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The Importance of Life Expectancy for your Unique Personal Situation

The Importance of Life Expectancy for your Unique Personal Situation

The most interesting question I ever got was β€œHow old are you going to be?”. There had been a vague notion in the back of my head, but until then I had never put an actual number on it.

The importance of life expectancy is huge. Not just for life insurers but especially for your personal situation.

Why? Well, let’s say you will live to be 100. And that you retire at age 67. That means 33 years of not having a job and maybe more costs because of declining health. Which in turn means that you’d better have made preparations while you were still working.

Important aspects to take into account

1. Health

The importance of life expectancy for your personal situation

A friend’s mother died last year, age 96, while reading a book in the sun on her balcony. That is my ideal way of going. Hardly ever sick, living a meaningful life, and then pass away while doing a favorite activity.

You and I know you can’t choose everything in life, but we can sure try, can’t we?

To give another example: I am 66 now (2020) and I am going to be 110. That’s 44 years I want to spend as healthy and pleasurable as possible.

A friend of mine is 62 and has a heart condition. He is convinced he is not going to be older than 73. Meaning 11 years left.

Can you imagine the difference in approach between the two of us? I hardly drink alcohol, eat only organic food and practice intermittent fasting. He drinks at least 2 glasses of alcohol daily, hates to go to the gym, and eats whatever and whenever it pleases him. It’s what I would call: working steadily on a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Conscientiousness is key to longevity. Genes only count for one-third of longevity, the rest comes from lifestyle and chance.

2. Finance


Will you have the money to grow old? We all have dreams, haven’t we, of what we still want in life when retired. It is not something that young people think about a lot, but if you start planning early in life it will benefit greatly later on. Not just because you will have money then, but because you have trained yourself to plan.

I haven’t planned as much as I should have done. After graduation, I worked as a teacher. When I was 32 years old, I started my own studio as a graphic designer. Although I saved money in the “good years”, it was not structural. I only began to really think about planning in the seminar where I got that question about how old I would get?

3. Happiness

Happy people live longer. When health and wealth conditions are met it’s a good idea to work on your happiness. Decide what gives you joy. One of my favourite quotes is “Happiness is not trying or finding, it’s deciding”.

Related: How to Have a Healthy Lifestyle that Contributes to Longevity?

4. Environment

being socially connected

Being socially involved is so important. We have all experienced that during the COVID-19 crisis. To a greater or lesser extent, most of us have been in lockdown. Over here in Spain, the lockdown has been very severe. We haven’t seen anybody in over a year. And still, we hardly see anyone now the reigns are gradually loosened.

Loneliness is twice as deadly as alcohol! It’s even deadlier than smoking. Not that I suggest you drink and smoke all you want, but it gives significance to the gravity of the issue.

Make sure you surround yourself with the right friends and that you keep involved in your community. For instance by taking part in courses in the community centre. Or by being a volunteer in areas that interest you. If you can’t because of a lockdown, then use Skype, Zoom, or social media to keep in touch.

5. Contribute

When you want to grow very old it’s clear that there still should be an earth to live on. We as humans haven’t done a very good job at that for the past 200 years. Not everybody believes climate change is our fault, but I do. And I am to contribute to a solution as best I can.

For instance by eating organic. The most frequent objection against organic is that it is too expensive. But if we choose a happy and wealthy life for ourselves why not grant that to ecological farmers as well? Apart from being a better choice for the earth, it benefits your health big time.

I try to reduce my waste and when I have the choice between a natural material like paper and bamboo or plastic I won’t even consider plastic.

Related: Healthy Lifestyle: What are the Lifetime Benefits of Organic Food

Attach importance to your own life expectancy

It’s nice to know the areas that are important for longevity, but having a set of practical tips makes it easier to live by. These are tips I live by myself. Yet I must emphasize that although I value scientific proof, not every tip is (yet) backed by it. So by all means do your own research if you want to be certain it will help you as well.

1. Avoid overeating

Intermittent fasting means you eat less than people usually do. This can either be eating normally for 5 days of the week and skipping eating for 2. Or – which I regard is easier – you can skip one of your daily meals. I skip dinner, so I only eat between 9 am and 5 pm.

Animal studies suggest that calorie reduction gives an extended lifespan. But this hasn’t been tested well enough on humans.

2. Eat 500 grams of vegetables

The importance of life expectancy - Daily 500 grams of vegetables

Eating plenty of plant foods lowers the risk of various common diseases. Vegetables are especially good because of their vitamins, minerals, and fibres. Food agencies recommend a daily intake of 200 to 250 grams, yet 500 grams is much better for overall health and life expectancy.

Have a look at my Rainbow Food series on one of my other websites: if you make sure you eat each colour daily, you will get most of the essential nutrients and vitamins.

3. Drink a lot of water

Your weight in kilos multiplied by 0,044 is the number of litres you should drink every day. This is an average, so depending on your gender, age, and occupation this might be a bit more. It’s easy to check: your pee should be light of colour, then you drank enough. It doesn’t have to be clear water only. Herbal tea counts as well.

I am European and only have a vague notion of what that is in American amounts. But when I research I find this: you should drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh. I can only hope that will be more or less the same amount as they advise over here. πŸ™‚

4. Eat nuts

Nuts contain a lot of proteins, fibres, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds. As well as several vitamins and minerals. And they are great as a snack.

5. Curcuma

Curcuma or turmeric contains a powerful bio active substance called curcumin. The Indian kitchen adds lots of Curcuma to the food. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. Animal studies show a longer life expectancy when given Curcuma.

6. Be physically active

This can be as simple as brisk walking 15 minutes a day. For an ageing person, it’s advisable to add strength training and stretching exercises. A couple of times a week is great.

7. Limit your alcohol intake

There are studies that show wine lovers have a better life expectancy than beer or spirits drinkers. Contrary to what is said, it is not true that drinking wine is healthier than not drinking alcohol at all.

Occasionally I drink a glass of wine, so I can’t say I am a teetotaler. I just feel that alcohol is not good for my body.

8. Don’t smoke

It is never too late to stop. Smokers are at high risk for heart disease and lung cancer. Not only does smoking reduce life expectancy, it also affects the quality of life. Not just of yourself but also of the people in your direct environment.

9. Avoid chronic stress

avoid chronic stress

Especially younger people can experience a lot of stress. Career, starting a family, and financial problems can have a big impact on our feelings of stress. Mindfulness and meditation can reduce anxiety.

For a long time, I insisted I couldn’t meditate. All those things we keep telling ourselves! Guided meditations did the trick. I use Calm, Balance, and Insight Timer, and won’t miss a day anymore.

10. Have goals

Several long-term studies show that being goal-oriented, self-disciplined, and organized seems to have a positive effect on longevity. Having goals is rarely associated with ageing people. Still, it’s very beneficial to have them even then.

11. Sleep well

My biggest challenge. All my life I have struggled with sleeping well and enough. Knowing it’s bad for my health didn’t add to a solution, as you can imagine. Because sleeping became an even bigger problem when I was getting older. This is why I have developed a ‘sleep strategy’ as you can read on one of my other websites.

How old are you going to be?

Ever since I was asked this question, I have been fascinated by it. And in turn, I regularly ask people I meet the same. The answers are always interesting, I can assure you. So tell me, how old are you going to be? Please put it in the comment box. πŸ™‚

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16 thoughts on “The Importance of Life Expectancy for your Unique Personal Situation”

  1. This is a brilliant piece. I’m not 50 yet, but lately my mortality has been in the front banner of my mind.

    How do I want to age?
    What finances do I want to grow old into.

    You not only presented the things that we need to set right, you also advised on what to afford and practice.

    I have been thoroughly informed by this.

    Thank you

    • Thanks so much, Ibi. I am so glad you liked it. I would have liked this kind of information myself years ago πŸ˜€

  2. The Importance of Life Expectancy provides very good tips, I must admit many of them I never thought about before reading your post. So you have given me some new things to consider to stay healthy and happy as I age, and I thank you for sharing all this information to your readers like me


  3. What a simple and beautiful message you are spreading through your lovely article. I believe in going back to the basics – living simple, happy and healthy lifestyle. Staying away from complications and drama as much as possible. I will definitely try to apply all the aspects you’ve shared here.

    Much love and kindness to you.


  4. I love this post. I plan to live happily and healthily until 110 as there is too much I want to do to go sooner. Also, it takes the fear out of being 80. Your friend who reckons he will pop off at 73 is probably right – not because of his lifestyle necessarily, but because of his expectation. Your outlook is absolutely critical.

    I have a couple of months left at 58, I walk every day and do weights at least 5 out of 7 days and love learning new things. Am loving not working during lock-down but am working away at home writing quite happily.

    I must admit I am not sure about fasting – I think I stay slim because I am such a grazer. Your body can go into starvation and use your muscles for energy instead of fat if it doesn’t know when the next food is coming. (I admit to being absolutely ignorant to the fact about planned fasting!).

    Looking forward to reading more of your posts.



    • Thanks, Jean! It’s great that next to the anxiety, this virus thing shows us also another way of living, doesn’t it. πŸ™‚
      As I am keeping my weight despite the fasting and feel very healthy I guess that my way is right for me. I must say it’s easier over here in Spain than it would have been in the Netherlands, where I come from. The times to eat are so different in Spain. Diner at 11pm is definitely too late for me, so I don’t mind skipping it!

  5. How old am I going to be? I don’t know the answer as I have never thought about it or asked myself this question. Thank you to this post I’m asking it right now and I see how important it is. You need to plan for it. We all want to live longer but healthier and active but for that we need to plan and work on it now. Thanks for sharing it. Keep up with the good work.

  6. This is an excellent post. I turned 30 last week and it made me rethink things. Obviously 30 is still a young age. However when I think about my 3 kids, the stress my job brings etc I do wonder how old I would be. I think I would be happy with late 80’s.

  7. What an excellent article and what an excellent question β€œhow old are you going to be?”. It’s certainly something I’ve never asked myself but it’s there now and all I can do is ask it, answer it and think about what that will mean for me. So true re the self fulfilling prophecy. You’ve given me and other readers some really great tips and things to consider. Excellent!


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