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More and more people live to be 100 years old. The average life expectancy at birth in the United States is about 76 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But even though we’ll probably live to a later age than our grandparents’ generation, that doesn’t mean we’re healthier than them.
“It’s between four and eight years that we live longer than our grandparents,” says Greg Macpherson, cellular health expert and founder of SRW Laboratories, a biotechnology company.
“People generally live longer and we generally lose fewer people earlier. And those two things work together to increase (lifespan).”
Macpherson is also the author of the book “Harnessing the Nine Hallmarks of Aging”.
It turns out that our “lifespan” just doesn’t keep up with our “lifespan,” adds Macpherson.
Lifespan is the number of years you live from birth to death, while lifespan is the length of time you live in good health without any problems.
“We’re living longer, but we kind of go through the last 25% of our lives with some form of health issue,” Macpherson said.
About 65% of people over 60 live with multiple health conditions, he adds.
Here’s why Macpherson says our life expectancy isn’t increasing at the same rate as our life expectancy. Plus, seven ways to extend the healthiest years of your life.
The biggest problem for our health is the reliance on medicine to fix health problems after they’ve already happened, rather than prioritizing prevention, Macpherson says.
Our healthcare system has “a pay-as-you-go model, where you get sick (and) you go to the doctor,” he says.
“But what people are realizing now is like we take our cars for maintenance every six months, because if we don’t it’s dangerous and it can be very expensive, we have to turn towards preventive health care.
Lifespan increases because we have newer and more advanced technology and medicines than were available when our grandparents were our age, adds Macpherson.
“If a quarter of the world’s population is over 60 in 2050 and we’re all sick, it’s going to be very expensive,” he says. “I hope things will change, but at the moment we don’t have the capacity to deal with it.”
Here are some practices that Macpherson encourages to add more years to your health.
- Don’t jump to catch up with your doctor. Check in regularly and have blood tests annually to check for any potential health issues.
- Ditch the sugar. “We cause a lot of problems for our body when it has to deal with too much sugar, and it ages us and affects our health,” he says.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Stick to a Mediterranean or plant-based diet, with meat occasionally for extra protein.
- Sit less: “Sitting is bad, standing is good,” so consider a standing desk while you work, he suggests.
- Exercise often. Walk every day if that’s all you can handle, but aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day.
- Remember to hydrate yourself. “Generally healthy people” should drink four to six glasses of water every day, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Consult your doctor if you are unsure of how much water you should drink daily.
- Practice gratitude and mindfulness. “I think gratitude, mindfulness, and a great social circle can add years, even a decade to your life,” Macpherson says.
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