How to Live Forever

Posted on May 4, 2011


Newsweek has an article called “How to Live Forever.”  In spite of that intriguing title, the article isn’t about living with your children or in the nursing home until the universe is finished being the universe and moves on to being something else. If everyone really could live forever, it would bring up other issues.  Like countless generations where everyone is really, really old and no one remembers anyone’s name or can ever find their keys and all the long term care companies have gone bankrupt.  Willard Scott will have to keep upping the required age on the Smuckers jar.  Restaurants will have only soft food menus and will be unable to restock all the little packets of sugar and artificial sweeteners that people sneak home in their purses.

Back to the article, really about how to live longer, which seems a lot more doable than living forever.  The article notes some items we have no control over (be a female, have a mother who was under age 25 when they were born, live in an area with little pollution) and some that they do (exercise, brush and floss daily, eat a “Mediterranean” diet).  In addition, there are a couple of surprises:

Be a Seventh-Day Adventist 

Several studies have been done, involving thousands of Seventh Day Adventists.  Shockingly, thefirst thing researchers discovered was that there were, indeed, thousands of Seventh Day Adventists to study. The factors that were tracked by the study and were shown to be statistically significant in predicting longevity were SDA church-approved lifestyles that included regular exercise, a vegetarian diet, no smoking, optimal body weight, and consumption of a small serving of nuts five to six times a week.  The results were that female SDAs had life expectancies 6-7 years longer than the general population.  Male SDAs had life expectancies 9-10 years longer. 

Note: The SDA church has been quite concerned in recent years at the number of people leaving the church.  When asked why he left, one ex-member said, “I needed a hamburger, and I needed it bad.”

Live in a right-wing dictatorship

Contrary to a widespread belief that living in a right-wing dictatorship is generally hazardous to one’s health, a University of Michigan study finds that, since 1950,  longevity increased faster under right-wing dictatorships than under social democracies.  Reasons for this aren’t clear but may include the beneficial effects of walking everywhere due to a 20 year waitlist for cars, mandatory curfews, inability to watch reality TV, and not having to fret over who to vote for in the general election.

One last bit of advice: Be an optimist.  That will help to increase your life span. It’s a lot easier than packing up and moving to a dictatorship, and you can watch whatever you want to on TV.