Healthy Living: How To Live Longer
The more science advances, the more studies come out that provide a disappointing narrative; that your health and longevity is predetermined by your DNA and your Mother’s behavior during pregnancy, two things that rest completely out of your control.
And while these two aspects of health do make up a large component of your chances at increased vitality, don’t just give up and see what your genes have in store for you.
There are always things you can do to exercise your own level of control over your health situation.
What A Mother Can Do to Her Unborn Child
A mother who participates in alcohol-consumption while pregnant, regardless of the amount, could give her unborn child something called Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Foetal Alcohol Syndrome affects each child differently, but generally causes some form of brain damage, including severe learning disabilities and social awkwardness, as well as physical defects.
The results of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome are irreversible.
Smoking while pregnant is, if possible, worse than drinking. Smoking increases the risk of premature birth, birth defects, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Additionally, as the fetus absorbs a portion of whatever enters the mother’s body, smoking, as well as dieting, is incredibly instrumental in the formation of a healthy child.
A mother’s diet has the potential to cause a shift in her child’s DNA; if the mother eats a large quantity of junk food, she can increase her baby’s risk of diabetes and obesity, by altering the DNA.
Related to this strong mother-child bond during pregnancy, any stress the mother feels can potentially translate to long term stress in the child.
The odds of the child being unable to handle stress in a healthy manner later in life, increase if the mother felt incredible amounts of stress and anxiety during pregnancy.
The Importance of Youth
The lifestyle you have as a child, as well as the type of childhood you have, have powerful long-term effects.
In general, happiness is linked to longevity and overall health. People who are comfortable in who they are, people who are able to find happiness in all situations, and people who laugh often, are at a heavily reduced risk of stroke, heart disease, depression, anxiety, and, among other things, early death.
This effect is even more profound when it is practiced at a young age. The state of your childhood reaches into adulthood. The quality of your childhood provides an explanation for a multitude of behaviors, ticks, and diseases.
Research defends the impact of a happy childhood as something that boosts vitality. Happy people live longer. The greater part of your life you are able to spend smiling and laughing, the greater your odds are of increased longevity.
It’s also important to spend time in the sunshine. Not only could playing outside help build a healthy and happy child, being outside also increases your levels of vitamin D, something that nearly 25% of children are deficient in.
Vitamin D helps with bone strength and calcium absorption and is an essential aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Being outside, laughing outside, and playing outside, all have numerous benefits; you’ll feel these benefits for years to come.
Working out might often seem like a chore, but the reality that awaits your time in the gym is a happier, healthier life. Exercise has powerful links to improved quality of sleep, as well as boosted mental health.
Research has established links between a reduction in the risk of depression, stress, anxiety, and exercise.
Lifting weights is also one of the best things you can do to build bone strength, which can prevent or hold off the advent of osteoporosis, something that generally begins to become a concern when you reach your thirties.
Weight training, as well as diets rich in calcium and vitamin D, are great ways to protect and build bone strength.
Exercise also results in a stronger cardiovascular system, which reduces your risk of heart disease. Your risks of obesity and diabetes also shrink if you work out consistently.
It might be tough to get yourself to a gym, but your body and your mind will thank you.
You may know from personal experience a general increase in happiness when you’re with your close friends or loved ones.
It’s a good feeling. So good, in fact, that strong social relationships can actually increase your lifespan.
People who are socially isolated, and are therefore lonely, are at a higher risk of an early death. This is especially notable amongst elderly communities. Loneliness kills.
Happily married people are also proven to live longer than those who remain single.
This is thought to be because in a healthy marriage, one is never alone; strong support networks come built into the family that you create when you say “I do.”
The links between a healthy diet and a healthier body are strong and well established. The links between gut-health and overall health are also firmly established.
Excuse the cliche, but if you’ve ever heard the saying “you are what you eat,” it’s actually based in some truth. People who eat healthier are healthier, and those who eat unhealthy, are less healthy than they could be.
There are a few general guidelines to healthy eating. These mainly involve no smoking, less drinking, and a massive decrease in your consumption of sugary processed foods.
Processed foods, or ’junk food’, is devoid of nutritional value, and loaded instead with high fat and sugar content. Sugar is an inflammatory; consuming too much sugar can exacerbate certain symptoms of diseases like arthritis.
Sugar also has similar effects on your body as heavy alcohol consumption, specifically in your liver.
By replacing junk food with whole, healthy foods, you’re giving your body better fuel to run on.
Just like with a car, the better fuel you put in, the better performance you’ll get. The better foods you eat, the better you’ll feel, and the longer your engine will be running.
DNA makes up who and what we are. Commonly visualized as a twisting, spiraling ladder, DNA carries all the information that builds are cells, resulting in hair color, body size, diseases, risk of diseases, etc.
There is some evidence that everything we do, every action we take, every word we say, is all thanks to our DNA; we were hardwired to be who we are.
Whether or not that is true, the truth in the power of DNA is incontrovertible.
There is a part of our DNA called a Telomere, which resides at the tips of chromosomes and acts as a DNA shield. Every time our cells divide, the Telomeres grow shorter.
When they run down completely, the cells die, which is how we age. Studies have linked longer Telomeres with longer life.
The Key Takeaway
But we can’t control the DNA we have, so it’s best not to worry about it. The only thing we can do is to elect to live a healthy lifestyle.
That means eating right, especially during pregnancy.
That means exercise, and laughter, and happiness.
And even if these methods don’t help you to hit triple digits, they will definitely improve your quality of life. And, well, we’re not here forever, we might as well be happy while we’re here.
I’m a personal trainer based in Denver (Matrix Gym) and a true fitness nerd. If I’m not training clients or working out at my home gym, I’m probably skiing, cycling or hiking with my dog Rufus.