Increase Your Healthspan - Soni Spil
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It’s time to start looking past vanity and pushing for our “Healthspan.”

What is a “Healthspan?” This is the amount of time you live–in a healthy state. You could live to be 80 years old however if 30 of those years you struggled with high blood pressure, thyroid disorders, or obesity those last 30 wouldn’t be part of your “Healthspan.”

Many things can play a role in your epigenetics which is the study of how your behaviours and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work. Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic changes are reversible and do not change your DNA sequence, but they can change how your body reads a DNA sequence. The things that can affect this most are:

  • Chronic stress
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Dietary intake
  • Not getting time in nature
  • Not getting exercise or movement

When we can hack into reversing damage onto the cells and DNA, we can add years to our “Healthspan”, we can work on reversing the damage to our bodies by working on major factors- inflammation, oxidative stress, gut health and obesity.

Lower Inflammation:
This is one of the biggest players in the ageing process. It promotes cancer and arthritis, and it is linked to higher death rates with COVID-19, as well as many other conditions and dysfunctions. When looking to increase your Healthspan this is easily the first thing to work on, as is it one of the easiest to fix with lifestyle changes. Inflammation occurs when the body is exposed to toxins or is going through stress, as it is a response to “protect” the body, however, it causes a lot of issues in an attempt to “protect.” Some easy ways to reduce inflammation would be adopting a diet low in processed foods and saturated fats and adopting a whole-food approach to nutrition. Getting adequate movement and exercise, as well as working on activities that promote stress relief such as yoga, and mindful breathing techniques.

Getting in plenty of fruits and veggies, avoiding cigarette smoke, and using house plants to help clean your house air are just a few things that aid in lowering oxidative stress and increasing antioxidants.

Reduce Oxidative stress:
Oxidative stress and inflammation are tied together and typically go hand in hand. Oxidative stress is a result of the damage that free radicals create when they are outnumbered by antioxidants in the body. Keep in mind that free radicals are created daily as our body uses the cells to produce energy through the body, so when we are not getting enough antioxidants or when there is excessive stress on the body the amount of free radicals increases and the body cannot recover. Getting in plenty of fruits and veggies, avoiding cigarette smoke, and using house plants to help clean your house air are just a few things that aid in lowering oxidative stress and increasing antioxidants. To top it off, regular exercise may affect exercise-induced oxidative stress by increasing antioxidant levels. Several studies have reported that long-term exercise training reduces oxidative stress following acute exercise.

Increase Gut health:
‘All disease begins in the gut’–Hippocrates For the recent “epidemic” of chronic inflammatory diseases, gut dysfunction such as “Leaky gut” seems to be behind each one. There’s also a huge correlation between autoimmune disorders and gut dysfunction in addition most thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease are closely linked to gut dysfunction. For the body to convert T4 which is the unusable form of thyroid hormone it must cross through the gut into the liver where it gets converted into T3 which is the usable source of thyroid hormone which is responsible for major roles in the metabolism, and how food is converted into energy. In addition to this if the gut is not healthy it is not absorbing the nutrition from the foods that we do eat. That means while you may be trying to get in more antioxidants taking in fruits and veggies if the gut is not healthy those nutrients and precious antioxidants will not be absorbed by the body. One of the biggest reasons for inflammation inside of the body is the ” leaky gut”. Leaky gut occurs when the tight junctions of the small and large intestine are broken down and particles and toxins from the food that we eat are passed through the small and large intestine and leak out of those junctions. From there the body’s response is to release “cytokines” which are what the body uses to protect itself against foreign invaders. In doing this, it creates major inflammation inside of the body and it puts our thyroid at risk of being attacked as our body tends to attack the thyroid gland when sending out cytokines to attack toxins. Some daily habits you can adopt to keep a healthy gut are taking probiotics, taking the time to sit down and chew your food as well as avoiding stressful situations during meal times. Making sure to get in daily movement or even take a 5-10 minute walk post-meal has also been shown to help with digestion as well as insulin levels, which means a short break away from your desk and getting some steps in.

Maintain a healthy weight:
The world is full of beautiful images of fit people on the front of every magazine cover, internet ad, and marketing campaign, it is easy to forget that obesity is an epidemic. Obesity is rising at an alarming rate. The CDC released that From 1999 to 2000 through 2017–2018, the prevalence of obesity increased from 30.5% to 42.4%, and the prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%.

Obesity-related conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer are some of the leading causes of preventable, premature death. In November of 2019, Nicholas Hendren with the American Heart Association released that there is an “intersection of a global pandemic and the national epidemic of obesity.” Stating that COVID-19 patients with obesity face a higher risk of complications and death, regardless of age. Creating daily habits that support lowering inflammation, fighting oxidative stress, gut health and keeping your body weight in a healthy range will not only add quality to your life, but it will also add years to your Healthspan.

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Sonia Spil has been in the health and fitness industry for seven years, with a focus on nutrition and a passion for helping people find solutions to why struggle with gut issues, sex drive and weight loss. She is a certified hormone specialist with additional education in functional nutrition. While I am a mom of a wild and fiery 6-year-old girl, I still make time for my favourite hobby…bodybuilding! For me, it’s about watching what things the body can do and challenging myself daily.

1 Comment

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