How To Live Longer

How To Live Longer

Image:Flickr-Simon Daniel Photography

Regular readers will know of my particular interest in longevity, (who isn’t?) and here in this post I will summarise some of the latest research around the subject, so that you can make the best use of the years you have, ideally fit and well in your own home, rather than settling for a room in a care home.

The risks of Cytomegalovirus

Although it certainly sounds like it, this isn’t some kind of dinosaur, but in fact is a widespread virus that is harmless and symptom free in the majority of the population, but is more of a challenge to the elderly.  In effect it lies in wait for us to be at a lower ebb, when it then pounces to replicate itself, so using up vital antibodies that we need to fight things like winter flu bugs or worse.

For those people over 80 approximately 85% of them will be carrying the virus, which lies dormant until the body catches another virus, when it then acts on the body by diminishing the effectiveness of the immune system.

The way to tackle this virus is to try and maintain balance in your levels of stress by making sure that you:-

  1. Do enough exercise – especially cardio-vascular training which will help to lower the levels of cortisol in the body, (one of the main stress hormones.)
  2. Get enough sleep so that your body repairs itself overnight.  Even a sleep deficit of a couple of hours has been proved to lower immune response according to research at Birmingham University.
  3. Have a well-balanced diet, avoiding extremes of cholesterol or glucose as the virus uses those substances to replicate itself.

Social Support As A Stress Antidote

Again from Birmingham we have some research that shows that having friendships to rely on can help an elderly person to deal with a stressful event, especially if it is something like a bereavement.

Dr. Anna Phillips is an internationally renowned researcher and Health Psychologist working in Psychoneuroimmunology and Psychophysiology, which means she investigates how stress and ageing affect our immune systems.  When an old person has vaccinations, if they have had a recent stressful life event, then the vaccination will not work as effectively.  It is therefore a good idea to seek out social support to help a person through the loss of a loved one, which is much more common in the older age groups.

Do you have any tips from long living people that you know?  What are the things that they do, that have helped them live a long and happy life? Let us know in the comments or use the contact page here.