Young woman holding bottle of olive oil

The Oils Of Longevity

You may have heard people saying they can’t live without their morning coffee, but we usually don’t take them literally. Just when you thought your caffeinated cup had reached the limit in positive attributes, there comes proof that having a cup of coffee each day may be just what you need to keep having more days to have more cups of coffee! And while you’re at it, you may want to pop some fish oil pills too; they apparently have similar effect.

Recent studies show that both coffee and fish oil contain properties which can actually promote longevity. Not convinced? Here’s a look at some of the latest research on drinking coffee and taking fish oil capsules and why it may just be the latest recipe for long life.

What Are Telomeres?
You may have heard of these little caps at the end of our DNA. Telomeres control our lifespan by determining how many times our cells divide and stay alive. As we get older, environmental stressors take their toll, and these telomeres get shorter, meaning our lives do as well. Therefore, keeping them long is key to longevity. The latest way to do that is by drinking your morning coffee with a side of fish oil.

Fish Oil and Longevity
A study in the 2016 issue of Nutrients looked at the effect of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil on tele mere length in a controlled trial. Experts attribute the increase in length to a reduction of oxidative stress.

An additional study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity seems to support these findings. The study included 106 individuals with an average age of 51 who were considered relatively healthy, divided into three groups. One group received 2.5 grams of long chain omega-3’s per day, a second received 1.25 grams a day, and one received placebo pills that had proportion of fatty acids similar to those found in an average American diet. After four months, results showed a significant increase in telomere length and a decrease in oxidative stress among those who received the omega-3 supplements.

The two main types of long chain omega-3 fats are most often found in fish such as sardines, herring, salmon, and mackerel. Alpha-linolenic acid is a short chain omega-3 fatty acid that can be found in flaxseeds and walnuts.

Coffee and Longevity
Coffee is already a well known source of antioxidants which makes it a life lengthening beverage. Scientists ar the Journal of Nutrition used data from the Nurse’s Health Study form 1976 to explain the link between coffee drinking and telomere length in 4780 female nurses, and found a direct correlations. Of the nurses, those who drank 2 cups of coffee daily had a 29% higher chance of having an average telomere lengthen while the odds were 36% higher in those who drank 3 cups.

However experts are quick to point out that while coffee may be very beneficial to your health, caffeine may not. Although researchers from the University of Scranton say coffee is America’s number one antioxidant source, they are also quick to remind us that regular and decaf have the same antioxidant levels, and too much caffeine can cause unwanted side effects. Try to keep caffeine consumption at a moderate 300-400mg daily, about 3 to 4 cups of coffee to keep away anxiety and depression.

What do you think? Is fish oil and coffee the new Breakfast of Champions? Let us know!

Senior woman smiling at her caregiver

A Generous Heart May Help You Live Longer

Usually, when it is said of someone that he or she has a good heart, it means that someone is generous, or caring. That they take time out to do unto others. However, in more literal terms, a good heart is associated with good cardiovascular health. Having a good heart means quite simply that your heart is in good condition. But, could they be one and the same? New studies show that volunteering, besides being mentally beneficial, can also have a positive impact on physical health. Need evidence? Here are what some experts are saying about how having a good heart can lead to having a good heart.

Mental and Physical Benefits
Anyone who has ever volunteered knows how mentally and emotionally rewarding it can be. Not only do volunteers feel as if they have made a positive change, studies show that donating time can lead to a feeling of greater social connectedness, and less depression and loneliness. However, new evidence reveals that people who volunteer may also be gifted with long lifespans and low blood pressure readings.

A study from Carnegie Mellon University, published in this month’s edition of Psychology and Aging, shows that those who give time to others may have better health than those who do not. Findings revealed that adults over 40 who volunteered regularly were at a lower risk for high blood pressure than those who did not volunteer. High blood pressure is an accurate health indicator because it is linked to stroke, heart disease, and premature death.

Because it is possible that volunteers may also take part in other health conscious activities, such as exercise and healthy eating, it is not possible to prove that volunteering was the sole reason for the lower blood pressure readings, but the results do seem to point in that direction.

woman working at animal shelter

How It Works
If you are wondering how exactly volunteering contributes to better health and longer life, Rodlescia Sneed, lead author of the Carnegie Mellon study, may have some insight on the phenomena. One explanation may be the increased physical activity volunteering can provide for those who are not otherwise very active. Another may be stress reduction. According to Sneed, “Many people find volunteer work to be helpful with respect to stress reduction, and we know that stress is very strongly linked with health outcomes.”

If you are thinking of volunteering, and want to know how to get the maximum benefits from your do-gooding, Carnegie Mellon is on top of it. According to the study, it takes 200 hours of volunteering annually to reap the rewards of low blood pressure, although other studies have found as little as 100 hours will do the trick. As for types of volunteering, that remains unknown. However, Sneed speculates that it is the more mentally stimulating activities, like reading and tutoring, that lead to sharper thinking and memory skills, whereas “activities that promote physical activity would be helpful with respect to cardiovascular health, but no studies have really explored this.”

In conclusion, one thing does seem clear; the best results of volunteering come when it is done for the right reasons. A 2012 study published in the Health Psychology journal found that those who benefitted most from volunteer work were those whose intentions were altruistic. In other words, it has to come from the heart if the rewards are going to end up there.

Do you do volunteer work? How do you find it affects you? Let us know what you’re doing for others and what you think it might be doing for you!