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What is the single, most important thing you can change to ensure a longer and healthier life?

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I answer a fair number of questions on Quora.com.

And I was recently asked:

What is the single, most important thing you can change to ensure a longer and healthier life?

Here’s my answer:

In my new book Super You: How Technology has Revolutionized What it Means to Be Human my co-authors and I examined hyper-longevity extensively. We looked at all the aggregated longevity research and discovered a series of key factors you can influence to live a longer and healthy life. But there is one in particular that standards out. However, it is a bit recursive. Here it is:

> Live as long as possible.

Now that may seem dumb given the question was what can you change to live a longer healthier life, but let me explain. The science and technology that drives discoveries that advance human longevity are accelerating. That is true of all science and technologies. They are all accelerating.

In the case of longevity, the longer you live, the longer you will potentially live. In the countries with the highest life expectancies – like Japan, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia and Spain — the long term increase in life expectancy proceeds at a pace of 2.5 years per 10 years of life, or six hours per day.

That means at the current pace of longevity improvement in the nations with the greatest longevity expectation,. for every day you live from today, you can add 6 hours to your expected lifespan.

By the way life expectancy in the U.S. is ranked 31 in the world. Canada’s rank is 12. UK’s is 19. If you live in another country, check out your nation’s average life expectancy here. Most people in these countries – based on 2015 data – can expect to live on average to around 80 or so.

Futurist and author Ray Kurzweil
Futurist and author Ray Kurzweil (photo credit: Weinberg-Clark Photography)

Ray Kurzweil, who we consulted with on the book – espouses a theory called the “technology Singularity”. Actually it mathematician and author Vernor Vinge’s brainchild, but Kurzweil brilliantly popularized it and developed it in his book called The Singularity is Near (and the forthcoming follow-up book “The Singularity is Nearer”).

Here is the basics of it: Technology improvement is accelerating at an exponential rate. So on or around 2045, computer – or what passes for computers then, will supercede human intelligence. Beyond that date not one is sure what will happen.

That technology acceleration in health sciences – and specifically genetics, nanotechnology and robotics -is expected to advance humanity longevity to a point where we will gain a year of longevity for every year of life we live.

Basically provide humans with access to immortality. And, most importantly, a healthy and youthful immortality. No one wants to love forever as a decrepit, mush-slurping, bed-ridden oldster. Most people want to nimbly leap around with tennis-player-like agility in their dotage.

So the longer you live, the more access you will have to the technologies that will help you live longer.

Mathematician and Singularitarian Vernor Vinge
Mathematician and Singularitarian Vernor Vinge CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=762394

Kurzweil said in a Playboy interview (read it here): “I believe we will reach a point around 2029 when medical technologies will add one additional year every year to your life expectancy,” he told Playboy. “By that I don’t mean life expectancy based on your birthdate, but rather your remaining life expectancy.”

There you go – do everything you can to avoid death in the next 13 years – and you’ll probably live a very long time and likely forever, if you choose.

Now 80% of your longevity comes from your genes. If your parents, blood uncles and blood aunts, and grandparents lived long lives, you’ll likely live as long and likely longer than them. If your brothers and sisters are alive and well, that’s also good news.

The other 20% is influenced by lifestyle-related factors, which you can change. So hedge your bets by following the key advice below, which was aggregated from a several well-known longevity researchers:

  • Eat less of everything
  • Eat nutritiously and consume less animal protein and more beans. Pork seems to be the go-to longevity meat over all others.
  • Avoid obesity
  • Live with purpose
  • Live in a supportive community
  • Get and stay married (married men benefit more than married women)
  • Drink wine in moderation
  • Stay active
  • Manage your stress
  • Don’t smoke or abuse drugs, including alcohol

Since writing the book, I personally do several things to support my own longevity, beside working on the list above:

  • I take resveratrol supplements which supports cell repair (we interviewed David Sinclair, who discovered it)
  • I have had my doctor prescribe me Metformin off label for longevity purposes. It’s a cheap diabetes drug (free here in Florida with a prescription) that appears to support longevity. (Dr. Nir Barzilai of the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in NYC is the researcher on that).
  • I also mega-dose on pharmaceutical grade fish oil for brain health and as a triglyceride-reduction therapy.

You can download our book’s entire hyper-longevity chapter – called Hyper Longevity – How to Make Death Obsolete from Super You – for freeCLICK HERE

Good luck…and long may you live.

Andy Walker


Where to buy Super You: How Technology is Revolutionizing What it Means to Be Human
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