The answer is yes but knowledge is power and it’s just part of the equation. Scientists can now identify many different traits embedded in our DNA that influence the way we age all the way down to a cellular level. Traits such as sun sensitivity, sleep duration and systemic inflammation play a huge role in not only how long we live (our longevity) but how healthy we live. Health span is the new life span and it should be.
We are warned about the damaging effects of the sun but then on the other hand, we hear that we need sunlight so that we get enough vitamin D because it’s paramount for optimum wellness. Both are actually true, but how much is too much? Functional medicine doctors and wellness experts say about 10-15 minutes a day of sunlight is enough to get the recommended amount adults need. Sunlight lasts longer in the body than Vitamin D taken in supplement form. But of course, that doesn’t mean you need the sun when it’s at its strongest mid-day especially if your fair skinned. Good food sources are oily fish, egg yolks and fortified dairy.
As far as sleep, we have all heard about this over and over again. First it was the smart watches with a sleep tracking function and now it’s the Oura Ring which touts it’s the most accurate sleep and activity tracker on the market. It measures the physiological signals of your body, it understands your lifestyle, it guides you to make positive daily choices. If a smart device helps you achieve even a small percentage of your goal towards the best “you” that you can be, then we are all for it. 7 to 8 hours of restorative sleep each night is recommended if you implement habits that are conducive to good sleep. Every extra step, every extra minute of sleep can all contribute towards your well-being long term.
Important genetic trait
Another extremely important genetic trait to understand is the predisposition to systemic inflammation. The many people that have heard me talk about this, have heard it over and over again. IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT! There are so many lifestyle factors that can contribute to this. Even if you have the genetic variant linked to this, YOU can change it. It all comes back to diet and a few other main things. The first thing you need to do is ask your doctor to check your hs-CRP. The high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) test, which is more sensitive than a standard test and most likely won’t be one your doctor orders without you asking. It is used to evaluate your risk of developing coronary artery disease, a condition in which the arteries of your heart are narrowed. This can lead to heart attacks and strokes. High scores can also be attributed to recent sickness or injury so its best to have the test several times (2-4 weeks apart) to determine your true risk.
Other contributing factors
Other contributing factors can be if you are taking synthetic hormones and also if you overindulge on your intake of carbohydrates, grains and sugar to be more specific.
There are other factors that can affect longevity, but these are among that biggest ones. The takeaway here is that genetic testing can help uncover variants in our genes that contribute to our longevity, but it is only a tool. It’s up to us to make changes in our lifestyle to live well in our “prime time” years.