How to Stay Young

Stay Young and Love Life

Forget the mythical fountain of youth. Science has brought us three reliable answers to the often-asked question: ‘How do you stay young?’.

The importance of staying young

The motivation to slow the process of aging – to keep healthy, active, and happy even as decades pass – is different for everyone.

One person may want to stay youthful so they can travel to unexplored places in their retirement, while another might want to stay younger longer so they can continue to live independently in a wild and beautiful, yet remote, home.

Underlying all the myriad personal reasons for staying young there is usually a single driving factor – quality of life. Most of us want to continue feeling, looking, and acting young so we can experience life at its best.

Remaining youthful is everybody’s passport to a life that fulfils its boldest potential.

As well as warding off diseases of aging that can make the world feel like its shrinking, keeping your body young means there is more time to reach out and embrace opportunity.

More years and better health can create the space for new dreams and goals – from playing with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to winning a Nobel Prize at 85-years-old, or even water-skiing on your 100th birthday.

How to stay young naturally

Contemporary health and medical researchers are constantly identifying new methods that might help you to stay young-looking or help keep your body and brain active longer.

From among the multitudes of advice and information, there are three natural and achievable changes that are reliably cited as among the most effective ways to remain younger longer.

           #1 – Nutrition.

Eating better – whether that be through the Mediterranean Diet, intermittent fasting, or by restricting calories – has a profound anti-aging effect. Changing the food you eat can protect you from life-shortening conditions like diabetes and heart disease, while also improving energy levels and mental health.   

           #2 – Exercise.

Getting active has been shown to have more positive health benefits than any other single intervention. Exercise can help keep your body young by reducing the effects of conditions like arthritis, guarding against fractures, improving chronic pain, and maximising quality of life by tackling depression and anxiety.   

           #3 – Mindfulness.

When practiced routinely, mindfulness has a proven effect on a range of health conditions that can significantly reduce lifespan – including mental health, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke – and it can help solve complex and multi-layered lifestyle problems like insomnia.

Practical advice to keep your body young (and your mind too!)

Fit4100’s articles bring you up-to-date breakthroughs, tips, and information on how to stay youthful. 

Explore the archive to find ideas that work for you, or try one of these easy suggestions to get started:

  • Add a new daily exercise to your routine. This could be a simple 30 minutes of walking, or something a little more adventurous like Pilates.
  • Experiment with introducing the 16:8 intermittent fasting diet to your day by extending your regular food-free window by two hours. This might mean that if you usually eat between the hours of 7am and 9pm, you don’t begin eating until 9am instead.  

Intermittent Fasting Benefits

Intermittent Fasting 101

Intermittent Fasting studies have been conducted for decades. The volume of information about the dietary intervention can be confusing, but a recent academic review published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) brings much-needed clarity.

In the review, the authors analyse a proliferation of Intermittent Fasting research. Their conclusions show that there are broad health benefits of fasting that could be associated with longevity and anti-aging.

In this article, Fit4100 takes a deeper look at the findings.

What is Intermittent Fasting (also known as IF)?

Sometimes it can seem like Intermittent Fasting’s meaning is blurred because there are so many different methods recommended by various experts. Some popular examples of Intermittent Fasting techniques are the 5:2 diet, the 16/8 fasting method, and alternative-day fasting.

Because fasting can be approached in so many different ways, it’s most accurate to think of Intermittent Fasting as an umbrella term that describes a dietary intervention involving limits on when you eat.

The NEJM review authors analysed evidence on the effects of Intermittent Fasting generally – their pool of research included studies that dealt with all the versions of IF mentioned above.

What happens to the body during Intermittent Fasting?

Regardless of what specific fasting method you use, the purpose of Intermittent Fasting is to trigger a physiological process called a metabolic switch.

When food is eaten regularly and often, the body uses glucose from that food for energy. Research shows that after 8-12 hours of fasting, the body switches to a new fuel source. The liver begins to convert fatty acids into ketones and these ketones are used to power the body’s tissues – including the brain.

This change can trigger weight loss, as it allows stored fat to be burned off as energy. But, the authors of the NEJM review say that weight loss is not the most important result of metabolic switching:

“Ketone bodies are not just fuel used during periods of fasting; they are potent signaling molecules with major effects on cell and organ functions. Ketone bodies regulate the expression and activity of many proteins and molecules that are known to influence health and aging.”

This is the core of Intermittent Fasting science; when fasting occurs regularly, the metabolic switch triggers a series of positive changes in the body. Among these changes are decreases in insulin resistance and inflammation, and improvements in heart rate and blood pressure – all of which are important for reducing the risk of multiple life-shortening diseases.

What are the health benefits of Intermittent Fasting?                                                                                            

In the NEJM article the authors review Intermittent Fasting research and outline key proven Intermittent Fasting benefits. Below is a selection of those most relevant to longevity –

Intermittent Fasting and diabetes

Animal studies have shown that fasting can result in less obesity and insulin resistance – both risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes. Research in Okinawa, where the population typically eats in an intermittent fasting pattern, also reveals low rates of diabetes. Further information about IF and and Type 2 Diabetes can be found here.

Intermittent Fasting and cardiovascular disease

The study’s authors state that, “Intermittent fasting improves multiple indicators of cardiovascular health in animals and humans”. Among the listed benefits of fasting are positive changes in blood pressure, resting heart rate, cholesterol, glucose, and markers of systemic inflammation.

Intermittent Fasting and cancer

This is another area where human trials are in the early stages, but animal trials have shown consistent positive results from Intermittent Fasting – including reduction in the spontaneous occurrence of tumours and suppression of tumour growth. There are tentative positive signs in human studies, with multiple case studies of patients with glioblastoma suggesting that “intermittent fasting can suppress tumor growth and extend survival”.

Are there Intermittent Fasting side effects?

The article’s authors warn that “on switching to an intermittent-fasting regimen, many people will experience hunger, irritability, and a reduced ability to concentrate during periods of food restriction”.

But the article goes on to state that “these initial side effects usually disappear within 1 month”.

Anyone considering Intermittent Fasting should discuss it with their doctor before beginning. This is important for everyone, but especially relevant to those on regular medications that might require adjustment.

Intermittent Fasting and Type 2 Diabetes

The evidence behind intermittent fasting as a treatment for Type 2 Diabetes and what it means for you.

Since Michael Mosley super-charged the world’s awareness of Intermittent Fasting (IF) in 2012 with his TV series Eat, Fast and Live Longer, the diet has been steadily gaining popularity.

Eat and Fast For Type 2 Diabetes

But Intermittent Fasting is more than another nutrition craze. Slowly, research is mounting to show the method can be used to manage serious life-threatening and life-shortening diseases, including Type 2 Diabetes.

How Intermittent Fasting works for Type 2 Diabetes

The underlying cause of Type 2 Diabetes is insulin resistance. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and its role is to transfer sugars from the blood and into the tissues, where it can be used as fuel or stored as fat.

For many people with Type 2 Diabetes, this process does not work efficiently, resulting in the body producing more insulin while blood sugar continues to climb. The ongoing production of higher levels of insulin creates even greater resistance to it, often resulting in Type 2 Diabetes getting progressively worse over time.

Most traditional Diabetes treatments and medications focus on reducing blood sugar levels, but some experts argue this addresses only the symptom of the disease, but not the cause.

Advocates of Intermittent Fasting as a treatment for Type 2 Diabetes say the method treats both symptom and cause. Fasting periods trigger a series of changes in the body that allow insulin levels and blood sugar levels to simultaneously reduce. Intermittent Fasting proponent Dr Jason Fung explains the process in this short video and this more in-depth video.

The evidence of the benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Type 2 Diabetes

Intermittent Fasting is a relatively new intervention for Type 2 Diabetes and the research behind it is qualified, but hopeful.

Anecdotal evidence tells of Type 2 Diabetes patients making significant improvements using IF – with some people no longer requiring medications and others ridding themselves of all signs of the disease.

The scientific evidence is more cautious, but still shows tentative positive results.

In a 2018 case study and a 2017 pilot study, strong improvements were shown in patients using Intermittent Fasting to tackle Type 2 Diabetes, but the authors caution that further research – with larger sample sizes and over a longer period of time – are needed.

A systematic review from 2020 compares Intermittent Fasting with a consistent low energy diet and finds that both are effective in patients with Type 2 Diabetes, although the researchers go on to stress that the link between IF and remission needs further investigation.

This 2019 in-depth review article is also encouraging. It was analysed by Harvard Medical School’s Dr Monique Tello – who is skeptical of IF’s superiority as a diabetes treatment – but still says this article provides evidence of IF as “a more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss, as well as for diabetes prevention”.

What does the research mean if you have Type 2 Diabetes?

These early results indicate that Intermittent Fasting can be useful to treat and prevent Type 2 Diabetes, but it’s important that you choose an intervention that is sustainable and realistic for you.

All health treatment is personal. If you think IF might work for you, get started by following these steps:

1) Talk to your doctor about whether intermittent fasting is safe for you.

This is important for everyone, but especially if you have Type 2 Diabetes as you may need your medication adjusted and require close monitoring to guard against the possibility of low blood sugar incidents.

2) Choose between the different types of intermittent fasting.

Some popular variations are the 5:2 diet, the 16/8 diet, or the Circadian Rhythm fasting method.

Some recent research shows the Circadian method – which involves limiting eating to a 6 to 10-hour window during the daylight hours of each 24-hour cycle – may be more sustainable and effective.

3) Pair Intermittent Fasting with good nutrition.

Many experts encourage those with Type 2 Diabetes to follow a low-carb diet that includes plentiful fats, vegetables and proteins. The Mediterranean Diet is an often-cited and easy to understand example, and IF advocates like Dr Jason Fung encourage patients to pair their fasting with this kind of nutrition.   

Beginners Guide to Mindfulness

Practice the single habit that can unlock the powerful secrets of anti-aging. Mindfulness improves your mental and physical health and gives you the skills needed to make change for a longer and happier life.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a seemingly simple habit. It involves being ‘present’ in the moment – aware of what is going on around you, what you are thinking about, and how you are feeling.

This deceptively straightforward practice is immensely powerful. By connecting you simultaneously to the world around you and your inner dialogue, mindfulness allows you to make the most of your life.

Mindfulness helps you fully revel in the positive moments, and – in difficult moments – it enables you to be considered in your response.

Mindfulness has been proven to result in less stress; improve decision-making; and to reduce the risk of serious health conditions including anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

It is also a toolkit that allows you to take control of your choices – helping you stick to your nutrition or exercise plan, instead of making snap decisions that you might regret later.   

But the ability to be mindful takes practice. You can develop your skills using techniques like meditation and can become proficient quickly through short sessions of regular concentration.

Use our quick guide to get started.

Three easy steps to mindfulness for beginners

1) Set aside two minutes every day

For those starting out with mindfulness, a short meditation session without distractions is the best introduction. Find somewhere you feel comfortable and where you won’t be disturbed and give yourself two minutes each day to focus on being mindful.

2) Use those two minutes to create awareness

In your daily session, begin by paying attention to your breathing. As you follow each inhale and exhale, consider how your body feels and be aware of how your mind is behaving. If your mind is wandering to other subjects – which it will – don’t feel frustrated or judgmental of yourself, just practice bringing your attention back to your breath.

Once you have had plenty of practice and feel comfortable with your ability to maintain awareness of your breath, you can begin allowing yourself to be curious about other thoughts that occur to you during your daily practice.

Mindfulness is not about strictly de-cluttering your mind, it is about how to wield your awareness in a productive and helpful way. Gently placing focus on these thoughts can offer deeper insight into your own thinking.

3) Begin transferring this skill to everyday tasks

Introduce mindfulness in your wider life by picking a few daily tasks during which you can be mindful.

While washing the dishes or brushing your teeth, practice the awareness skills you have learned. Think about the activity you are doing and focus on how your body and mind feel, pay attention to how your mind wanders, and bring your thoughts back to the present moment.

Over time, you will be able to bring full focus to these tasks, turning them from necessary chores to islands of calm in your day. With even further practice, you’ll be able to call upon these techniques in moments of stress to prevent feelings of being overwhelmed and to help you work through difficult situations.