Hitting triple digits. Now there's an ambition.
Earlier this decade several white-jacketed Harvard scientists took a number of 100+ subjects under their watch to find out what helped them last the distance. Let's revisit their discoveries.
Dos and dont's
- Don't smoke or drink heavily Gain little or no weight during adulthood. Being overweight increases the risk of life-threatening illness Don't overeat; consume fewer calories from fat Eat lots of fruits and vegetables Get regular exercise – especially strength-building activities Challenge your mind with stimulating mental activity Have a positive outlook on life and keep tabs on stress levels Be friendly and maintain close ties with family and friends. Positive relationships are associated with lower rates of heart disease
In a nutsell: don't smoke, keep trim, get exercise, manage stress and avoid social isolation.
All in the genes?
Studies into longevity have found that there is a strong genetic influence: long life does seem to run in the family. But genes are not the whole story.
Public health advances like sanitation have improved the odds, as has modern medicine. Most centenarians still die from heart disease, but they may have died much sooner without medical intervention.
Diet and other health habits also play a role. Italian researchers reported that healthy centenarians had exceptionally high blood levels of vitamin A and E compared with healthy younger adults. They surmised that vitamin-rich blood may both strengthen the immune system of these centenarians and defend them against oxidative damage caused by free radicals, thought to be a leading cause of ageing.