Genetics versus lifestyle in relation to longevity is a debate that many scientists have on a regular basis. Many studies on this topic are still in their infancy, but they are already providing valuable information. Here’s some information on how genetics may influence longevity and also what environmental or lifestyle changes you could make to extend your lifespan.
A couple of centuries ago, people did not have consistent access to clean water, well-preserved and fresh meats, fruits and vegetables. These issues along with regular challenges with sanitation, significantly influenced life expectancy. Even as recently as the early 1900s, the average life expectancy in the U.S. was only in the mid to late 40s. Today, with access to clean, readily available water, disease-free food, comprehensive medical care and better housing and work conditions, people in the United States are living an average of 80 years of age with many joining the growing nonagenarian (those in their nineties) and centenarian (those over 100) clubs.
Studies of Nonagenarians and Centenarians
In order to learn more about longevity, scientists have been studying older adults who are living into their 90s and 100s. Interestingly, aside from the fact that most of the adults in this group are women, they don’t have much in common in terms of income, education level or even genetic similarities. What they most often share is a propensity for having a healthy lifestyle. People in this group are generally non-smokers, cope well with stress, have healthy eating habits and are not overweight.
Genetics vs. Environment and Lifestyle
Although evidence appears to imply that environmental and lifestyle factors determine life expectancy, this isn’t the full story. Studies suggest that about 20-30% of the probability of someone living past the age of 85 may be attributed to genes. At this time, scientists are still working to determine which genes provide the keys to the “fountain of youth” and how they can help people to live longer.
Living a Longer Life
We may not be able to control our genetics, but we can make changes to the primary determinants of longevity: environmental and lifestyle factors. Here are some tips to help you feel younger and live longer:
- Quit smoking.
- Exercise every day.
- Learn healthy techniques for managing emotional stress.
- Eat regular, well-rounded and healthy meals.
- Learn new skills and challenge yourself mentally.
- Socialize frequently.
- Take good care of your teeth – gum disease has been linked to several serious ailments.
- See your doctor regularly and follow all preventative care recommendations.
The team at Lighthouse Senior Living is committed to helping you live a full, rich life. Schedule a tour today to learn more about our wellness programs, active and engaged lifestyle and healthy dining options.