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Is Longevity Inherited From Your Mother or Father (or Neither)?

Genetic, Lifestyle, and Environmental Connections To Longevity

No one wants to live forever, but that doesn’t mean most people want to live a long, healthy life.


Maybe you’ve heard that lifespan is entirely dependent on genetics. Or maybe you’ve heard the opposite and expect lifestyle to dictate your longevity.


What factors contribute to our lifespan, and how much of it can we actually control?


In this article, we will discuss what factors influence longevity, how much of our longevity is nature vs. nurture, and what lifestyle changes may help extend our lives.


Table of Contents

An elderly couple enjoying cooking together.

Is Longevity Inherited?

Longevity may only be partially related to genetics.


Recent research suggests that up to 20-40% of lifespan may be inherited through genetic mechanisms and mutations passed along through generations. Other factors of longevity may heavily rely on lifestyle.


Longevity can be a matter of nature (genetics) vs. nurture (lifestyle).


If our lifespan is only partly inherited, are we more likely to inherit longevity from our mother or father? Which genetic traits and mutations lead to a longer lifespan? How much of our longevity is accredited to our lifestyle and environment?


When it comes to genetic inheritance and lifestyle, it might just take two or more to tango humanity’s way to longer, healthier lives.


Do You Get Life Expectancy From Mom or Dad?

Certain genes like APOE, FOXO3, and CEPT are common variations called polymorphisms that are often found in some, but not all, individuals with outstandingly long lifespans. These long-lifespan granting genes can be passed down through generations but the genetic line doesn’t discriminate between parentage.


Some research suggests that children may inherit the lifespan of their parents, but there isn’t any data that proves life expectancy is linked specifically to the inheritance of the mother or father.


One study does suggest that the daughters of women who succeeded the age of 90 were more likely to attain similar aging as long as their lifestyles were similar.


Geneticists propose that while genetic factors play a role in lifespan, that role isn’t a main character until roughly seven or eight decades of our life have already passed. This could mean that your lifestyle and other factors may have a larger impact on your longevity than your predisposed genetics.


Longevity Likely Stems From Both Genetics and Other Factors

Genetics may have some relevant impact on how long we live, but it is not the only factor.

Factors that may be relevant to longevity include:

  • Genetics

  • Lifestyle

  • Environment

  • Social factors like the ability to access healthcare, crime rate, etc.

While some factors may not be in our control, factors like lifestyle and hygiene may be our ticket to extending our longevity as far as the other factors allow. When looking at the world’s population, the leading cause of death is heart disease. Around 16% of the world’s deaths result from cardiovascular disease.


Cardiovascular disease is considered a non-communicable disease, which means it is a disease not caused by infection or virus but rather a long-term health consequence. Other non-communicable diseases are amongst the top ten causes of death globally. In 2019, it was recorded that 74% of global deaths were attributed to non-communicable diseases.


Lifestyle can have a direct impact on whether you develop a noncommunicable disease. Adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle may lead to a reduced risk of noncommunicable age-related diseases like:

  • Adult-onset diabetes

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Stroke

  • Throat and lung cancer

  • Chronic kidney disease and;

  • Hypertension

Factors Outside of Genetics That May Contribute to Longevity

Making healthier lifestyle changes may lead to increased longevity, but these factors are not a cure-all. Health is holistic and many factors can influence lifespan. Be sure to listen to your healthcare providers when making significant adjustments to your lifestyle.


Lifestyle

How much does lifestyle impact our longevity?


One study directed by Havard’s School of Public Health analyzed data collected from 78,000 women and 44,000 men. The data consisted of a snapshot of the participant’s lifestyles based on five factors which were:

  • Weight

  • Nutritional habits

  • Tobacco consumption

  • Alcohol consumption and;

  • Physical activity

Researchers also collected information about the participants' medical history. This data was then cross-referenced with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

It was estimated that the individuals who did not adopt healthy lifestyles for any of the five factors were expected to live shorter lives than their counterparts.


Per the study, it was estimated that women who did not routinely participate in any of the five healthy habits were estimated to live an average lifespan of 79 years, while men in that same category were estimated to live an average of 75.5 years.


In contrast, women who did adopt healthier habits were estimated to live an average of 93.1 years and men were estimated to live an average of 87.6 years.


When is it too late for lifestyle changes to affect lifespan and morbidity rates?


One study completed in Japan suggests that it may not be too late to make changes to your lifestyle that can positively impact your longevity, even if you are well into your 80s.


This research followed the lives of 49,021 individuals from 1988 until 2009 after 8,966 of the participants had died. It found that middle-aged participants who reduced alcohol intake, did not smoke, lost weight, and increased sleep added 6-7 years to their lives.


The benefits of a healthier lifestyle even extended the lives of 80-year-old participants with one or more noncommunicable diseases like cancer, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.


An elderly couple practicing yoga in a kitchen.

Physical Activity

According to the CDC, the benefits routine physical exercise has on your body include:

  • Improved brain health

  • Healthy weight management

  • Reduced risk of disease

  • Strong bones and muscles

  • Improved cardiovascular function

Research suggests that lower morbidity risk can be associated with individuals that partake in routine exercise but how much physical activity is needed to lengthen longevity?


Exercise guidelines suggest that adults get an average of 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise a week or 75-150 minutes of vigorous exercise a week. While maintaining this figure is a healthy lifestyle minimum, studies have shown that individuals who exercised 2-4 times the recommended amount had reduced morbidity rates across the board.


Participants in a study comparing physical activity to longevity found that individuals who exercised about 150-299 minutes had a 21-23% lower all-cause mortality and a 27-33% lower cardiovascular-associated mortality.


Diet

Scientists suggest consuming plenty of:

  • Legumes

  • Omega-3 fatty acids

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Whole grains

This may improve longevity by lowering blood pressure and blood sugar, reducing inflammation and cholesterol, and reducing the likelihood of heart attack or stroke.


While research also suggests limiting:

  • Alcohol intake

  • Sugar

  • Processed food

  • Red meats

  • Sodium

This may reduce the risk of diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.


One study found that making even minor changes in your diet may help lower your likelihood of heart disease and other non-communicable diseases that lead to premature death.


Tobacco and Alcohol Use

If you’ve ever taken a health class in school, you may have heard several statistics relating alcohol and tobacco use to lower longevity rates. So it is probably no surprise that limiting or eliminating alcohol and tobacco consumption may, in fact, significantly lengthen your lifespan.


Research has found that even one drink a day, or seven drinks a week, can increase your mortality rate from all causes and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.


Excess alcohol consumption can also increase your cholesterol and blood pressure leaving you susceptible to a myriad of noncommunicable diseases like diabetes or stroke. Chronic alcohol abuse can even lower an individual’s lifespan by 24-28 years.


The overall mortality rate for smokers, both female and male, is three times higher than individuals who have never smoked.


The major causes of mortality in regular tobacco consumers include:

  • Cancer

  • Respiratory disease and;

  • Vascular disease

Eliminating tobacco from one’s lifestyle by the age of 40 reduces tobacco-associated causes of mortality by 90%.


Stress and Anxiety Levels

Stress is often referred to as the silent killer.


A recent Yale study has found that stress can reduce longevity and increase the risk of heart attack or diabetes.


Stress may sometimes cause excess levels of cortisol which can increase the risk factors associated with heart disease like:

  • High cholesterol

  • High triglycerides

  • High blood sugar

  • High blood pressure

Emotion regulation and mental health prioritization may help reduce stress and lower cortisol levels.


To help reduce stress and improve your emotional well-being you could:

  • Be more active

  • Meditate

  • Practice yoga

  • Journal

  • Connect with others

  • Try a breathing exercise when you feel any negative emotions

We all need a little extra help relaxing from time to time.


While meditation and yoga may be effective tools in reducing stress, they’re only the most effective when you can let go of all distractions, re-center, and focus.


Good Bitters has created a tool in a seemingly sweet, but truly bitter heart-shaped candy.

Kalm Drops may help stimulate your senses with a bitter shock so you can detach from your worldly worries and desires to focus on centralizing and relaxing.


Sleep Patterns

Sleep boosts our overall health, brain performance, and mood which can lead to a longer life. Poor sleep can lead to an increased risk of noncommunicable diseases that can shorten your lifespan.


But there’s more to sleep than just the hours spent in the comfort of your pillows and blankets. The quality of your sleep matters.


Factors that contribute to healthy sleep include:

  • How much sleep you get

  • If your sleep is uninterrupted and;

  • If your sleep schedule is consistent

One study completed by the American College of Cardiology found that if all three factors are met routinely, the lifespan of individuals could be extended by 2-4 years. Data from the same study also suggests that about 8% of any cause could be attributed to poor sleep.


A joyful elderly couple embracing each other.

Social Network

Monkey see, monkey do. Monkey having a good group of friends may allow them to:

  • Adopt healthier habits

  • Reduce feelings of anxiety or depression

  • Enhance cognitive function

  • Gain a sense of purpose in life

Recent research has found that people with strong social connections have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and other factors like inflammation and hypertension which can lead to other chronic diseases and premature aging.


Environmental Factors

You’ve heard of nature vs. nurture. In this article, we’ve referred to ‘nature’ as a genetic predisposition towards lifespan and ‘nurture’ as the lifestyle choices that can impact longevity.


But have you considered how nature and your environment may influence your lifespan?


Urban vs. Rural Living

Living near nature may have a positive influence on lifespan. Rural living allows room for more recreational activity, better air quality, and provides a less stressful environment. One study found that long-term exposure to greenery could possibly add up to 2.5 onto your life.

Urban areas are known to have more pollution, noise, and hazards that could cause stress and impact health. Lack of green spaces and access to affordable, fresh produce could limit opportunities for a healthier lifestyle. But urban living does provide more opportunities for social interaction than rural living which could inverse data.


Some research suggests that people living in rural areas may live shorter lives than their urban counterparts. However, this could be the influence of socioeconomic factors like income and access to healthcare.


Blue Zones

Blue Zones are areas with high concentrations of populations with exceedingly long lifespans. The term for these areas was coined after demographic research was established by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain in 2004.


Areas that are considered Blue Zones include:

  • Nuoro Province, Sardinia, Italy

  • Okinawa, Japan

  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

  • Icaria, Greece

  • Loma Linda, California, United States

The longevity in these regions is more likely attributed to the lifestyle influenced by the social environment. Many of the people in these regions share social values, diets, activity levels, hobbies, and little to no alcohol or tobacco consumption.


Cross-sectional factors found in all Blue Zone lifestyles include:

  • Legumes

  • No smoking

  • Plant-heavy diet

  • Routine, moderate physical activity; and

  • Close community and familial relationships

Explore Ways To Enhance Your Wellness and Contribute To Longevity With Good Bitters

Emotional and physical wellness are intrinsically tied to health and longevity. How you practice balance and wellness is up to you.


All good things in life, like health and balance, may sometimes require practice.


So often we carry restraints like overindulgence and stress that inhibit our ability to practice a lifestyle that promotes holistic wellness.


Disrupting the cycles that harm our wellness and longevity can require practice, and sometimes we might need a little more help. Kalm Drops optimizes the relaxing properties of an herb called Silk Tassel to create a wellness tool that may help you stimulate your senses to disrupt patterns of negative overconsumption.


Indulge in the bittersweet balance of Silk Tassel and practice wellness with help from Kalm Drops by Good Bitters. The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Disclaimer: The information on this website is taken from traditional wisdom and modern research/databases and is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to act as medical advice or to replace medical treatment. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The statements and information on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA. Please consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider for your individual needs.


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