HealthLive up to 150: Nutrition, exercise, fasting, and thermal stimuli as the longevity pillars

Live up to 150: Nutrition, exercise, fasting, and thermal stimuli as the longevity pillars

Cold showers may prolong life.
Cold showers may prolong life.
Images source: © Getty Images | Maartje van Caspel

4:25 AM EST, January 14, 2024

Keys to a longer life: exercise and fasting are just the basics

"No clearly defined age limit exists for the human body," says Professor Michalsen in an interview with Die Welt. It is believed that people can live in good health up to the age of 150. Though longevity research is still progressing, four pillars of prolonging life have been identified that anyone aiming to extend their health and lifespan can utilize.

The first of these is training: includes endurance, strength, and coordination which become increasingly important as we age - they help prevent sarcopenia, which is age-related muscle wasting.

The role of diet and fasting

The second pillar is diet and associated fasting, a repeated cyclic temporary abstinence from eating. Regular fasting suppresses inflammation, lowers high blood pressure and blood sugar levels, reduces abdominal fat, stimulates the production of new stem cells, and cleanses cells (autophagy).

"When it comes to fasting or calorie restriction, it’s a natural way to improve well-being, recognized since ancient times when hunger and food shortages were ubiquitous," explains Professor Michalsen.

He emphasizes that while longevity research has been ongoing for decades, and many researchers won't live to see the effects of their experiments, it is sure that fasting and good nutrition ultimately have virtually no side effects.

"I see no reason to await the remaining research results. In the case of dietary supplements and special foods, we do not have such clarity," he adds.

He recommends the 16:8 or 14:10 fasting method, that is, abstaining from eating for 16 or 14 hours, and eating during the remaining time window. "Combine morning exercise after night-time fasting to completely deplete sugar stores, enhancing the effects of fasting," he suggests.

During the eating window, avoid fast food. Norwegian researchers highlight that women who start eating healthily at 20 gain an average of 11 years of life, and men even 13 years.

"If you amend your diet at 60, you can still gain eight to nine years, depending on your sex. Adding fasting and thermal stimuli to the mix and, depending on genetic predispositions, you can gain another 10 healthy years," the doctor emphasizes.

Thermal stimuli and sleep

The third pillar is thermal stimuli for the body. "The human body should cope well with both cold and heat, for instance, with icy showers and sauna sessions," the expert suggests.

He advises taking icy morning showers, assuring that after a 2-6 week "grit your teeth and bear it" phase, the showers will start to feel less like a nightmare, and we will start noticing their positive effects.

Read also: Drink on an empty stomach: Cleanses the intestines, strengthens the heart and joints

Similar effects are noticeable from restful sleep, the last pillar of longevity. The rule of thumb is to sleep enough and in sync with your biological rhythm. During sleep, the brain cells cleanse themselves, helped by the glymphatic system, composed of cells surrounding the proper nerve cells.

"The glymphatic system transports the shrunken cells and proteins out of the brain during sleep. This cleansing function of the brain must be allowed to do its work in peace. If you need an alarm clock to wake up, it means that you haven't slept long enough," he explains.

The reasoning behind extending life

Not everyone dreams of living 150 years, but it's a fact that fasting, thermal stimuli, sleep, and physical activity can prevent many diseases: heart attacks, strokes, dementia, degenerative joint disease, cancers, diabetes, hypertension, and cataracts, among others.

To this end, the cost to achieve it does not seem too high.

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