Everyone of us wants to live a longer and more prosperous life.
The human body, however, is perishable by nature. At least within in the next century until science has solved this problem of human kind as well.
Now, during our lifetime everyone of has two options: accept death or fight it.
You can pursue a longer and prosperous life or ignore the fact that modern science, and some simple changes in our daily routines, offer us now, at this very point in time, the ability to prolong our lives – with little effort. You start fighting death.
Unfortunately, the natural tendency among many is to seek momentary joy, accepting societal standards and not questioning how long we should sleep, eat, consume or how much time we spend on physical and mental health.
Most people place success, in terms of financial gain and status, over success in terms of physical and mental health. In the end, success is a personal definition.
The first step to a healthier and longer life: Assessing the Status Quo
To improve anything one must start by measuring the status quo. As in learning for an exam you must assess what you already know, what you should know and how to get there. Here is what you should know: 5 key areas dominantly influence your overall health:
- Mental Health
As humans we determine each day how much importance we place on each of them.
10 reasons why you will die
To most of us its clear that nutrition and exercise is good for our body and that it will have a good effect our longevity.
However, mental health, sleep or supplements? I mean, is this real?
If you look at the facts and you are in my age group 15-34, you will most likely die because you have an accident, kill yourself or get shot.
Still wondering if mental health is critical? Alzheimer´s disease is the fifths most important reason why you die in your 65+. Want to learn more? Read: The Alzheimer’s solution.
So, yes – mental health is critical.
Now, what about sleep? The second most doubtful criteria on the list, right? Or why do people still keep score how works the most and sleeps the least?
Sleep deprivation and cancer risk are highly correlated.
In the later stages of your life, your sleep will reduce the risk of the leading causes of death.
More sleep –> lower probability of cancer –> longer life.
So by now you should ask yourself, how can I influence my sleep and mental health. So, let´s get into it.
Number One: Sleep
The average human being needs around 7-8 hours of sleep.
However, in the last decade, the amount of sleep we receive has fallen below this threshold.
Americans currently sleep 6.8 hours of sleep at night whereas in 1942 the average American slept 7.8 hours a day.
That’s a whole hour less! In Germany 42% receive less than 7 hours of sleep per night. Only 16% receive 8h or more sleep.
But, the quantity of sleep is not the only factor.
Equally important is the quality we receive.
Our modern lifestyles involving smartphones and computers, fast food, alcohol and unstable sleep cycles worsen our sleep even further. A goodnights sleep, however, is the main contributor to increase your focus, output efficiency and effectiveness.
To give you an idea think about the last time you were driving your car being tired.
According to the ADAC (Germany´s largest automobile club), sleep deprivation is one of the largest risk factors for accidents. Your abilities, going 17h without sleep, are equal to a blood alcohol level of 0.5.
24h without sleep equal driving with a blood alcohol content of 1.0. In Germany the maximum blood alcohol content to drive a car is 0.5. So, yes again, this is dangerous unless you are a superhero and can´t get hurt.
Factors affecting quality of sleep:
- Alcohol & caffeine consumption
- Light exposure (the brightness of your bedroom)
- Blue light exposure (Light with the shortest wavelengths emitted by smartphones, computers, etc.)
- Sound exposure
- Sleep cycles
- Pre-bedtime relaxation
- Right mattress and pillow
How do you track your sleep?
There exist many sleep trackers like FitBit or Beddit. Personally I use the Oura ring, which measures your sleep by body temperature, movement and a Photoplethysmogram (measures the blood pulse volume from the arteries on the palm side of the finger with infrared LEDs). It’s supposed to have the highest accuracy and far more accurate than any wristbands.
The goal is to sleep longer and better (2h+ REM sleep everyday).
Steps to improve sleep:
- No caffeine consumption after 3 p.m. (tee or coffee)
- Try using dark curtains or a sleep mask, tap any LED or lights of electronic devices
- Use earplugs, noise-cancelling headphones and/or sound mitigation devices (marpac dohm ds link).
- No sports 2h before sleep
- Sticking to a sleep schedule
- Use blue light reduction glasses (Gunnar) and/or flux.An App that adapts the colour of your computer’s display to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. Alternatively, buy lights that do not emit blue light.
- Chilipad or Bedjet to regulate temperature. The best temperature to sleep is between 18°-22° Celsius with a humidity of around 40%.
- Use sheets and blankets that regulate temperature e.g. organic cotton sheets
- Meditation, autogenic training or fiction reading to relax before bed
- Sleep music playlist spotify & light reduction
- Natural wake-up lights (Philips smart lights)
- Air ionizers, air filtering and air humidity devices or plants
Supplements are part of a growth mindset. Our bodies are exposed to stress everyday. Receiving all the necessary ingredients to cope with this stress is a difficulty process. Every one of us some weakness, that’s just human. In my opinion supplements provide us with the ability to provide our bodies with the material that is lacking. Supplements that have shown to improve sleep include:
- Magnesium citrate
See further detail in advanced section.
The industrialization and creation of processed food made us consume more sugar than ever before. Before the industrialization humans consumed on average around 5 grams of sugar per day or around 1,8 kilo of sugar per year.
The sources of the sugar were mainly vegetables and fruits.
Today sugar is often hidden under such names as glucose, fructose, honey, sucrose or corn syrup. US citizens consume more than 126g per day, meaning 25 times the amount they consumed before the industrialization.
As German, I always look at the US and think: Sure, they eat unhealthy, they consume the most sugar in the world, they drink all the sodas, eat all the fast food, we don’t do that.
Turns out that Germany is second in line.
With an average sugar consumption of 102.9g per day we are the second highest sugar-consuming nation in the world.
The WHO recommends a daily limit of 25 grams, to feel any health benefits the sugar intake should lie below 11 grams according to the WHO.
Source: Johnson RJ, et al. Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007.
In contrast the amount of vegetables we consume has dropped from 60 kg (130lb) to 5kg (11lb) per year.
What makes us sick is the wrong nutrition, smoking, no exercise, stress, little sleep, little mental activity like a not challenging jobs and no social activities.
Optimal nutrition is an easy access point to start living a longer and healthy live. The reduction of sugar is one important step in doing so.
To replace sugar (the snacks in between) start with saturated fats like nuts, seeds, avocados or olives. A study found that a plant-based diet, free of eggs and dairy had less risk of obesity and Alzheimer’s.
What you should eat or eat more of:
- Avocado, artichoke, beans, beetroot, berries (e.g. blueberries), chia seeds, dark chocolate, fruits (not fruit juice), herbs (coriander, dill, rosemary), linseed, mushrooms, nuts, olive oil, quinoa, seed, spices, sweet potatoes, tea (mint, lemon, balm, hibiscus), turmeric (curcumin), wholegrain, vegetables (kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, spinach, celery).
What you should not eat or eat less of:
- Chicken, cheese, dairy, butter, eggs, fast food, fried food, fruit juice, processed foods (ready packed meals), processed meats (bacon, sausages), red meat, pastries, sugary drinks. Alcohol.
Nonetheless, every human being is unique and even though there exists general good and bad foods, its up to your body what is good and bad for you. Eating the wrong food increases inflammation in your body and will damage your health in the long term.
In Germany over 20 million people suffer from allergies, however, only half of them now about their allergies, the other half simply feels sick sometimes.
The good thing is that nowadays you can find out which foods are good for you and which not. In general, allergenic are either inhaled or consumed through food. The most common food allergies are lactose, fructose, gluten, sorbitol and histamine.
How do you track it your food?
- Food intolerances (lactose, fructose, gluten, sorbitol and histamine) can easily be measured with hydrogen breath tests or blood test. In Germany your public health insurance will cover these.
- AllergoScreen, including IgE & IgG measurements, tests your body for allergies of weed, herb, and specific foods. Prick-Tests can be an alternative.
- Medivere can test your microbiome (the micro bacteria in your gut). Turns out that our gut is far more important than we think. The human body consists of a genome of 25.000 genes and your microbiome (140 fold human genome).
- Vitamin blood testing. Test your blood for common deficiencies like vitamin B12, D, K2 as well as minerals calcium, magnesium, omega 3.
- 23andME: Offer DNA Testing. Our DNA determines the likelihood to be gluten intolerant, to get Alzheimer, the risk of heart disease and many more diseases.
Steps to improve:
- Knowing what foods are good for you.
- Eat more of the foods that are good for you, plus eating healthy (see above).
- Fill up your lacks of vitamins and minerals
- Learning about the benefits of intermittent fasting (fasting for 16-20H) & kestosis (your body starts consuming fat instead of glycine)
- Resetting your body, immune system, genes by fasting 3 days, 5 days or more.
- Prebiotics: Prebiotics are fermentable fibers that are not digested from our stomach right way. They proceed to your intestines and are to “food” of probiotics. Prebiotics include: Onions, leeks, radishes, carrots, seeds (flax and chia), tomatoes, bananas, garlic, chicory, dandelion green, artichoke, jicama, asparagous, yams, barley, sweet potatos, cabbage
- Probiotics (lactobacilli and bifidobacteria): Probiotics are the living bacteria that naturally exist in your gut. Usually they are created by the fermentation in foods like yogurt.
- Gut permeability: Your intestines have a shield to protect you from the bad bacteria, food allergies, etc. In modern research there exists stronger evidence that your gut permeability is response for illnesses and allergies since once damaged it leaves all the bad things get into your blood. (Fix it with l-glutamine, & synerga)
- Vitamin D, K2, B12, Calcium, Magnesium, Omega 3 (DHA/EPA). The most common lacking supplements.
Training the body and the mind should go hand in hand.
In Germany, however, only 15% of women use any form of training the mind. Men even less.
Meditation has shown to provide a large amount of benefits ranging from less anxiety, depression, blood pressure reduction, increased emotional health, and lower stress level to aged-reduced memory loss.
Training the mind comes in many forms.
Why one starts a journal is very different. You can use it to empty your mind before going to bed and enjoy better sleep. You can use it to discover what you believe in, to write down valuable advice from your mentors, family, friends and collegue.
Or you simply use it so get all the BS out of your head and reflect on what you wrote after a couple of months. Write about your activities, fears, goals and decision that you will take each day. A journal will move you forward.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote a book about experiencing a state called “flow state“, in which you don’t even realize that your are still working. I think the best examples are programmers that are so focused that you will forget to eat to finish the last line of code before going home.
“A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.“
Being able to put yourself in a flow state or in colloquial word “into the zone“ is a great mental exercise and will increase your performance.
Most people meditate in the mornings or at night. I use an app called OAK, which is free to use and offers guided meditations ranging from 10-30 minutes.
It’s an easy starter.
Try it out for a few weeks and experience the benefits of meditations.
Breath walking is a mixture of meditation, walking and focusing your breath. You breathe in certain rhythms deeply in, hold the breath and breathe out. You can use it everywhere, anytime. When you feel stressed or are walking to your work in the morning. It will provide you with energy and focus. The Oak app has 3 even breathing exercises including, which you can use to start practicing.
Practicing complex activities
Over minds are shaped by new experiences and activities every day. Providing it with work and exercise prevents mental diseases as Alzheimer.
New languages, music, instruments, programming, article, dancing, making stuff, carfts, drawing, painting, sculpting, mentoring, card games, cheses blub,
There exist several supplements/drugs to increase mental performance or the state of mind. Some include MDMA, metformin, Ioaska, …. I am not recommending using any of them and am not a doctor. So read upon them yourself and decide what to do.
Steps to improve:
- Use a form of meditation, download a meditation app, right now à
- Showering with cold water
- Start a journal
- Training your mind with new ideas and activities
I like watching sports. The results motivate me and keep me going.
- Reduces stress
- Strengthens muscles and bones, cardiovascular and pulmonary system
- Increases your ability to learn and remember
- Prevents diabetes and overweight
- Reduces the risk of depression and strengthens your social circle
- Plus, plus, plus, …..
A healthy mind in a healthy body is the ultimate frontier. The natural feeling of high you get during sports has benefits for your body and your mind. So why not integrate exercise in our daily habits?
Integrate exercise in your daily habits. Seriously.
Start by walking or driving by bike to your office or using a standing desk.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Training
High Intensity Training is a quick win for your health. It doesn’t take longer than 20 minutes 2-3 times a week to get you fit.
You can go for a run or quick bike ride. How does it work?
You start by warming up, cycling or running gentle for a few minutes. Then go flat out for 20-30 seconds. Recover for 2-3 minutes and then another 20-30 seconds all out. Repeat that for 4-5 times. 5 minutes to cool off. That’s it.
It is quick and efficient.
I try to go 2–3x a week to the gym. Living or working close to the gym helps me a lot. I do 10 minutes warm-up, 45 min exercise and 10 minutes sauna afterwards. I need the sauna afterwards to get a feeling of some kind of reward. One last tip for your gym work-out:
- Start by training the large muscle groups, continue in order of declining size.
Focusing on your sleep, nutrition, exercise, mental health and adding some supplements to your daily routine will increase the time you spent on this planet. Or at least, increase the chance of you living longer.
Decide for yourself to adapt your behavior to pursue a longer and prosperous life or not act on the fact that modern science and some simple changes in our daily routines offer us now.
This section covers interesting concepts and practices, which I want to learn more about, try and might discuss in a following article.
- Ketosis: Using Precision Xtra to measure ketone levels.
- Lithium: Supposed prolongs our lifes.
- Heavy metals: How they influence our health. How to get rid off them. Quicksilver is one of them that have been used in amalgam fillings and constantly release toxins in your body.
- Dynamic sequential compression
- Micro doses of melatonin
- Potassium citrate
Any other recommendations?