Secrets to Longevity: Just Good Genetics?

Are there really secrets to longevity? Skepticism aside, it makes some sense that certain populations would live longer than others. The answers may reside in these communities, says Dr. James Goodwin, director of the Sealy Center on Aging at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Studies of Centerian populations (people over 100 years old) show definite locations around which their tend to be many.

Statistics will tell you that country folks live longer than city folks, married couples live longer than their single counterparts, women are three to five times more likely than men to reach 100 years, children of Centarians are more likely to become Centarians and Centrians whose mothers were younger than 25 when they gave birth outpace everyone else 4 to 1.

Dr. David Sinclair Discusses the Secret to Longevity

Could Excercise be the Secret?

Research suggests that regular exercise can help prevent or delay a laundry list of diseases, including heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes and even Alzheimer's. Most people lose 22% of their muscle mass by age 70, a process that leaves them prone to deadly falls.

Stories about Centarians that still walk 6 miles per day, or run the 100 yd dash or chop wood everyday are almost commonplace. In Sardinia, Italy a group of Centenarians walk a minimum of six miles a day, by 10 a.m., then pastu sheep, cut wood, trimmed olive trees and feed cows.

In other words, they incorporated activity into their daily routines. Along those lines, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in March showed that maintaining aerobic fitness through middle age could, alone, delay biological aging by 12 years.

One of the Secrets to Longevity?

Is Red Wine the Secret to Longevity?

In a study that tracked 2,468 men starting in 1974 to a resulting 1,369 men in the year 2,000 - scientists hoped to determine if alcohol consumption is related to both the quality--as well as the length--of life.

"Preference of wine was associated with decreased mortality when compared with preference for beer or spirits over a follow-up of 29 years," the scientists reported. Wine drinkers had a 34 percent lower rate of mortality. Wine drinkers were also in better health at the end of the study and had performed better on mental health tests.

While the alcohol in wine, beer and spirits is good for your health in moderation, it is the chemical composition of wine that really makes wine the winner. The leading antioxidant in wine, resveratrol, has been shown to increase longevity in mice and rats - without necessitating drinking wine.

Perhaps it is the resveratrol in wine, not the alcohol, that is this secret to longevity.

"“I ain’t got time to die, I don’t know how it happened, but being cheerful had a lot to do with it. I’ve always been a happy person, a giggling person — a wide-mouthed person!” - 106 Year Old Ann Nixon Cooper

"The secret of longevity is bacon. Sure exercise helps, but do the stuff that makes you happy. For me, it's eating bacon".

"I took up distance running when I was 65" - 101 year old Waldo McBurney after competing in the 100 yard dash, when asked if exercise is one of the secrets to longevity.

Caloric Restriction Could be the Secret to Longevity

Caloric restriction, which is the practice of eating healthy but very few calories, has been shown to extend both the maximal and average life spans of worms, insects and mice.

Okinawa, Japan, is a longevity hot spot with one of the highest concentrations of centenarians. One of their traditional sayings is “hara hachi bu,” or eat until you are 80% full.

secrets to longevity

While scientists have known for decades that animals can live longer when they eat less, researchers are just beginning to determine the extent of the impact caloric restriction can have on humans.

Recently researchers have determined that Resveratrol, the antioxidant that makes wine healthy, actually "tricks" the body and triggers the "caloric restriction" gene that extends life. While the studies on worms, mice and insects have proved very successful in the laboratory - it is only now that resveratrol supplements are available to humans.

Of all the secrets to longevity, perhaps Resveratrol is the answer.

(the Resveratrol Mice Study about calorie restriction can be found here.)
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