12 Ways To Increase Your Healthspan, Starting Now
People often say they don’t want to get old, but what they mean is that they don’t want to become feeble. Longevity isn’t what’s coveted — healthspan is. We all want to live long if we can be healthy as well. Here are 12 ways to do it.
THE NEW YEAR is upon us. There’s no better time to collect our thoughts and prepare to hit the ground running in 2016.
That’s precisely why I sent out the “1-Minute Survey” to Subscribers, and even put it in the sidebar of this blog so it’s easily accessible to you. Within the realm of health – body and mind – I wanted to stir up some thinking about what you want to bring into your life next year.
Much of what I write about focuses on age intervention. A less pithy expression is that the many pages on this site are devoted to presenting the best practices for reducing the chronic diseases and conditions that are inevitably experienced by most people as they age.
The objective here is to increase our heathspan. “Healthspan” refers to the number of years over which we can remain healthy. Walking up hills when we’re 90 is what we want, instead of drooling on ourselves in an assisted-living facility.
The earlier you start adopting the lifestyle habits associated with age intervention, the higher the probability that your healthspan will be much longer than average, irrespective of your genetics.
That said, the body and mind are remarkably resilient and can respond favorably at any age to certain inputs and protocols known to improve our quality of life. The difficulty in making this happen is not that we don’t know what to do, but that we don’t do what needs doing.
We’re creatures of habit, and many habits will not produce long, hale lives. What we need to do is to build those habits that will improve and sustain our health and vitality, because without that, nothing else matters much.
So,what are you willing to do?
Last week, I sent Subscribers a “1-Minute Survey” that asked them to choose one of 12 age intervention actions they want so much that they’d be willing to work at accomplishing it if they knew what to do.
Each of these 12 choices has been cultivated from research studies and practices that demonstrate their effectiveness at contributing to living a long and strong life.
- The 12 building blocks needed to construct the life you want,
- What so far is most important to survey respondents; and
- How you can weigh in and influence the outcome of what we do here so that you can benefit.
Let’s start with the last first…
Your Choice Matters
For more than a year, I’ve been chipping away at writing a book to explain the “12 biohacks” that you can do to live longer with good health and vitality.
What I want now is to know is what you’re willing to do. Which of the 12 are of sufficient interest to you that you’d be willing to do the work to make it habitual, and then experience the benefits?
It will take you a minute to let me know, and then I can make sure that my book has the emphasis you desire.
The first edition of the book, by the way, will be free to anyone on the List prior to its release.Take The 1-Minute Survey
OK, now that you know how you can get involved (take the survey) and benefit (the book), let’s examine the 12 building blocks, aka “biohacks”.
The Big 12
I alternatively refer to these as “building block” or “biohacks” because they’re both. They are building blocks because you use them to construct an entirely new life from the perspective of body and mind. And they are biohacks because they can be distilled down to, at first, simple techniques (“hacks”) that engage your biology (“bio”) that start you on a new path.
I roll these 12 (three each) into Four Pillars:
- Fuel, and
You build the Mindset Pillar by:
1. Creating your day with intention via a daily morning gratitude practice.
You’ll learn how fast and effectively you can improve your experience of each day, reduce stress and get connected with your life’s purpose.
2. Building tiny habits that grow into big, life altering habits.
There are three articles to jump-start this biohack:
Read any one of them to get an appreciation for the value of setting aside some time each day plan and work your plan in order to achieve what you want.
3. Developing a mindfulness/meditation practice.
This chapter is Biohack #3: Meditate Like A Monk In 20 Minutes and is close to its final draft form. It explores how two brain entrainment technologies — isochronic tones and binaural beats – can help you meditate like a monk in 20 minutes. Learn why having a meditation practice is about the healthiest thing you can do for your body and mind right here.
You build the Reset Pillar by:
4. Doing a detox cleanse at regular intervals.
Could be that you’ve done it a hundred times, but there’s a few things you need to know about detox cleanses that you don’t. Learn about the three glutathione detox pathways, and how to activate them – among many other things – in What You Absolutely Must Know About Detox Cleanses (But Don’t).
5. Cultivating healthy gut bacteria (microbiota).
The science on this is relatively new, and it’s demonstrating that the estimated 100 trillion bacterium in us profoundly influence our health in numerous ways, including our immune system, body composition (fat or thin) and mental health.
The chapter on this topic is not ready to share, but I’ve written quite a bit about this on the blog. I suggest you go to the archive for this category (“Microbiota)”, and explore.
You can also get your own microbiome tested by a company called uBiome, which I write about here. Update: uBiome is now out of business.
6. Balancing your hormones.
In our mid-twenties, human growth hormone begins to decline. Men in their forties face a decline in testosterone and increase in estrogen, and women often experience an imbalance between testosterone, estrogen and progesterone once menopause happens.
In addition to these, hormones associated with signaling hunger satiation (leptin), maintaining metabolism (thyroid), regulating blood sugar (insulin) and moderating the stress response (cortisol) often become compromised as we age.
Because testosterone imbalances are common to both genders as people age, I focus chapter six on it, which is called Biohack #6: How to Boost Your Testosterone Naturally and Fast.
You build the Fuel Pillar by:
7. Making food your medicine.
In order for food (and drink) to, in effect, be your medicine, it has to be the right nutrition delivered by the right diet for you.
Because of some recent advances in tests that can genetically determine your ideal diet, I’m going to be re-writing the chapter on food as medicine. But you can learn a lot by reading what’s already written in Biohack #7: Tweak Your Paleo Diet To Increase Longevity and Bend the Age Curve.
You’ve head of the Paleo Diet. It seems to go hand-in-hand with Crossfit, and other vigorous exercise programs. The downside is that the Paleo Diet is big on meat, and nutritionists like Dr. Michael Gregor will happily show you hundreds of research studies that show meat eating and longevity are at odds.
In Biohack #7, I show how to balance things in a meat-eaters diet so that they can “bend the age curve” and push out healthspan.
If you rather watch than read, the aforementioned Dr. Gregor tells us about food as medicine right here:
I hope you watched that video.
If not, do yourself a favor and watch it… particularly if you have children at home.
8. Age-defying superfood boosters
Once you’ve dialed in the right diet to provide the necessary nutrition, energy and body composition, the next step is to select specific superfoods to support and/or boost any health deficits that might exist do to any chronic condition.
For instance, if you have plaque in your arteries, you could make sure you consume regular helpings of garlic, pomegranate, turmeric, salmon and these six other foods.
Likewise, if you’re…
- Overweight, you might drink maca green tea every day. (It does all this for these 9 reasons.);
- Stressed, you might consume pistachios, blueberries, fermented foods, among these seven others;
- Pre-diabetic, you might eat fenugreek, cinnamon, cilantro, chia seeds, spirulina and many more covered in “Supercharing Your Blood”.
Chapter 8 on superfood biohacking is pretty much done. It’s called Biohack #8: Get More Sex and A Longer Life by Supercharging Your Blood, Part 1.
If you’ve got high blood sugar, don’t miss it.
9. Supplements tailored for you.
Supplements round out your nutrition and superfood intake. Their value is their convenience, targeting and amplification.
A good example is protein powder. As we age, muscles atrophy unless they’re routinely exercised (the catabolic phase) and fed protein (the anabolic phase). If you’re always “on the run”, you want to avoid protein sources of poor quality, like a McDonald’s burger. That problem can be solved by always having a good quality protein supplement at hand.
A good way to go about choosing supplements is to select a basic multi-vitamin/mineral and then add what you’re most deficient in, which takes a good assessment, typically by a blood or saliva test.
For instance, if you have a family history of colon cancer or think you might systemic inflammation (a common byproduct of aging), there are two powerful botanical supplements to consider, Curcumin and Boswellia.
Experiencing some brain fog or premature wrinkling? Well then, check out Phosphatidylcholine, a favorite of superbrain and Google wunderkund, Ray Kuzweil.
Go check out this site’s supplement page and wig out on all the stuff I’ve tried over the years, just to get a whiff of what’s available.
You can also read:
You build the Move Pillar by:
10. Becoming more mobile by increasing joint articulation.
It might be hard for you to remember how you used to move back in the day when you actually could fit in the bathtub, but just look around, find a child and watch him or her a bit.
They can squat so their heels touch their heels and hang out there for an hour. They can sit in the lotus without cringing. They can do the Stand/Sit Test.
Confession: I cannot yet do the Stand/Sit Test. I’m practicing it, and shall get it done someday, because it’s a predictor of lifespan, and is a great indicator of overall mobility.
Can you do the Stand/Sit Test?
It’s one of three ways to predict lifespan, so go check it out:
Most of you will be humbled. If that’s the case, go check out some mobility exercises: The Functionally Fit Fast Workout – Warm Up and Mobility.
11. Cardiovascular strength through aerobic and anaerobic conditioning.
The new science on this has upended what we thought we knew was true.
We used to think that aerobic exercise in the so-called “fat burn zone” — the pace where you can talk without getting winded — was the best way to lose weight and develop endurance.
Lately, the thinking is that unless you’re training to do a marathon, it’s best to mix in a lot of anaerobic conditioning in your cardiovascular workouts. This would mean high intensity interval training, where you do bursts of activity anywhere from 10 seconds to two minutes, give or take. Of course, you’d repeat this a few times before hanging up the cleats.
To get you warmed up to this idea, read:
12. Get lean and muscular by training for functional strength.
A person who can lift a few hundred pounds of his chest (ladies, it’s usually a guy who can do this, or would want to!) is considered strong, but how does this particular feat of strength translate into function?
I mean, can he sprint up a few flights of stairs carrying groceries, or do 10 chin-ups, or hold himself in a plank position (testing his core) for two minutes?
When it comes to living a long and strong life, the thing you need to be able to do is move your own body through time and space, not perform Herculean feats of strength in unrealistic settings.
Your legs should be able to easily lift you up and down from a deep squat for many repetitions; your arms should be able to push your body off the floor and lift it up, just in case you someday find yourself dangling from the edge of a five-story building. 😉
If you’re 50, 60, 70, 80, or more and think that this is ridiculous, that this is impossible for your age, then you need to meet the Four Masters You Defy Age and Prove That You Can Too!.
Yes, that would be Charles Eugster (95), Phyllis Sues (90), Ernestine Shepard (78) and Sam Bright (70).
To get you started, check out:
Now to the survey results…
What Subscribers Say Is Most Important
As I write this, 40 people have taken the 1-Minute Survey, and selected which of the 12 building blocks needed to construct a long and strong life are most important to them.
Would you take (literally) a minute and answer that question for the both of us?
If you do, you will learn what’s most important to you, and I will learn what I need to do to provide you with a protocol to achieve it.
So far, the pie chart below indicates that most people are interested in the biohacks associated with Pillar 1, Mindset:
20% selected “I want to live my life guided by focused intention.”
15% selected “I want to learn to build new, empowering lifestyle habits.”
3% selected “I want to develop a mindfulness/meditation practice.”
Hence, 38% of respondents’ choose Mindset attributes that are both most important to them, and that they’d be willing to work on.
This is great, simply because in order to build any of the other Pillars requires the right Mindset. Everything is first conceived in the mind. The better your mind is honed and oriented to the task at hand, the surer the desired result.
Breaking out the attributes of the other Pillars, people who took the survey indicated the following…
5% selected “I want to do a detox/cleansing program.”
8% selected “I want to improve my gut health and immune system.”
3% selected “I want to optimize my hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen.”
8% selected “I want to know the best genetically determined diet for me.”
5% selected “I want to add proven superfoods to my diet.”
3% selected “I want discover the best nutritional supplements for me.”
13% selected “I want the mobility of a child, with full articulation of my joints.”
0% selected “I want to improve my aerobic and anaerobic conditioning.”
10% selected “I want to become leaner and more muscular.”
There was a 13th choice in the survey called, “Other”, where someone can write in whatever they want, and 13% chose it. Those responses were mostly associated with how someone looks, such as:
“I want my breasts to be “2” higher”, and
“I want to get rid of my forehead wrinkles”.
How about you?
What do you want?
Take the 1-Minute Survey and I’ll make sure that my forthcoming book — free to those on the List before release — will find out just how to make their wishes come true.