I’m an MD, and These Are My 4 Pillars for Increased Longevity
As an integrative physician and the founder of Synergistiq Wellness, I focus on being proactive with health and wellness and I teach my patients ways to act preventatively so they can improve their ability to live a long, healthy life. In my professional opinion, in order for us to reach our maximum potential as we age, we must adhere to these four pillars of a healthy lifestyle: eating a clean diet, getting enough exercise, enjoying restorative sleep, and reducing stress levels. Just like the four wheels on a car, these pillars should be well-balanced to ensure a smooth ride through life.
1. Eat anti-inflammatory foods — and avoid inflammatory ones
Food can be your medicine or your poison: it’s your choice. Consuming a diet that is anti-inflammatory and devoid of processed foods, refined sugars, and excess meat and dairy will keep your immunity robust, hormones balanced, and micronutrients at optimal levels. My favorite foods to boost cellular health and slow down the aging process include lentils and legumes, gluten-free grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and Ayurvedic herbs and spices. These spices include turmeric, black cumin, neem, amla, moringa, and fenugreek, along with onions, garlic, and ginger. Fun fact: many of these ingredients are the foundation for curry masala in Indian cooking, which is known to confer immense anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic benefits. Intermittent fasting is also key in the anti-aging/longevity process.
2. Exercise and physical activity is crucial for brain and body health
Studies have shown that those who engage in physical activity at least three to four times a week can improve their longevity by actually preventing the shortening of telomeres, which are the endcaps on DNA. As we age, telomeres shorten and get frayed, thus making DNA susceptible to oxidative damage and inflammation. In my professional opinion, inflammation is the root cause of all evil in the body.
3. Restorative sleep is critical
Sleep is underrated. Teenagers, for instance, should strive for at least 10 hours of sleep. Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep, and here’s the kicker: it needs to be restful sleep. Laying in bed for eight hours tossing and turning and getting up multiple times to urinate is not considered restful. Sleep is the time when we allow our body to shut down so it can repair and regenerate. We go into a semi-comatose state to let the body engage in a healing mode from damages incurred when we are awake.
4. Learn how to effectively manage stress
Stress is the precursor to inflammation and affects us mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually. These aspects of life are crucial to overall well-being, and I encourage my patients not to be embarrassed to discuss any of them with their physician. I believe that our personal and professional lives should seamlessly transition, and part of that balance is to find hobbies that can relieve your stress. My favorite stress-busters are meditation, dance, music, travel, and reading. Find what makes you happy and set time aside every day to do it.
I encourage you to take the four pillars and strive to address each one daily. Set realistic goals, and be conscious of your habits and how they may affect your overall health. Age is just a number: keep your spirit youthful and longevity will follow.
Deepa Verma, MD, AIHM, is a double board certified MD specializing in integrative and anti-aging medicine, and the founder of Synergistiq Wellness. You can follow her on Instagram @drdeepavermamd and @synergistiqwellness.
Read next: 25 Healthy Ways to Fight Inflammation
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