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Life Expectancy is a Myth

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Maciej Daniszewski

Ostatnia aktualizacja20 maja 2020

There is no greater secret in our world than eternal life, a dream of humanity for centuries. That is one of the biggest problems we would love to solve with our devices and ideas. Humanity is worth getting access to the life it never had before, a long and unproblematic one. We still have a way to go before getting access to immortality, but many practices and habits are extending our lifespan. Science proved them by analysis of groups of subjects. However, is there a way to check it for yourself? Apparently, as we do not know our supposed date of death, we have to trust scientists on this one. And what they are proving often surprises us. We have collected several of the most interesting things about a longer life.

Their ideas start from very problematic ones — like starving

And it is not only about obesity. Starving is really a way to make life longer. It was proved on worms and mice and debated for a long time for humans. Research published in the Journal of Nutrition in January 2009 had a significant impact on this subject. They have been observing for a longer time naturally chubby mice, and when they were given reduced-calorie meals, their lives were longer than lean mice that ate diet food only.


Smaller animals checked in previous studies — fruit flies and mice — lived almost twice as long when they were almost starving whole their lives. And for them, it was around 30% fewer calories than usual. Human lives are not as spectacularly prolonged, but a 2008 study indicates that we could get up to five years for starving our whole life as an average human being. It is probably connected to lowering the metabolic rate that reduces the frequency of life-threatening diseases by reducing the free radicals produced naturally by our bodies. There is a great scientist with a lot to say about average lifespan of a human when it comes to starving:

Here’s a rough rule of thumb that many experts agree on now: Eat 15 percent less starting at age 25 and you might add 4.5 years to your life

Eric Ravussin, who studies human health and performance at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana.

Coming down to things that happen every day

Need several more years? Floss your teeth too, as that saves you from heart diseases and other medical problems connected to bad teeth. And losing them greatly increases the chance of infections over time. The same applies to dentist visits, so do not forget to check your teeth at least once a year. That sounds surprising, but there is a lot of medical research on this subject. Flossing daily could prolong your life even by 5 years, so it is worth trying. And your breath will smell much better if you do this regularly.

And also ones that determine your life, as marriage does

That one is hard to believe but still true. When planning on leading a long life, you need to make it happy and as least stressful as possible. One of the ways of doing so is getting married to the right person, and that was proven by data published in the book „Longevity project”. You can find their information about men staying married for their whole lives with one person living beyond 70 and that only one-third of divorced men made it to that age.

Women can get 4 more years if they live with the love of their life

So the advice is to find the right person or never get married, as singles live longer than divorced men.


The same case with women — happily married for the whole life, lived four years longer than non-married ones. Several hypotheses explain these differences: married men might adopt healthier lives and take fewer risks, or their wives may help them stay connected to their social circle, since being social also has a positive impact on lifespan. Hard to judge, but the verdict is clear — get married, the sooner, the better.

Our approach to life is one of the main factors

There is nothing better than relaxing vacation. Or is there? Research shows us the opposite, as hard-working and prudent people live the longest. It is an outcome of the study which followed lives of a group created for over 1500 children born in the 1920s until their deaths.

People relaxing

The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study (Hudson Street Press) was published in 2011 and shows us the whole analysis of this group. It indicates that prudent, dependable children on average avoided risks and ended in stable relationships, which were a major boost for health happiness and longevity. It prolongs life by 2–3 years and gives a 20–30% lower risk of early death.

But also the worldview matters

There is bad news awaiting atheists. Being religious or spiritual can have a significant impact on length of life. It is almost like a gift from gods for believing in them. Whatever faith you follow, studies have shown that people who are a part of religious communities are more likely to live longer than those who aren’t. Religious people experience less anxiety and depression, and the benefits of being a socially active part of a community can make a big difference in mental health. That is connected to our need for social activity. Maintaining an active social life makes a big difference in mental health, and is especially important in old age. Staying social reduces stress, and it has been proven that it lowers your risk of illness.

And it ends with the conclusion

Almost all of the above solutions sound like big changes in life, but researchers are still there for us, and they are creating new drugs to give us what we want. It probably sounds even more promising, though the drugs are still in early stages of research. They are being designed by what has been learned from calorie-restriction studies. Those drugs would target human cells to deliver the same benefits as the diet, turning off bad things and turning on good things to extend cell life in general, or just offer new therapies and cures to diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. It is still probably not enough to reach the maximum human lifespan, but we are getting more knowledge from every trial.

If you can hang in there until these promising new drug therapies are developed, you may live in a world where lifespan increases by 10 to 15 years, researchers say.

There is only one good answer to that one. Work faster, scientists, I am already alive, and I will need this drug.

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