In this video interview David Williams from My Longevity talks about some of the insights he found when researching what benefits us in later life.
What are some insights from the research on life expectancy?
When we look at the five areas that seem to influence the rest of our life – surroundings, we’ll talk about the social consequences. Health well, yes. Talk to your doctor, look at exercising, do those things. That’s pretty expected.
Attitude was surprising, but I think attitude comes from being well prepared and understanding about things. You feel positive about ageing, if you know where it’s going.
The social things matter. The attitudinal questions, that area of attitude. There’s a lovely report that showed that people who had a positive attitude to ageing as measured by five questions were living several years longer than people who didn’t.
That’s a bit of an indicator, isn’t it, about the way we approach it and I was quite excited about that because what we want for this work that we’ve done is that people get more ownership of themselves, that they understand who and what they are so they can make informed decisions about ageing and not just be carried along with the tide.
I think we’re far too ignorant about it and it’s affecting our decisions and particularly making us more defensive about ourselves than I believe we really should be.
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Parents – do the research on your gene pool through your intimates and those things. They’re probably important, but not perhaps as day to day.
Eating was one where we’ve had probably as much discussion as anything, because we say eating’s everything you put in and that includes smoking. Well, smoking is obvious. I don’t have to go with that.
But in terms of diet, there’s been a lot of things about using diet to improve the immune system of your body. I think it’s still not early stages, it seems as if there’s something in it that diet does affect, not only just how well you live day to day, but your preparedness of your immune system in your body and we’re still really at a tiny tot stage of understanding how the immune system and the brain work.
Well that’s a bit of a challenge but keep watching this space. There’s good stuff being published and we will get better ideas.
The weight guidelines are pretty good. From my research, I keep coming across the Mediterranean diet as an important starting point for the way you eat. There’s no one Mediterranean diet but if you want to start anywhere, it’s a good way of getting a sense of the balance of things you need. The foods and fruits and the way you prepare them seems to be a good starting point. But people don’t all do the same thing.
Quite clearly, I mean I was just the other day I was reading about all this business about the probiotics and the biotics in our gut and all that stuff and I think, gosh.
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But the remarkable thing is how much different we are. They’ll go to 20 healthy people, they’ll find whole different sets of bacteria in their gut and the bacteria sort of work it out a bit. They’ll get on with each other and your body knows what it gets on with.
So it’s not as if there’s any magic formula. There simply isn’t, not that I can see or that I’ve ever seen published.
What is happening though is that there’s some clear signs that we don’t keep on getting older, living longer as a community. It started to peak out a bit and once you get to sort of 85 or 90, then it’s still pretty special to get into the space beyond in good shape.
And that’s largely because we’re keeping people alive for a lot longer. Our medical processes are terrific and we learn about exercise and do all the right things, and that seems to be pretty good.
But what we start to run into, the nervous system constraints if you like. Dementia is one, Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron disease. These are all diseases of the sort of brain function and nervous system and they’re far more difficult to deal with.
We’re making marvellous progress, but it seems as if from the census data that we kind of all, we’re getting more and more people getting past 80 and into the mid and late 80s, but that’s where we start to see these other challenges emerge.
All I can say is, with that in mind, it’s best to make the best of the time you’ve got and you can push your way up into pretty good old age and enjoy it. But think about what will happen, what might happen towards the end and prepare for it in all the ways we’ve talked about.
Don’t just sort of, I’ll deal with when I come to them, because you might be the one that has to deal with it. You might be out of the loop. So it is important to realise that there’s no perfect answer, but certainly diet, exercise, keeping your brain sharp all really important. Any amount of evidence that they’re all good for you.
David Williams is the founder of MyLongevity, which helps you answer questions such as ‘how long could I live?’, ‘what can I do about it?’ and ‘what will be my quality of life?’. Click here to take a free SHAPE analysis.
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