Science tells us that by the time you are about 60 years old, 75 percent of your health outcomes are determined by your choices. That’s genetic self-engineering: Each healthy act switches on youth-promoting genes and switches off genes that cause you to age. This process is the result of millions of years of evolution. Good choices (and the proteins that are developed because of them) beget more good proteins, and the activation of bad genes begets more bad and destructive genes being turned on.
In the United States about 40 percent of premature deaths—defined as occurring before age 75—are related to lifestyle choices, behaviors we can change. Lifestyle and genetics are intertwined, in that your lifestyle choices influence the ways that many of your genes function—and thus how your body functions.
Studies of human gene expression show that if you choose to make certain lifestyle changes, you can influence whether your genes are “on” or “off.” In fact, your choices can influence an estimated 1,200 of the 1,500 genes that are on and probably can influence the other estimated 21,000 that are off.
For example, after implementing changes to their physical activity, stress management, and diet regimens, men were able to turn off genes associated with prostate cancer growth and turn on a gene that produced a protein that causes cancer cells to self-destruct. The same principle applies for colon and breast cancer: Lifestyle changes switched on genes that fought cancer and turned off genes that promoted it.
You have the ability to change how your body works and reacts—and ultimately how healthy you are and how long you may live by making lifestyle choices.
Healthy choices will help prevent chronic disease and set you up for a long life. The better your physical shape, the higher the chances that new anti-aging procedures will “take” at a high level, with fewer complications. Stronger at the start means stronger throughout the entire race and all the way to the finish.
*SIX KEY INDICATORS OF GOOD HEALTH
• BMI (a measurement of height-to-weight ratio) of less than 27 or, better, a waist-to-height ratio of 0.40 to 0.55
• LDL cholesterol (a risk factor for heart disease) of less than 70 mg/dL
• Fasting blood sugar (associated with diabetes) of less than 106 mg/dL
• Urine free of cotinine (an indicator of tobacco use)
• Completion of a stress management program
Making lifestyle changes to achieve these indicators is within your ability. If you want to reach maximum longevity, the rest is up to you.