The term longevity comes from the Latin longaevus, the adjective longus (long), and the noun aevus (belatedly) and refers to time, age, or life span. Thus, the term longevo is applied to a person of advanced age, just as longevity can be applied to the quality of living longer.

There are different factors that can influence longevity, including both genetic factors and environmental factors, such as diet, lifestyle habits, and even aspects such as birth order or the mother's age at birth.

In terms of genetic factors influencing longevity, it has been shown that variations in the FOXO3A gene may be closely related. This was initially observed in Japanese men and has been tested in all other populations including Europe.

Factors related to longevity

Diet: this is one of the most studied factors influencing longevity, although many aspects of how and to what extent it influences it remains to be clarified. Both experimental data and evidence from observational studies suggest that dietary calorie reductions of 30-40% of total requirements would promote longevity. This is not to say that poor diets or restrictive diets should be practiced. The diet should be balanced and contain all the nutrients necessary to carry out all the functions of our body: carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins, as well as minerals and trace elements. On the other hand, even more than the quantity, the type of food would have a relevant influence on longevity, being preferably recommended in this sense the most natural foods, less processed and free of toxins (natural and artificial).

Physical activity: is fundamental to maintaining a healthy life and by extension to longevity. Studies and observations in long-lived communities suggest the need for sustained daily physical activity as long as it does not exceed the individual's capacity, as this would lead to harmful overtraining. Physical activity is understood in a general way, including sport, work, or simply the walking we do on a daily basis.

Sleep and rest: rest provides optimal repair and readjustment of vital mechanisms and processes. Restful sleep has rhythmic characteristics and does not depend so much on its duration in time as on its quality. Centenarians report having restful sleep and do not generally have sleep disorders.

Heredity: individual characteristics have a hereditary basis in the structure and functionality of organs and systems, as well as metabolic processes at the cellular level, which are exposed to the negative effects of stress. In long-lived communities, although it is not possible to speak about the exact relationship between heredity and centenarians, it is common to find long-lived people who come from relatives who have also been centenarians. On the other hand, there are certain hereditary diseases that can promote and accelerate the aging process. Among the most common is diabetes and among the rarest and most striking is progeria, a pathology in which individuals age more rapidly and at 10 or 20 years of age are completely old.


Help your brain

Longevity does not only deal with living longer, but also being aware of living and enjoying it. Among the more frequent "recipes" (that have a scientific basis) for staying alert, is that of memorizing something every day. Neuroscientists prefer fragments of books or poems as this exercises that part of the brain that is normally little used, and this, in turn, generates exchanges of information among brain cells.

Another suggestion is to try to remember the names of the persons around us. This is also related to the above suggestion as it also makes the cerebral cortex work harder, with the added benefit of improving our relationship with these people and the image they have of us. It is a given fact that the word human beings react better to is our name. Using it in a conversation with the persons we deal with on a daily basis makes them feel appreciated and this improves our interactions with them, resulting in a better life.

Avoiding negative thoughts is another way to keep the brain running smoothly. The specialists recommend doing whatever necessary to avoid negative thoughts; one of the most effective and better ways to so this is to "burn the thought". This is not only graphic but also physical. When a negative thought invades our mind, it is best to close our eyes and imagine the idea on a piece of paper, light the paper with a match and watch it disintegrate. If we can do this physically instead of only thinking about it, it is even more effective.

Help your body

First of all, relax. It is necessary to find moments in the day to enjoy yourself, do the things that you like or simply, rest. This is basic so that you do not wear down your vital organs, even the brain, and keep them in shape for the daily challenges. Experts recommend sleeping less; about 5 hours should be sufficient for an adult although each organism is different and may need more or less. What is clear is that sleeping more than 8 hours does not help the body and may even slow down its metabolism.

Exercise is also important, and the specialists say that we must focus on developing stronger and more resistant abdominal muscles. Why? Because these are the center of our body, our balance comes from them and it is a must for any physical activity. Stronger abdominal muscles means that exercises like running, dancing, walking or even mountain climbing become easier and more pleasurable.

If you follow these recommendations, you will be doing your part to live life the best way possible through the years and the help prevent the illness that normally come as we age. All of this will help us to live not only longer, but also better.

Gene or region studied

  • FOXO3
  • CDKN2B-AS1
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