Have you ever felt bombarded by all those advertisements for magical potions promising a longer and better life?
Lately, that’s been my experience. It made me curious, prompting me to dive deeper into the subject of aging and how we can make the most out of our lives as we grow older.
During my research, I stumbled upon the remarkable work of Dr. Peter Attia, an extraordinary physician and a leading expert in longevity. His recently published book, “Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity,” has completely revolutionized my understanding of what it means to live a healthier, longer life.
Attia draws upon the latest scientific research to present innovative solutions that can truly transform our well-being.
According to Attia, the key lies in taking action now and adopting a personalized and proactive approach to longevity. Waiting until old age is simply not an option.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, no magical elixir that guarantees a longer life.
In fact, even centenarians may not have a rigid schedule they follow. Surprisingly, their longevity is often attributed to the fact that they experience chronic diseases two to three decades later than the average person, thanks to their genetic makeup.
Attia emphasizes the importance of delaying the onset of chronic diseases, asserting that we have more control over our health than we might believe.
In many cases, we don’t even need a doctor’s intervention to make significant changes. It’s up to us to seize the opportunity and take charge of our own well-being.
In today’s world, our lifespan is steadily increasing. However, it’s not just about the number of years we live; it’s also about the quality of those years. We must try to enhance our health span, the period during which we can live free from disease and enjoy a fulfilling existence.
Longevity encompasses more than merely extending our time on Earth; it encompasses our mental peace, inner happiness, and the richness of our relationships.
Without emotional peace, there can be, as Attia eloquently puts it, “No greater torture than living longer.”
Below are the 5 key tactics that can help us live longer and better, inspired by Attia’s groundbreaking insights. They are obviously all interconnected and necessary.
A well-balanced and personalized nutrient-dense diet is very important.
Generally, this involves minimizing processed foods, added sugars, and unhealthy fats while focusing on whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
The key thing here is that it works for you.
What we eat, how much we eat, and when we eat all matter. These are the 3 variables we have with food i.e. the quality of our food, the amount, and whether we practice time-restricted eating.
Attia says the most important piece of advice he can give on nutrition is that you should always incorporate restricting one of these.
Regular physical activity is crucial for maintaining overall health.
Attia promotes the benefits of both exercise and strength training and also engaging in activities that challenge the body.
Attia breaks down “exercise” into 4 categories to function at our best.
- Strength: Preventing muscle strength and mass loss is vital for supporting and protecting our bodies as we age. It helps us maintain function, stimulate bone growth and lower our risk of becoming frail.
- Stability: Strength, without stability, generally results in injury. Stability is not just strong core muscles. It actually begins with our breath. A calm breath can steady our nervous system and help our physical function too.
- Aerobic efficiency: Our aerobic fitness doesn’t just increase the likelihood of living longer, it enhances our ability to enjoy our lives, enabling us to be physically active. It provides us with energy and is fundamental to our metabolic health.
As a rule, 80% of aerobic exercise can be below intensity at a level of exertion where you can still speak but don’t want to and 20% needs to be high intensity.
- Aerobic peak capacity (VO2 Max): It’s the metric for our maximum rate of utilizing oxygen, and though we often hear of it relating to athletes, it’s relevant to all of us. “VO2 max is astonishingly predictive of how long you live,” Attia says.
We all know sufficient and quality sleep is essential for our health.
Attia highlights the importance of maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, darkness, and temperature, creating a conducive sleep environment, and practicing relaxation techniques to promote restful sleep.
Sleep is important for the physical body but it may even be more so for the brain.
Having sufficient, good-quality sleep is critical to our cognitive function, our memory, and even our emotional health.
4) Pharmaceutical tools and supplements
To maximize our health span, we need to be open to all tools at our disposal writes Attia.
This includes the use of prescription drugs when they are needed and high-quality supplements when they are indicated.
As we know supplements are an unregulated industry and it’s important to be astute about them.
5) Emotional health
Attia emphasizes the importance of adopting strategies to manage stress and enhance our well-being, such as mindfulness meditation, feeling gratitude, and maintaining meaningful social connections throughout our lives.
Being able to process, navigate and be comfortable with the full range of our emotions is key to our emotional health. Having difficult emotions is part of the human experience.
Facing our emotions, labeling them, understanding them, and then choosing to move forward deliberately is called emotional agility. You can access my article here on 5 Ways to Becoming More Emotional Agile and Being the Best Version of Ourselves.
It’s how we deal with our inner world that drives everything. Research shows that being able to be more mindful and accept all our emotions even the chaotic, challenging ones, is the basis of resilience and thriving, and true, authentic happiness and inner peace.
Another key part of emotional health is the quality of our relationships and our connection with others and ourselves. You could be the healthiest 100-year old around but it’s worth nothing if you don’t have joy, great relationships, and inner peace.
Loneliness is a strong indicator of poor physical and mental health and can lead to early mortality.
One of these 5 tactics above, Attia says is the most potent longevity “drug” of all that we have in our arsenal. Another tactic is the “ultimate curse” of all to longevity if we ignore it.
The most potent longevity “drug” of all is Exercise and the tactic that can be the “ultimate curse” if ignored, is Emotional Health.
“Longevity is meaningless if your life sucks. Or if your relationships suck. None of it matters if your wife hates you … all these need to be addressed if your life is to be worth prolonging – because the most important ingredient in the longevity equation is the why. Why do we want to live longer? For what? For whom?”
Now, let me share with you what really struck me after delving into this research, especially the insights from Attia.
You see, it turns out we hold more control over our lives as we grow older than we ever imagined. There’s no magic formula or quick fix, but the 5 key tactics I’ve discussed above offer a roadmap for charting a different course.
But let’s not overlook the profound questions that lie at the heart of our quest for a longer and healthier life.
Why do we want this? What truly drives us? And who do we want to share this journey with?
If you’re struggling to find answers to these fundamental questions, I encourage you to check out my video and article on discovering a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in your own life. They’re filled with invaluable tools and insights that can help you.
Remember, the path to living longer and better is not just about following tactics; it’s about understanding ourselves and finding fulfillment in every moment.
Best of luck on your journey to a longer, more fulfilling, and vibrant life.