Living longer is a hot topic in the media but filtering the expert health advice from the uninformed opinion can be a challenge. Nutritionists, lifestyle coaches and bloggers constantly argue the best approach to everything from diets to how we care for people when they get older.
Below are seven experts who are helping cut through the confusion and looking at how we can all live longer, healthier lives.
1. John Mathers
John Mathers is Professor of Human Nutrition and Scientific Director for the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University. He leads the Livewell project, a multidisciplinary programme that studies diet, exercise, smart technologies and social connectivity.
He specializes in the relatively new science of epigenetics and works to try and understand how nutrition can help slow the damage that age inflicts on cells. He advocates the Mediterranean diet for longer life and says: “An eating pattern which has plenty of fruit and vegetables, not too much meat, some fish, not too much fat and modest alcohol consumption, is associated with people living longer and having less heart disease, less cancers and less risk of Alzheimer’s… Ageing is not necessarily something that leads to misery and ill health.”
- Bertalan Meskó
Forbes called him the geek who’s changing the world. Bertalan Meskó, MD, PhD is a medical futurist and author of “The Guide to the Future of Medicine: Technology and The Human Touch”. He studies future trends in medicine and how companies and governments can ensure they meet the challenges. He has his own YouTube Channel and has written extensively on the role of virtual reality and the healthcare experience.
Healthspottr.com included him in the Future Health Top 100 list and Huffington Post named him as one of the 30 biotech thinkers with the biggest global impact.
In a recent interview with pharmaphorum he said: “Seeing how people suffer from badly designed healthcare and the lack of information has been a constant inspiration for trying to improve the delivery of healthcare. Patients who share their stories in social media and physicians standing out as thought leaders working for change are inspiring me every single day.”
- Andrew Steptoe
Andrew Steptoe is a British Heart Foundation Professor of Psychology at University College London and believes in the power of positive thinking. He recently led a team in studying the effects of emotional stress on the heart and people’s longevity. The team found that after suffering a heart attack the most pessimistic patients were twice as likely to suffer another serious health condition in the next four years, compared with the more optimistic people.
Now his team are developing and testing new ways of counselling patients and encouraging them to change their lifestyle to make it healthier. They are also exploring how the internet can be used more effectively to support a person’s behaviour change.
Steptoe, said: “Our research shows that optimistic people are more likely to take advice about lifestyle changes on board, like quitting smoking and eating more healthily – this results in better outcomes after a patient suffers from unstable angina or a heart attack.”
Getting the right amount of sleep has always been linked to people’s overall good health. Getting too much however could be a significant factor in people’s longevity.
Professor Franco Cappuccio and a team from the University of Warwick and University College London recently analyzed 16 sleep studies and found that people who sleep longer than eight hours are at more than double the risk of cardiovascular disease in later life. He attributed this to underlying and often undiagnosed health problems.
In an interview with the BBC, he said that after ten years, 12% of people who slept less than six hours had died while 30% of those who slept more than eight hours had died.
- Dan Buettner
Emmy-award-winning explorer, longevity lecturer and best-selling author, Dan Buettner, is best known as a National Geographic Fellow and for his work as an international speaker and his study into so-called Blue Zones, regions of the world where people live longer and enjoy a better old age than most.
He founded the Blue Zones company and his talk ‘How to live to be 100+’ has been viewed over 2 million times. He has delivered keynote speeches for Bill Clinton’s Health Matters Initiative, Google Zeitgeist, TEDMED other renowned conferences.
In 2009, Dan and his partner, AARP, applied principles of The Blue Zones to the town of Albert Lea, Minnesota and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs by an incredible 40%. He is currently working with Healthways to implement the Blue Zones Project in 17 cities throughout the US.
- Edzard Ernst
Uncompromising and controversial, Edzard Ernst MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCP (Edin.) is an academic physician, author and researcher specializing in the study of complementary and alternative medicine.
He was formerly emeritus professor of complementary medicine at Exeter University and is a Founding Fellow of the Institute of Science in Medicine.
He is widely recognized as one of the world’s most outspoken academics against the effectiveness and myths around detoxing and the effects of complementary medicine.
In an interview with the Guardian, he said: “It’s criminal exploitation of the gullible man on the street and it sort of keys into something that we all would love to have – a simple remedy that frees us of our sins. It’s nice to think that it could exist but unfortunately it doesn’t.”
- Klaus Gebel
Dr. Klaus Gebel is a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Science, James Cook University and is the lead author of a far-reaching study into the positive effects of exercise on how we all age.
His team followed some 204,542 people for more than six years and compared those who engaged in only moderate activity with those who regularly engaged in vigorous exercise. They found that the risk of mortality for those who included some vigorous activity was 9% to 13% lower, compared with those who only undertook moderate activity.
He said: “The benefits of vigorous activity applied to men and women of all ages, and were independent of the total amount of time spent being active. The results indicate that whether or not you are obese, and whether or not you have heart disease or diabetes, if you can manage some vigorous activity it could offer significant benefits for longevity.”
For more advice on healthy living and adopting a lifestyle why not check out Greatist.com. It draws on a growing pool of experts and is one of the fastest growing online communities in health advice and blogging.