Dr Nighat discusses benefits of walking for longevity
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Living past one hundred can seem like a difficult equation to crack, with a tiny percentage of people reaching the number. Experts say there are some specific behaviours you need to avoid to live longer. But what do those that reached 100 say?
According to David Sinclair, a professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, longevity is something you start working on long before you hit old age.
He told the Youtube channel Reverse Ageing Revolution: “You want to start early in life. You can’t decide at 80 that this is a good idea, this big effect.
“Poor sleep, huge amounts of mental stress, lack of exercise, sitting around, eating too much and becoming obese and smoking. These are all things that will accelerate ageing. We know that if you get sunburned too much, you’ll get older and we know that this accelerates this clock because it’s breaking the chromosomes.”
But what do centenarians themselves believe is key to their longevity? Some attribute a degree of luck and have a relaxed approach to life, while others look towards diet.
Mike Fremont, a 100-year-old marathon runner from Cincinnati, Ohio, attributes a plant-based diet to his longevity.
Fremont has multiple running records, including the fastest marathon time at age 80. But he hasn’t always been a perfect picture of health.
He only started running after the heartbreak of losing his wife in his 30s to a brain haemorrhage. Fremont told People Magazine he needed “to do something every day to take the stress off”.
He was also diagnosed with bowel cancer aged 69 and given just three months left to live. It was this ordeal that motivated him to start competing.
But he emphasises the importance of his plant-based diet, which he started after his bowel cancer diagnosis.
He recently told the Rich Roll podcast: “People used to look at me strangely when I’d say, no I don’t eat meat, no I don’t drink milk, no eggs.”
“I’m no doctor and I can’t get into that science but several of the diseases that we have are truly associated with eating certain meats.”
The NHS recommends people eat a balanced, healthy diet. It explains that you can get all the necessary nutrients you need from a balanced vegan diet that’s full of fortified foods and supplements.
But like Fremont, health experts warn against over-consuming certain meats. A recent study, published in the British Medical Journal found that ultra-processed meat is linked with a 29 percent higher risk of bowel cancer.
Other centenarians have taken a relaxed approach to their health.
A few years before his death in March 2020, the centenarian Cliff Crozier from Birkenhead in Cheshire, told LifeHunters: “It’s just that you keep going, it’s only a number. 101, it’s only a number and you live for the day.
“A spot of whiskey occasionally helps, although it’s not on the national health.”
The studies about alcohol consumption are varied. But the consensus among most healthcare providers is that moderate alcohol consumption – within the recommended limit of 14 units per week – is okay for your health.
Some studies even suggest that moderate consumption may even be beneficial for your health.
Recent research suggested that not drinking alcohol puts you at a higher risk of developing dementia.
Another centenarian, Amelia Tereza Harper from Czechoslovakia – who moved to the UK as a child to meet her father who was a prisoner of war here – believes that luck played a role in her longevity.
She said: “I have always been lucky. I have never been unlucky, touch wood.
“Everything makes me happy. I love talking to people. I like doing things, I like going out shopping.”
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