Janet and Steve 2010 at Rocky Mtn Natl Park

Anti-aging and long-term health: how much is not genetics?

What determines our longevity and level of health as we age?  Is it largely pre-determined by our genetics?  Are our expectations for ourselves based primarily on what we have observed for our parents and family?  Genetics does matter, but…

Studies of identical twins indicate that our health and longevity is determined 70% to 80% by lifestyle and behavior, and only 20% to 30% by genetics !!

Want to make a quick assessment of how you are doing?  An initial question is: ”Am I at a healthy weight and active, or am I overweight and sedentary?”  That is very general, but these basic factors strongly influence many of the more detailed factors.

Want to make a more detailed assessment of your current health status?  I can provide a very helpful checklist prepared by one of this country’s top doctors.  This self-evaluation considers eating habits, physical activity, stress / de-stress, smoking / air quality, body mass / size measurements, bloodwork test results (if recently available), diagnosed health conditions and medications, and your family’s medical history.  You can then check where is your score in the range from sick to very healthy.  Even if you don’t total out your score, this can be a very handy tool for helping you pick your best next step.

Finding it hard to believe that the combination of lifestyle and behavior is a bigger factor than genetics?  Consider that aging occurs at the cellular level.  Although we tend to think of our bodies as fairly permanent structures, most of our bodies’ tissues are under constant renewal by new cells replacing old cells.  Not all of our types of cells replace themselves, but most do, and here are some estimates I’ve seen of turnover time:  5 days for our gut lining cells, 2 weeks or so for the surface layer of our skin, about 17 weeks for our red blood cells, 43 to 72 weeks for our livers, and even our bones - about every 10 years!

Healthy habits are important to providing a good cellular environment, and the right cellular environment is not only important to this cell replenishment process, but can also improve the natural abilities of some types of our cells to repair themselves!

Here’s a way of looking at the choice:  Picture yourself 3 to 6 months from now, based on your current situation and current trajectory.  Where will you be, how will you feel, and what will be your outlook?  Then consider, “If I could have a longer life expectancy and better health at that future time than I do now, WOULD I WANT IT?  How would my change in direction and outlook affect the people I love / the people that may look to my example?”

The guidelines of this Structured Plan are provided by a top doctor who believes this is possible and readily achievable for most people, with the right changes starting now in their lifestyles and behaviors.  Further, he believes and continues to show that by getting to a healthy weight and continuing these healthy habits for a few years, it is often possible to UNDO effects of previous lifestyle and behavior - “FORGIVENESS !”

I believe it, too – based on the credibility of this doctor and his program, the science behind the tools, my experience with using this structured plan personally, and the health gains of my family and many others with whom I have worked.

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