How to Live Long and Prosper

- Skip Press

Any Baby Boomer that grew up watching the original “Star Trek” TV show knows where the title of this article came from – it was the Vulcan greeting offered by Leonard Nimoy as “Mr. Spock” aboard the Starship Enterprise. Many Boomers took the sentiment to heart and many of them prospered, particularly those named Steve – Steve Jobs, Steve Martin, Steve Carrell, Steve Harvey, and Steve Spielberg come to mind. Heck, Jeff Bezos (although not a Steve) became the richest man in the world.

Now that we are at retirement age, the generation that spawned the hippies is keenly focused on living out long lives. Two questions fit into that hope for Boomers: (a) Where to live? and (b) How to fully enjoy it? The first has mostly to do with location and the second mostly revolves around health.

Being somewhat nomadic, Americans born from the mid-1940s to 1964 (the year Bezos was born) are not averse to retiring outside of the United States. That might be smart, because according to the CIA World Factbook, the USA only ranks #43 on the list of countries for best Life Expectancy at Birth. The Top Ten locales are (with expected average ages as of 2017):

Monaco 89.40
2 Japan 85.30
3 Singapore 85.20
4 Macau 84.60
5 San Marino 83.30
6 Iceland 83.10
7 Hong Kong 83.00
8 Andorra 82.90
9 Guernsey 82.60
10 Switzerland 82.60

Many of these places seem idyllic at first glance, such as Andorra, a postage stamp country of only 86,000 people lodged between France and Spain. Guernsey is an island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. It has just over 63,000 residents, while the microstate of San Marino, situated on the Italian peninsula on the northeastern side, has an even smaller population of 33,000+. Most Baby Boomers know about Monaco because movie star Grace Kelly married the ruler of the country, Prince Rainier III, in April 1956, but with an area of less than one square mile, it is the second-smallest country in the world after The Vatican.

Most of the Top Ten countries with long-lived populations are relatively small, and Singapore and Iceland are also surrounded by water like Guernsey, but Switzerland is completely land-locked. So, what’s the determining factor on advanced age in these places?

Do they all have magical, fairy tale like living conditions? That would be attractive to Boomer kids, who grew up watching movies in theaters and on TV about dreamlike places where people lived impossibly long lives, from the city of Shangri-La in “Lost Horizon” (1937) to a village locked in time in the Scottish Highlands in “Brigadoon” (1954) to the lost African city of Kuma in “She” (1965).

The funny thing is, stories like that include a price to be paid if the person enjoying a seemingly immortal life leaves or disrupts existence in a long-life land. In “Lost Horizon” a beautiful young lady who departs the haven of Shangri-La shrinks into an old woman and dies once away from that magical valley. Her fate is reminiscent of the Irish legend of the lovers Oisín and the fairy woman Niamh, who go to live Tír na nÓg (“the land of the young”). After what seems only three years to him, Oisín returns to Ireland riding Niahm’s magic white horse, but 300 years have passed there, so when Oisín falls off the horse and his feet touch the ground, just as Niahm warned the 300 years away catch up to him and he becomes old and withered.

Speaking of older people, according to the ranking site Niche.com, 38 out of 50 of the best places to retire in the United States are in Florida, with Pelican Bay at the top. Arizona has 6 locations on the list, South Carolina has 2, while Delaware, Kentucky, New York, and Texas have only 1 each. Texas gets a consolation prize from Niche, however, in that 9 out of 10 places with the Lowest Cost of Living in America are in that state.

For retiring Baby Boomers, even if they find a magic and affordable location in which to enjoy their golden years, the question becomes how to live out their days in the best manner possible.

Biological immortality is a term that refers to a state of existence in which the rate of mortality from senescence (the gradual deterioration of functional characteristics) has been arrested. Still, a biologically immortal living being can still die from other means, like injury or disease. For example, depending on what you believe, a vampire can die via a stake through the heart, or exposure to sunlight, or a sprinkling with a liberal dose of holy water. The popularity of these undead beings in literature, movies, and TV shows over the years may have something to do with a subconscious desire to live forever, despite the distasteful idea of sucking out other people’s blood to stay alive, which is only popular in politics and on Wall Street.

Of course, you could say bloodsuckers also abound in places that feature gambling, like Monaco, Macau, and Hong Kong, but it’s doubtful that an enjoyable game of baccarat will do much to extend your life.

In any event, let’s say you successfully toss the dice and relocate to your perfect golden years home. Will you find that the locale extends longevity? Possibly. Let’s take Japan. They’re famous for samurai warriors, who were often long-lived (as long as they survived warfare). In February 2019, The Telegraph reported that “Japanese plant eaten by Samurai may hold key to slowing down ageing.” The article was about a plant known in Japan as ashitaba, “a staple of Samurai diets for millennia.” A compound in the plant known as DMC (dichlorodiphenyl methyl carbinol), when given to fruit flies and worms, extended their lifespan by 20 percent and was also shown to prevent senescence in human cells. More research was planned to see if DMC can be used to prevent age-related decline in humans. It’s probably best not to go on an ashitaba diet, however, unless positive and conclusive scientific evidence is discovered.

Japan is also known for sushi and sake (rice wine). That’s seafood and alcohol, which are both important in the diets of residents of many of the countries in the Top Ten above. Does sake forestall aging? Well, it’s worth noting that the diet of Li Ching-Yuen, a Chinese herbalist and martial artist reputed  to have lived either 197 or 256 years, supposedly consisted of five mountain-grown herbs and rice wine.

Don’t discount moderate use of alcohol. It was mentioned in a study of people over 90 started in 2003 that looked at habits that led to longer life, and in 2018 by researchers at the Clinic for Aging Research and Education in Laguna Woods, California who focused on the food, activities, and lifestyles of those living longer. As reported in U.S. News and World Report, study results of more than 1,600 nonagenarians showed that people over S90 who drank two glasses of beer or wine a day improved their odds of living longer than those who abstained by about 18 percent.

Let’s get back to seafood. Tuna, salmon, and anchovies have high amounts of niacin, an important element in maintaining youth in cells. Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help combat inflammation, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders. Most people interested in nutrition know the value of omega-3’s, but niacin is perhaps more important long-term.

NMN, a powerful compound known scientifically as nicotinamide mononucleotide, derives from vitamin B3 (niacin). Enzymes in the human body use NMN to generate another compound, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) which is crucial to body health. If levels of NAD+ – the best of two forms of NAD – are optimum, this can reverse many symptoms associated with chronic disease and aging. Studies have shown that NMN helps with bone density, energy levels, eye function, better skeletal tissue, and other health benefits.

Early NMN studies focused on mice revealed that with proper levels of the compound, youthful genes can be switched on and older genes switched off, apparently reversing or at least arresting aging. Human trials have promised similar results. The idea of switching on good genes and switching off bad ones is not science-fiction. The work of University of Tsukuba (Japan) Professor Emeritus Kazuo Murakami, whose achievements in biotechnology are acknowledged around the world, has proven this, as documented in his book The Divine Code of Life and the book and documentary Switch.

So you might be thinking, hmm… how about resveratrol, the chemical in red wine that seems to be a powerful therapeutic option for anti-aging? If you put red wine and seafood together, isn’t that part of the popular Mediterranean diet? After all, San Marino and Monaco are on the Mediterranean. Yes, but there is another factor. Turkey, chicken, beef, and pork are high in niacin, as are peanuts, broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, edamame (big in Japan), avocado, tomato, green peas, mushrooms, avocado, whole wheat, and brown rice. Niacin is huge with regard to the health of human cellular structure.

The problem is that as we age, we can’t get adequate niacin from foods to cause creation of NMN in our cells to combat aging. Natural production of the compound has been revealed to be almost non-existent in males by the age of 80, and not much better for female octogenarians. This contributes to a condition known as sarcopenia – muscles shriveling and growing weaker with age – that can be slowed down with regular exercise, but capillaries, our tiniest blood vessels, wither and die as the years increase.

Reduced blood flow means less oxygen to organs and tissues, leading to the build-up of toxins and atrophy of blood vessels. This is not a movie that Baby Boomers or anyone else wants to watch.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that, with the discovery of NMN and other age-arresting substances, youth may be able to be restored in humans, wherever they are living. In an article entitled “Rewinding the Clock” the Harvard Medical School reported the following results of a study:

“[T]he team gave NMN over two months to a group of mice that were 20 months old—the rough equivalent of 70 in human years. NMN treatment restored the number of blood capillaries and capillary density to those seen in younger mice. Blood flow to the muscles also increased and was significantly higher than blood supply to the muscles seen in same-age mice that didn’t receive NMN.

“The most striking effect, however, emerged in the aging mice’s ability to exercise. These animals showed between 56 and 80 percent greater exercise capacity, compared with untreated mice the study showed. The NMN-treated animals managed to run 430 meters, or about 1,400 feet, on average, compared with 240 meters, or 780 feet, on average, for their untreated peers.”

And let’s not forget, caloric restriction has also been proven to extend longevity, so no matter what foods you ingest, moderation will likely mean longer life.

There are many NMN supplements currently on the market with endless argument about which is best, and prices are all over the charts. How do you choose? Purity might be a good index. Mirai Lab in Japan offers a 60-capsule bottle of 98% pure NMN for almost $1100, while Herbalmax Reinvigorator (the product I’m taking) has a 99% pure enhanced NMN product for one-third that amount. Naturally, there are other products of lesser concentration and lower prices, but just like picking the optimum place in which to retire, it’s best to do a lot of research before making a move.

A good environment, a moderate diet of high NAD+ friendly food, adequate regular exercise, and a happy and grateful attitude toward your fellow humans may mean you will live a century or more, given the continuing developments in aging studies. Hopefully, whether you live in a location rated highly for Life Expectancy at Birth or not, you’ll spend your golden years in your own personal Shangri-La.

We’ve reviewed several aspects of living long here, but what about the ultimate prosperity? Most people who have lived a long time would point out one thing – it’s your own good health.