was also noticed that, even though most of the men had been largely reliant on others prior to arrival, they all managed to act independently when expected to do so. 

Professor Langer has conducted a number of follow up studies over the last few decades that have confirmed her findings that the way we think radically affects how we age. One of these has come to be known as the Chambermaid Study. In that study, hotel maids were taught to view their work as healthy exercise. This change in mindset led to the women reducing their Body Mass Index (BMI), lost weight and reduced their blood pressure. (2)

Ellen J Langer
Ellen J. Langer, Ph.D.
Professor of psychology, Harvard university and founder of langer mindfulness institute
Photo taken from www.familyactionnetwork.net

In another study, it was found that a person’s level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with aging was a determining factor in how long they lived. Study participants who had a positive view of aging lived an average of seven and a half years longer than those who did not.

Here is Professor Langer on the implications of her research . . .

Our attitudes, ideas, and beliefs are at least as important to health as our diets and our doctors. Our mindless decisions—our deference to doctors’ opinions, our willingness to accept diagnoses, even the way we talk about our illnesses—can have drastic effects on our physical well-being.

Ellan Langer

5 Key Healthspan Hacks

As a result of her life’s work, Professor Langer has some great heath hacks that we can all apply in order to improve our longevity and live more healthy, fruitful lives. Here are a five healthspan hacks that we should all put into practice:

  • Be aware of what is going on around us. Notice new things and be inquisitive about them.
  • Refuse to conform to an aging stereotype. Take inspiration from our superagers  [link to superagers articles] and break out of the box that society would love to confine you to.
  • Do not accept that getting older means getting weaker and sicker. Expect to be better each day. Commit yourself to healthy nutrition and regular exercise every day.
  • Do not allow yourself to be over helped by others. If you can carry your own bag, make your own bed and help out with the dinner, do so. Mollycoddling will make you older, whereas doing things for yourself will keep you young.
  • View yourself as a valued individual rather than a statistic or a number.

Summary

The way you think has a clear and direct impact upon the way you age, both physically and mentally. By thinking and acting younger, not accepting that you are over the hill and doing things for yourself, you will enhance your longevity and turn back the hands of time.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6615788/
  2. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17792517

Exciting anti-aging  research has been taking place under the umbrella of TAME (Targeting Aging With Metformin), a six year long series of clinical studies conducted at 1t laboratories across the US . . . In addition to controlling diabetes, Metformin has shown great promise in helping to reverse the effect of aging.

Is there a diabetes medication out there that can reverse aging? 

Type 2 Diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are dangerously elevated. It is often the result of obesity, lifestyle and genetic factors. This condition can lead to a number of serious health effects. It is, in fact, the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. In this article, we take a look at what causes diabetes and the warning signs. We’ll also identify what steps you can take to reverse the trends nd take a look at the latest research on Metformin, a diabetes medication which may help reverse aging. 

What Causes Diabetes?

Age – As we age the regenerative capacity of the pancreas slows down and it’s ability to make insulin declines. Despite the fact that an alarming number of people under 25 are developing the condition, most people who are diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes are aged between 55 and 60. (1)

* Family History – one in every three people with Type-2 diabetes has a close family member who also has the condition. 

* Race – We don’t quite know why, but people of certain ethnic origins, such as African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans, are more likely to develop Type-2 diabetes. 

* Pre-existing health conditions – High blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, impaired glucose tolerance along with heart disease and stroke all put you at higher risk of getting diabetes. 

* Viruses – Infections such as mumps, rubella, adenovirus, cytomegalovirus and coxsackievirus B can lead to the onset of Type-2 diabetes. 

* Bottle feeding – A number of recent studies have linked formula feeding with cow’s milk with Type-2 diabetes. Breastfeeding is highly recommended as is supplementing with vitamin D. 

* Liver or pancreatic disease – Any condition that impairs the ability of the pancreas and liver to do their job is going to make you more likely to become diabetic. 

There are some vital other factors that are major contributors to type-2 diabetes. These ones come under the category of lifestyle factors – they are things that we can control and make choices around. Here are the main avoidable risk factors: 

  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Diet
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking

Warning Signs for Diabetes

There are a number of warning signs for diabetes. These include:

  • Uncommon thirst and appetite
  • Excessive urination
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Irritation
  • Tingling of the extremities
  • Darkening of skin and possible skin infection

Pre-diabetes is a condition in which a person’s blood sugar levels are elevated. It is a precursor to diabetes. It is important for people who are at risk of developing diabetes to regularly have their blood sugar levels tested. 

The test that doctors use to assess blood sugar levels is called the A1C test. It is also known as the Haemoglobin A1C test and the HbA1C test. This test will provide you with an average of your blood glucose levels over the previous three months. (2)

The A1C test is a simple blood test that can be done in a doctor’s office or a lab. The following A1C test results provide a guideline as to your diabetes risk:

Normal: 5.7% or lower

Pre-Diabetes: 5.7-6.4%

Diabetes: 6.5% or higher

The key to preventing Type 2 Diabetes is to capture the trend in rising A1C levels before it gets into the pre-diabetes range. That requires getting a regular A1C test. If you are over the age of 45, we strongly recommend getting this done annually. 

Reversing the Diabetes Trend

Incorporating the following lifestyle habits into your routine will go a long way toward helping you manage your diabetes. 

  • Take a hot shower before going to bed: By doing so, you’ll be enhancing your circulation to such vital organs as the pancreas and kidneys. 
  • Exercise: Regular exercise, including strength training, will help to control blood sugar levels. It will even reduce the need for oral medications and insulin. (3)
  • Yoga: Many people have discovered that yoga, a mental, physical and spiritual discipline that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, can do wonders in keeping diabetes in check while improving the diabetics overall quality of life.
  • Drink a daily detox liver cleanser every day.
  • Drink 10 8-ounce glasses of mineral water every day 
  • Eat a nutritious meals, consisting of lean proteins, fibrous and starchy carbs and healthy fats. (4)
  • Eliminate sugars from your diet –  use healthy substitutes such as Erythritol sweetener and stevia.
  • Get 8 hours sleep every night 

In conjunction with these positive steps, you should also remove the following from your life:

  • Sugar 
  • Alcohol 
  • Tobacco 
  • Red meat 
  • Artificial sweeteners 
  • MSG 
  • White flour, pasta and rice 
  • Instant and processed foods 
  • Canned foods 
  • Fruit and vegetable juices 

The TAME Trials: Can Metformin Reverse Aging?

Exciting anti-aging  research has been taking place under the umbrella of TAME (Targeting Aging With Metformin), a six year long series of clinical studies conducted at 1t laboratories across the US. The trials are led by AFAR Scientific Director Nir Barzilai, MD. 

The trial focuses on the ability of the FDA approved diabetes treatment drug Metformin. In addition to controlling diabetes, Metformin has shown great promise in helping to reverse the effect of aging. A number of studies have already shown that Netformin can significantly delay aging in animals. The TAME trials will determine whether Metformin has the ability to influence metabolic and cellular processes associated with the development of age-related conditions. 

This is the first major study to provide proof of concept that aging is a condition that can be reversed! (5)

Dr. David Sinclair is a world leader in the filed of anti aging research. He has done a lot of research regarding taking Metformin as an anti-aging hack. Dr. Sinclair, who is  professor of genetics, advocates taking 1 gram of Metformin per day, broken up into a morning and evening dosage of 0.5 grams. (6)

Research

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279339/
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/managing-blood-sugar/a1c.html#:~:text=A%20normal%20A1C%20level%20is%20below%205.7%25%2C%20a,your%20risk%20is%20for%20developing%20type%202%20diabetes.
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11570119/
  4. https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2234
  5. https://www.afar.org/tame-trial#:~:text=Led%20by%20AFAR%20Scientific%20Director,disease%2C%20cancer%2C%20and%20dementia
  6. https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2019/02/anti-aging-researcher-david-sinclair-takes-metformin-nmn-nad-for-longevity.html

Did you know that there are 9 things (maybe 10) that are slowly killing you? For a long time, it was thought that there was nothing we could do about them, but healthspan hacking offers a way to fight back.

We’ve known since the dawn of mankind, that, as we get older, we also begin to slow down. But it wasn’t until 2013, that the specific mechanisms by which this takes place was quantified. In that year, a paper was published in the journal Cell under the title The Hallmarks of Aging. In that article, the 9 categories of molecular and cellular damage that occurs as we age were described. (1) 

Each of the nine hallmarks of aging come under the domain of the metabolism, which is the name we give to the conglomeration of biochemical reactions that keep us alive. The nine hallmarks can be divided into three categories:

  • Primary
  • Antagonistic
  • Integrative

It is believed that the three primary hallmarks are the triggers of biological aging. These hallmarks always have a negative impact. The antagonistic hallmarks are good for us so long as they are not excessive. The integrative hallmarks are the result of the damage caused by the previous two categories.

The 9 Hallmarks of Aging Defined

Genomic Instability

You can think of your genome as the blueprint of all the cells in your body. In each cell are all the instructions to make the protein that it requires. As we age, this vital information becomes unstable, which results in DNA damage, particularly in the cell’s mitochondria.

Telomere Attrition

Telomeres are a bit like the aglets on shoelaces. Their job is to protect our chromosomes from damage. When these telomeres disintegrate, the cell will stop functioning. Each time, cells divide, the telomeres get shorter. Telomere shortening has also been related to aging. 

Epigenetic Alterations

Your epigenome consists of a number of chemical changes to our DNA that act like switches. When the switch is on, the gene is expressed and a protein will be produced. When it is off, the protein will not be produced. Our epigenome changes over the course of our life. These changes can negatively affect our immunity and increase inflammation. 

Loss of Proteostasis

Proteostasis results from a series of cellular mechanisms to prevent damage from dysfunctional proteins. As we grow older, the ability to maintain proteostasis declines, which results in a buildup of broken proteins. This is believed to contribute to such age-related diseases Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction

The mitochondria in your cells produce ATP, which is the body’s main energy source. Mitochondria can be damaged in a number of ways, including mutation and oxidative damage. Damaged mitochondria will produce less ATP, resulting in reduced energy supplies. Mitochondrial damage is believed to accelerate with aging.

Cellular Senescence

When a cell becomes senescent it is no longer able to divide. These cells can be useful in wound healing but a build up of too many senescent cells is damaging to the body. Senescent cells also produce what are known as Senescence Associated Secretory Phenotype (SASP), which is thought to encourage other cells to become senescent. As we get older, the mechanisms that clear out senescent cells begin to falter.

Deregulated Nutrient Sensing

Our cells have the ability to sense when nutrients are close by in order for it to consume those nutrients. The insulin pathway, for example, tells our cells that there is an accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream. As we age, this nutrient sensing becomes less efficient, which could lead to deregulation. 

Stem Cell Exhaustion

Stem cells are the originators of all other other cells. Stem cells can become any type of cell, from a heart cell to a blood cell. As we age, stem cells are vital in replacing cells as needed. However, there is also an age related stem cell decline. 

Altered Intercellular Communication

There is evidence that aging affects the way that various systems in the body interact with one another. Aging interferes with intercellular communication in a number of ways. These include age related chronic inflammation. 

A Potential 10th Hallmark of Aging

Extracellular Matrix Stiffening

When protein molecules become fused together, crosslinking occurs. As these crosslinks become more abundant, the extracellular matrix that results stiffens. This has a negative impact on the functioning of the cells. This stiffening of the matrix is believed to increase as we age. (2)

How to Reverse the Hallmarks of Aging

From the above it may appear that the hallmarks of aging are inevitable and unstoppable. While it may be true that we cannot stop these hallmarks completely, a 2018 paper in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology details how exercise can positively impact all nine of the established hallmarks of aging. The paper showed that exercise makes significant improvements to our cells, and emphasizes the  . . .

positive anti aging impact of physical exercise at the cellular level, highlighting its specific role in attenuating the aging effects of each hallmark. Exercise should be seen as a polypill, which improves the health-related quality of life and functional capabilities while mitigating physiological changes and comorbidities associated with aging. (3)

The researchers recommend performing a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility movements with the following regularity:

  • Aerobic exercise – 5 days per week for 30-60 minutes daily
  • Strength training – 2 days per week; 8-10 exercises for 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions
  • Flexibility training – 2 days per week – static and dynamic stretches

References:

  1. https://www.cell.com/fulltext/S0092-8674(13)00645-4
  2. https://www.longevity.technology/evidence-for-tenth-hallmark-of-aging-increases-with-new-paper/
  3. https://estudogeral.sib.uc.pt/bitstream/10316/80903/1/Aging_Hallmarks_The_Benefits_of_Physical_Exercise.pdf

Your Heart Rate Variability could well be one of the most important measures of your health. Discover how to track it and what you need to do to improve it!

Most of us have been using our heart rate as a measure of our aerobic fitness level since we were kids. After a run at school we were taught to feel the pulse on our wrist. While this is, indeed, an important measure of our heart’s performance, it is not the only one, nor the most important. 

It turns out that monitoring the beat to beat variation and the time intervals between heart contractions provides a far more valuable window into what is going inside our body, possibly as important as our expected lifespan This biofeedback healthspan hacking measure is known as heart rate variability. (1)

In this article, we take a deep dive into heart rate variability. We’ll discover why it is such an important biofeedback marker, how it can be used to optimize physical and cognitive performance and what healthspan hacking techniques you can start using today to improve your heart rate variability.

The Ever Changing Heart Rate – And Why It Matters

Contrary to what many people believe, the heart rate does not follow a constant pattern like a metronome. The time between beats is constantly changing. It turns out those changes reveal an incredibly valuable message about our health. This fluctuation is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, which is made up of the parasympathetic and the sympathetic system. (2)

The sympathetic nervous system is also known as the fight or flight system. Its activation causes an immediate increase in the heart and respiratory rate as the body prepares to meet a stressful situation. This requires a lot of energy. 

The body then returns to a state of homeostasis by switching to parasympathetic dominance. This system promotes rest, digestion and wellbeing. Whether or not we are in sympathetic or parasympathetic dominance is controlled by the vagus nerve in the brain. 

The imbalance between sympathetic and parasympathetic activity has been recognized as a key indicator of both psychological and physical illness. The measure of heart rate variability has been shown to be the best window available into these opposing systems. Heart rate variability is a normal and desired outcome. However, the more stressed we are, the shorter the interval between heart beats. Conversely, the more relaxed and calm we are, the greater the intervals between beats and the higher the HRV. 

So, we can consider HRV to be a measure of the interplay between our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The higher the HRV reading, the more balanced that relationship is. From a healthspan hacking point of view, our goal is to increase our HRV in order to enhance the state of homeostasis that enhances our overall health. 

While it is certainly possible to improve your HRV measure, it should be noted that there are a number of factors that determine your heart beat intervals. Genetics plays a role, as does age and gender. So, rather than trying to achieve an arbitrary ideal HRV number, it is more advantageous to set the goal of improving your HRV in relation to your rolling baseline. This is the best practice for both physical and mental wellbeing. 

2 Hacks to Improve Your HRV

When you improve your HRV, your daily readiness to tackle life will be enhanced, your resting heart rate will go down and your body will better adapt to external stimulus. Here are two hacks you start incorporating today to enhance your HRV:

Cold Exposure

Cold exposure is a hermetic stressor that results in acute sympathetic arousal. This then brings on a parasympathetic state during recovery from the cold exposure. Immediately following the cold exposure you will experience a significant lowering of HRV. However, in order to get back to a state of homeostasis, this will be followed by a higher rate of HRV as you enter the parasympathetic state. (3)

Hot and cold contrast showers and cold plunges are effective methods of cold exposure. 

Better Quality and Quantity of Sleep

The better quality and quantity of sleep you get, the higher your HRV will be. That’s because the majority of your body’s repair, recuperation and recovery occurs while you are sleeping. It is also while you are asleep that your heart rate is at its lowest. A key aspect of healthspan hacking is providing the body with the optimal environment for these processes to occur(4) (5)

One key to achieving a good night’s sleep is maintaining an ideal bedroom temperature. That ideal temperature has been shown to be 65°F (18.3°C). This temperature best correlates with your body’s internal temperature throughout the night. 

Another consideration to enhance your sleep environment is to keep your bedroom as stimulus free as possible. This will help your mind and body to relax as it winds down for the evening. Keep all technology (including your phone) out of the bedroom. Try to make the room as dark and noise free as possible. 

3 More Ways to Improve your HRV

  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Minimize stimulant consumption

Summary

Heart Rate Variability is an essential marker of your body’s cognitive and mental health, as it provides a window into the interplay between your body’s competing stress and restore nervous systems.  In order to improve your HRV markers, use cold therapy and take active steps to improve your quality and quantity of sleep. Doing so will improve your health longevity, helping you to advance to a vibrant, energetic future. 

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17111118/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8458993/
  3. https://pubmed.Functional anatomy of the autonomic nervous systemncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18785356/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3427038/
  5.  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051115000447

In the first three instalments of this series put forward a compelling case for a total paradigm shift when it comes to again. By transform our approach from sick care to preventative healthcare, we may be able to realize more life in out years as we grow older. In this final instalment, we focus in on the potential health spanning effects of regenerative medicine.

The Promise of Regenerative Medicine

Time seems to take a particularly heavy toll on the eyes, even with the healthiest of super-agers. The main reason is age-related Macular Degeneration (dry AMD). Dry AMD occurs when the light-sensitive cells in the macula of the eye break down due to the death of a supporting cell type called retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE). Dry AMD impairs vision and it is the leading cause of blindness in people over age 60. 

There are currently no approved therapies for dry AMD. 

But, what if we could introduce the missing cells into the subretinal space? Would cells from an external source be able to halt the progress of AMD? 

Regulatory clearance from the FDA and the Israeli Ministry of Health was recently granted in order to initiate a clinical trial to see if this hypothesis is true.  OpRegen, one of the therapies offered by the Cell Cure – a subsidiary of the the publicly traded biotech company BioTime – is being developed in Jerusalem, by Benjamin Reubinoff, M.D., Ph.D. The Israeli Innovation Authority awarded in 2016 a grant of $2.2 million to help finance the development of OpRegen.  

OpRegen is just one example where regenerative medicine utilizes advances in stem cell biology, biologics, biomaterials, lab-generated cells to work wonders in the body. We’ve made incredible progress in medicine. The revolution of providing healthy cells and tissues to complement the regenerative capacity that the body loses due to an illness, or altogether replace a failing organ may offer a real cure, rather than merely treat the symptoms of a disease.   

What does this have to do with healthy longevity?

 We are born with a built-in capacity to repair tissues and organs to restore normal function. Through our lifespan, we experience changes in regenerative abilities, and during aging, numerous tissues exhibit a progressive decline in homeostasis that results in degeneration, malfunction and pathology. Making healthier personal lifestyle choices, the occasional fast, and other longevity practices may help slow down this process but it can’t altogether stop it. At some point cell senescence goes into higher gear and damage that we are no longer able to repair starts accumulating. This is where regenerative medicine could come in very handy. 

What  Next?

A person’s healthspan is the length of time that the person is healthy—not just alive. The term was officially added to Mirriam Webster Dictionary in March of 2016.

Now, let’s remember the idea of doubling longevity, mentioned in our first article. But this time, let’s separate between years added to life (extended lifespan) and healthy years added (healthspan). 

What do you think has been the most significant contributor to extending our healthy longevity over the last century and a half? Many believe it’s medicine but, surprisingly, it’s not. It’s hygiene and sanitation. So far, it is the ultimate healthspan technology. It has increased both lifespan and health at the same time, not by curing illness but by preventing it.

The 4 Ps of Future Health

Is it possible that we might, at some point in the future, reach a scientific breakthrough in understanding aging or invent another technology that will further extend both human longevity and health on a global scale? 

Interestingly enough, we may have already discovered or invented it. It may be applying insights from the Blue Zones to modern life, or a personalized diet based on nutrigenomics, the key could be preventative early detection based on DNA predisposition tests, or it may be regenerative stem cell therapy. 

Probably, it’s a mix often referred to as the 4Ps of the future of health: personalized, predictive, preventative and participatory. 

The sad reality is that we are not moving nearly fast enough to explore this direction in time to save more people from falling into the chronic illness trap. The focus of medical research and healthcare systems today is treating illnesses. Earlier this year at the Undoing Aging Conference this was recognized as one of the leading obstacles we face in closing the lifespan-healthspan gap. Undoing Aging, founded by Aubery De Grey of SENS Research Foundation, is a gathering of healthy longevity scientists, investigators and thought leaders to discuss the future of healthcare and how to accelerate rejuvenation therapies. 

Systemic Challenges

Take regenerative medicine. Today, to benefit from the regenerative medicine revolution you must first be diagnosed with an illness that is listed on the WHO International Classification of Diseases. We know that biological aging is the driving force behind multimorbidities of older age. But, biological aging is not classified as a disease. That means, we must first allow senescence to run havoc in the body before we can offer any intervention or therapy. 

In a similar way to the application of OpRegen to slow down Age-related Macular Degeneration, regenerative medicine may be applied to the systemic gradual degenerative process that occurs in the body as part of normal biological aging. But for now, we must allow aging to progress to a degree that symptoms are acute enough as to be classified as a disease before regenerative medicine can be offered. 

Maintaining full bodily and mental function as long as possible (and as close as possible to the end of life), should be our next gerontological goal. Right now, the main barrier is not scientific or technological, it’s that we practice “sick-care” rather than true healthcare. Much of the healthcare infrastructure, the training of physicians, and other health professionals, therapeutic processes and procedures, not to mention insurance, is geared to curing a contagious illness that derives from a single cause or treating an injury or an acute medical event like a stroke. 

The Challenge Ahead

A system-wide change of mindset, infrastructure, training and compensation is required if we are to address the chronic illnesses that are today’s health reality. We must shift from putting out symptomatic fires to prevention, to systemic investigation and getting to the root causes of illness, and to regeneration.  

Hygiene and sanitation have given us the first doubling of healthspan through disease prevention. Personalized, predictive, preventative and participatory healthcare may give us the second healthspan breakthrough, but only if we apply it early enough in life. The health outcome we need to start measuring is age related disease prevention. Aiming towards lengthening healthspan may be imminent, but only if we first let go of the idea that ill health in old age is an inevitable part of life.

For Part Three: Is Living a Long Healthy Life Luck of the Draw? CLICK HERE

For Part One: Is Living a Long Healthy Life Luck of the Draw? CLICK HERE