The most interesting question I ever got was “How 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.
Table of contents
- 1 Important aspects to take into account
- 2 Attach importance to your own life expectancy
- 3 How old are you going to be?
Important aspects to take into account
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.
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?
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”.
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.
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.
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
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. 🙂
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.
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
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. 🙂
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