Longevity science has long studied a person’s genetic predisposition to living to an old age. A recent study found biomarkers in the blood of centenarians (one who is 100 years or older) differ from their younger counterparts. Suggesting longevity is not all about genetics, that there are possibly modifiable lifestyle factors that play an important role for long life.
The longevity science study followed more than 44,000 people from their mid-60s to late 90s until they died. Of these, 1224 lived to 100 years old. Using blood samples collected earlier in the participants' lives, researchers assessed 12 blood-related biomarkers previously associated with aging or early death, including those associated with inflammation and indicators of malnutrition, anemia, and liver, kidney, and metabolic function.
The tested biomarkers were:
Inflammation: uric acid
Metabolic: total cholesterol, glucose
Liver function: alanine aminotransferase (ALAT), aspartate aminotransferase (ASAT), albumin, gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and lactate dehydrogenase (LD)
Kidney function: creatinine
Anemia: iron and total iron-binding capacity (TIBC)
Higher levels of total cholesterol (more on this later) and iron and lower levels of glucose, creatinine, uric acid, ASAT, GGT, ALP, TIBC, and LD were associated with a greater likelihood of becoming a centenarian.
While all these biomarkers play a role in reaching 100, the most substantial biomarkers on health were:
glucose, creatinine, and uric acid
Glucose is a measure of the amount of sugar you have in your blood. Glucose mainly comes from carbohydrates in the food and drinks you consume. Glucose is necessary as we use it as our main source for energy.
However; we need to regulate the level of glucose in our blood.
Any amount of high blood sugar leads to damage in your nerves, blood vessels, tissues, and organs. If high blood sugar is left unchecked, it will lead to diabetes.
Glucose is the simplest type of carbohydrate that we get from food and drink.
There are two forms of carbohydrates: simple and complex. The body digests simple carbs quickly and complex carbs slowly.
Complex carbs are considered a healthier option over simple because they supply a steadier stream of energy.
There are several ways to help lower blood sugar levels; here are three measures that when implemented consistently can render desired results.
Exercise: increases insulin sensitivity allowing your cells to use the sugar more effectively in your bloodstream. Exercising also pushes excess sugar from your bloodstream into your cells for later use.
Manage carb intake: improves your body's ability to manage glucose over time. Manage your carb intake prioritizing whole grains over processed ones.
Eat more fiber/choose foods with a low glycemic index: fiber slows down sugar absorption allowing for a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels. Foods high in fiber and those with a low glycemic index are similar to each other: legumes, vegetables, whole grains, lentils, and oats.
Creatinine is a waste product produced by muscles. The primary way in which the body removes creatinine from the blood is by filtration through the kidneys and then excretion in the urine.
High creatinine levels usually indicate that the kidneys are not working as they should. High creatinine can be associated with many kidney problems such as kidney infections, kidney stones, kidney inflammation, and overall kidney inflammation.
Creatinine is a byproduct of normal muscle functions. High intensity exercising typically increase the level of creatinine in your blood. Pregnancy, dehydration, and a high-protein diet can also increase creatinine.
Stay away from creatinine supplements and reduce protein intake. Eating high levels of red meat can also cause creatinine levels to rise. Instead, think about a vegetable based diet and cutting back on red meat. Eating more fiber such as fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains can lower creatinine levels.
High uric acid levels (hyperuricemia) can be the result of the body making too much uric acid, not getting rid of enough of it or both. High uric acid levels are commonly associated with Gout, where uric acid crystals form in joints, often in the big toe.
Uric acid is formed when purines break down in the body. Purine is a chemical found in certain foods such as beans, seafood, beef, pork, lobster, shrimp, and alcohol.
Avoid purine-rich foods and alcohol. Uric acid levels are often a hereditary condition that cannot be avoided, but with diet and medications it can be controlled quite well.
Wait…higher total cholesterol is better?
Remember before when the results stated higher total cholesterol was a beneficial biomarker to reaching 100?
How can this be right?
The typical published guidelines that people follow are set based on a younger and healthier population. As such, clinically defined normal ranges might not always reflect the optimum for the oldest old.
In fact, the researchers found that a higher total cholesterol level was associated with a higher chance of becoming centenarian, which stands in contrast to clinical guidelines regarding cholesterol levels, but is in line with previous studies showing that high cholesterol is generally favorable for mortality in very old age.
While longevity science showed centenarians overall showed favorable levels of some biomarkers, for example, glucose, creatinine, and uric acid where lower levels are considered healthier...
How do social and environmental factors play a role in longevity?
Blue Zones are five places on Earth where people regularly live past 100 without intentionally exercising or dieting….their day-to-day environment creates longevity.
Their environment of gardening, walking, home-cooking and other daily chores creates a lifestyle that allows for longevity without vigorously exercising or dieting, they just naturally stack together consistently healthy days.
The Blue Zones are:
Okinawa, Japan: eat a lot of soy-based foods and practice tai chi, a meditative form of exercise.
Sardinia, Italy: live in mountainous regions where they typically work on farms, walk hills, and drink lots of red wine.
Nicoya, Costa Rica: perform physical jobs into old age.
Ikaria, Greece: eat a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, red wine and homegrown vegetables.
Loma Linda, California: live in a tight-knit social community of Seventh-day Adventists who are also strict vegetarians.
Longevity science has identified biomarkers to living past 100 that can be improved with diet, movement, and environment. At Stretch Affect we don’t put the cart before the horse and jump headfirst into moving. We listen to your goals, evaluate your physical capacities, and then implement strategies to get you where you want to go.
You are in it for the long-haul and so are we…take a look at how we go about customizing movement programs that are built for you.
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