Eric Barker, is the author of my fave blog, “Barking Up the Wrong Tree”, where he provides insightful, funny, and science-backed tips on how to lead a better life. The following is are some excerpts that are too good not to share. Enjoy!
How To Cut Down The Aging Process and Have an Awesome Life
For most of human existence, the average lifespan was an average of 30-35 years of life – due to lack of healthcare. In the 19th century, with better hygiene, new sewers, vaccines, and improved nutrition, literally, billions of lives were saved.
Thanks to science, things are so much better for us. Life expectancy is over 60 for 99% of countries on the planet. While we’ve increased longevity, we still have a way to go with how we treat aging directly. Right now, it’s a Whac-A-Mole medicine – we are addressing the symptoms, but not the underlying problem of aging. Many scientists now believe aging is the real disease. Cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s are all just symptoms.
Based on present research, here are some science-based truths on how to have a long awesome life
(Warning: Some of these science-based truths may be difficult to hear. I am only the messenger!)
Fountain of Youth 101
A new term to consider: Our body’s “repair circuit”
When we are flush with cash, we tend to spend. When times are tight, we conserve to extend our financial longevity. Our body is no different. We need to stress our bodies a bit to activate that repair circuit.
Aging is caused by DNA damage. We have literally trillions of breaks in our cellular DNA every day. That’s impossible to avoid. We wouldn’t be around very long if your body didn’t divert energy to repair this damage. Luckily, we have a DNA “repair circuit.”
Here’s the problem: Our body always has to choose between reproduction and repair– the construction crew or the cleaning crew.
The central concept here is our “mTOR” – the master driver of cell growth. When our mTOR is active it’s time to grow; when it’s turned off it’s time to repair. In other words, our bodies cannot clean up the mess when the party is raging. It can only clean up when the party is over.
Per Eric’s research, the following tips are helpful for managing our body’s internal “party clean-up committee” and achieving a longer, more harmonious life.
✅Eat Less Often
You don’t need to starve yourself. Limiting your food intake to 8 hours a day is probably the most comfortable way to get notable results.
Calorie restriction (without malnutrition) extends life in almost every organism studied. There are over 80 years of data to back this up. And it doesn’t just make us live longer, it also makes us live younger, increasing health markers across the board.
You may be wondering: If I exercise a ton, can I still eat a lot and live longer? Nope…Rats given high calories and high exercise saw minimal longevity benefits. Some level of hunger seems necessary to stress the mTOR system. Hunger plus exercise works great, however. (Darn!)
According to David Sinclair, a Harvard professor and author of Lifespan: “Exercise turns on the genes to make us young again at a cellular level.” And the results are dramatic.
One recent study found that those who ran four to five miles a week (which is equal to one 55 min Mojo class!) —can reduce their chance of death from a heart attack by 40 percent and all-cause mortality by 45 percent. Even walking often and briskly has been seen to have notable effects.
✅ Live Like You’re Young “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”
From “Better with Age”, by Alan Castle…Research has shown that subjective age (how old you feel), not your actual age, is in fact a better predictor of your overall health, memory abilities, physical strength, and longevity.
In 1979, Ellen Langer took a bunch of men in their 70’s and 80’s and put them in a hotel that was dressed up to look like it was the 1950’s, the period when they were middle-aged. She told them to live like they were young again. What happened? It was like “The Selfie of Dorian Gray.”
…significant improvements in hearing, memory, strength, and scores on some intelligence tests. The group told to behave like they were 20 years younger also showed better dexterity and flexibility and even looked younger, according to outside observers who judged photos of the participants taken before and after the retreat.
So, to a degree, living like you’re younger can help keep you younger (Mojo anyone?)
✅Get Social – Ditch the jerks and spend more time with those you love.
People who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community, are happier, healthier, and live longer…
Relationships are vital – but not all of them. Laura Carstensen, founding director of Stanford’s Center on Longevity, has noted that bad relationships are more harmful than good ones that are positive.
“The only thing that really matters in life is your relationships with other people.”
Last thoughts per Eric:
Research shows that the attitudes one holds about aging are related to how well one actually ages—even when these attitudes are assessed years before one enters old age.
Life’s better when you stop waiting for the future to make you happy. When your mood isn’t dependent on external circumstances. When you find happiness and fulfillment in the imperfect now
Translation: Don’t wait 80 years to learn how valuable the simple things are, like a sunset or gathering with friends on the back porch.