How Long Will You Live?

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Dan Buettner, a writer, explorer, and endurance bicycler, gave a TED Talk in September 2009 entitled: How to live to be 100+. In the talk, he cites the Danish Twin Study, suggesting that much of our lifespan (within certain biological limits) is dictated by our lifestyle, not our genes. So what is the optimal lifestyle? Which diet is best? What sort of exercise is best? How do spirituality and social life affect lifespan? Buettner decided to initiate his own study, in which he studied the world's "Blue Zones"—regions of the world where people live to very old age, and remain relatively healthy. The cool part here is that Buettner, at least as far as I can tell, is not a crackpot. He isn't promising to stop aging via pills or any other magical cure. What he's looking at is how to live just a bit longer -- specifically, about 12 years in the US.

So can you live to 100 and beyond? The short answer is: probably not. An individual must have the right genetics AND the right lifestyle to achieve this. But given that we can't currently change our genes, what lifestyle would give us the longest, healthiest lives? That's what Buettner's talk is about.

Discussed: procreative success, myths about aging (including "treatments that stop aging"), how cell replication interacts with aging, typical capacity of the human body (90+ years), life expectancy in the US (~78 years), the Blue Zone in Sardinia (with 10x more centenarians than in the US), the Blue Zone in Okinawa (with the longest disability-free lifespan in the world) and calorie restriction, the Blue Zone in Loma Linda California (Seventh-Day Adventists), a 97-year-old open-heart surgeon, the nine "common denominators" among all the Blue Zones.

If you can make time for this twenty-minute talk, I think you'll be surprised by the last five minutes, in which Buettner shares the nine specific diet and lifestyle factors revealed by the Blue Zones.

What Do You Think?

Do you have relatives who have lived to be 90, 100, or longer? Were those "good years" or years of suffering? What are you doing in your life to extend your lifespan -- if anything?

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January 14, 2010 - 12:11pm
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