Longevity - What We Mean When We Talk About It

Longevity - What We Mean When We Talk About It

At the risk of stating the obvious, the fundamental goal characterizing human action can be boiled down to our quest to live longer, better lives. As Virgil said, “the greatest wealth is health.” Or, put in slightly more modern terms, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” (Jim Rohn)

The base concept is this. We aren’t just trying to extend our years, but to extend our health: to be able to enjoy more, for a longer period of time. This is what longevity is all about, and it’s no surprise that there is so much interest and research into it. After all, if it was possible to know the exact selection of food and fitness practices we could incorporate into our life today that maximise the likelihood of us living a long, healthy life, wouldn’t we all ‘kill’ for it? When you see forty-something year olds running up mountains, downing foul-looking green drinks, or knocking back twenty herbal supplements, aren’t they doing this for the same reason–to extend the shelf life of a healthy, enjoyable life?

The world of averages

The truth is that until now, we’ve lived somewhere in between no knowledge and highly useful knowledge. Medicine knows a lot about which nutrition and fitness interventions have been shown to impact longevity (most famously cataloged in the ‘blue zones’ body of research and a few others as detailed below), but are stuck with data based around what works on average. In other words, within these studies there is a large range of responses – some people experience a very high response to a given practice, while others experience little to no response.

What trickles down to the everyday health-minded consumer through Big Wellness headlines are one-size-fits-all solutions. We should all have a glass of red wine every night. We should all incorporate more fish into our diets. We should all drink Reishi tea. But the truth isn’t that simple.

The reality is that each of us responds differently (with more or less effectiveness) to different ‘objectively healthy’ practices. By testing out and discovering which practices have the highest impact for us, as individuals, we can maximize our ROI by building a custom set of habits well suited to our bodies, while letting go of those that don’t pay off.

Popular longevity concepts

The Mediterranean diet

This diet is renowned for its contribution to long life expectancy and lower rates of cardiovascular diseases. It emphasizes consumption of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish, with moderate intake of dairy and (red) wine, and minimal consumption of red meat. The Mediterranean diet is often studied for its benefits on health and longevity.

The Okinawa diet

Originating from one of the Blue Zones in Okinawa, Japan, this diet is noted for its potential to contribute to long health and lifespan. It is low in calories yet rich in nutrients, focusing on sweet potatoes, green vegetables, and soy products, with minimal meat and refined sugars.

Caloric restriction

Caloric restriction is the practice of reducing calorie intake without malnutrition, recently (re)popularized by Bryan Johnson. Research in various species has shown that caloric restriction can extend lifespan and delay the onset of age-related diseases. It's considered one of the most robust methods of extending life span and improving health during aging.

Intermittent fasting

This involves alternating cycles of eating and fasting. It is believed to result in several biological benefits, such as improved metabolic health, increased resistance to disease, and possibly longer lifespan. One of the most popular variants is the 16/8 method, where eating is confined to an 8-hour window each day.

The Nordic diet

Similar to the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet emphasizes whole grains, oily fish, root vegetables, and legumes, along with a high intake of fruit and vegetables. It's known for its benefits on heart health and longevity, and is characterized by foods typically available in the Nordic countries. 

The French paradox

This concept refers to the observation that French people have a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease, despite having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats such as butter. The paradox is thought to possibly be explained by the regular consumption of red wine and lifestyle factors that contribute to better overall health and longevity.

Physical activity

Regular physical activity is universally accepted as a critical component of a healthy lifestyle that promotes longevity. Active lifestyles that incorporate daily exercise, such as walking, cycling, aerobic activities, and weight training are associated with extended life expectancy.

Mindfulness and stress reduction

Techniques like meditation, yoga, and other mindfulness practices are recognized for their benefits in reducing stress and promoting a longer, healthier life. Chronic stress is linked to numerous health problems, and managing stress is considered essential for promoting longevity.

While these various longevity concepts offer frameworks for extending lifespan and improving health, it's crucial to recognize that they are not one-size-fits-all strategies. Individual responses to different diets and lifestyle practices can vary significantly. To truly optimize personal longevity and healthspan, it's essential to track your own health data and monitor how each practice affects you personally. By doing so, you can tailor these concepts to better suit your unique physiological needs and lifestyle preferences, ensuring the best possible outcomes for your long-term health and well-being.

Rapid lifestyle prototyping

The gold-standard for assessing change (what we’re looking for as the result of integrating new lifestyle practices) is blood. That’s why we’ve utilized a well proven biomarker of inflammation, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and applied it into a new space: at home, rapid-testing of nutrition and fitness practices through a small blood sample, collected each week. There is a need to rapid-test nutrition and fitness practices to see how your own body will respond to them, to let you decide to keep doing them or not. This is largely the quest of the burgeoning field of digital health. But while blood has long been looked to as the “gold standard” for assessing health in medicine, it is not yet used in a consumer-led, weekly, entirely in-home process of “rapid lifestyle prototyping”. COR changes that.

Our incredibly compact, highly accurate, and personalized way of discovering high-impact lifestyle practices, the COR One, promises to entirely rewire the way people think about and integrate their quest for longevity into day to day life. COR moves far beyond wearables or general principles to deep, personalized feedback. This is a brave new world, and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of this space.

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