Six Keys to Optimizing Your Health, Longevity and Well-BeingSubmitted by The Blakeley Group, Inc. on October 23rd, 2022
It’s pretty safe to say that everyone wants to experience optimal health, energy and well-being. It’s also pretty safe to say that most of us know the steps we should be taking to enjoy those benefits—but that we too often don’t bother.
- Your Tribe
Wells stresses it is more important to have greater life in your years than years in your life. It’s about quality over quantity—but, of course, it’s best to have both.
Here’s a closer look at each of the six components of ENERGY.
On a biological level, we are all different—often in significant and functionally determinative ways. Therefore, achieving optimal health and energy should begin with a rigorous exploration of how you are uniquely put together and how you function. Such information empowers you to know your ideal diet, what (if any) supplements to take, the best exercises for you and how to efficiently handle stress.
Put differently: Until you scientifically track something, it’s very difficult to know how you are doing (generally and specifically) and whether any changes you make are providing positive results.
Step one begins with a series of lab tests to assess your mitochondria—the energy factories of the human body. Wells notes that nearly every disease and perhaps even aging itself is tied to mitochondrial health and function. He therefore recommends that everyone have three important blood biomarkers tested:
- hsCRP (highly sensitive C-reactive protein), an inflammation test (since inflammation harms mitochondria)
- HbA1c, which gives a snapshot of your blood glucose levels (since poor glycemic control contributes directly to mitochondrial dysfunction)
- oxLDL (oxidized low-density lipoprotein), which tests for oxidation (which damages mitochondria)
Additionally, Wells suggests two more lab tests that, along with the first three, can give you a strong general baseline to gauge future progress:
- Vitamin D, which is actually a hormone that not only supports the immune system and prevents infection but also is related to many other body functions
- Lipoprotein(a), which is correlated to cardiovascular disease risk and is superior to other heart-related tests like those for HDL, LDL and total cholesterol
Step two involves making use of a “wearable” that tracks your sleep quality, heart rate variability and other important data points. Examples include the Oura Ring, WHOOP Strap, Apple Watch and Fitbit. The best of these devices will not only provide you a baseline of important metrics but can also track the duration and quality of your sleep—including how much time you spend in each of the four sleep stages—and how recovered and ready you are to take on intense physical activity or stress. The result: cumulative data and specific readouts of exactly where you currently stand.
To keep things simple on the diet front, Wells emphasizes some “back to basics” pointers to help you stay on track. First, the best diet is something that you will be able to stick to for the rest of your life. It’s not some newfangled fad that you adopt because it is fashionable, but rather a way of life and looking at what you take into your body that will energize you, keep you healthy and help you do your best.
Second, a diet focused on whole foods—with as little processing and as few additives as possible—is essential. That is, most of what we eat should be real, actual foods that grow in nature versus those made in a lab.
Armed with this foundational view, your own bio-individuality and preferences can help point to which kind of whole-foods-based lifestyle diet is best for you. Three healthy options that Wells discusses are:
- The ketogenesis (or “keto”) diet, which is 0–10 percent carbohydrates, 20–25 percent protein and 65–75 percent fats
- The Mediterranean diet, which is 10 percent meats and sweets, 10 percent poultry and eggs, 10 percent seafood, and 70 percent vegetables and fats
- The Paleolithic (or “paleo”) diet, which is 15 percent nuts and berries, 15 percent fruits with a low glycemic index (ones that don’t spike blood sugar), 30 percent meat and seafood, and 40 percent vegetables
As for what to eliminate from our diets, Wells highlights a few key bad actors:
- PUFAs, or polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are among the most dangerous elements in our food supply—the way they are processed renders them carcinogenic and inflammatory—but they are found in nearly all processed foods and canola, sunflower, safflower and peanut oils.
- Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, such as high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, agave and white refined sugar. These spike insulin, raise blood sugar levels and increase the propensity to store calories as fat.
- Gluten, which for some people is inflammatory.
- Food with artificial colors, sweeteners and flavors. All of these increase the risk of cancer and hyperactivity.
Finally, Wells is a proponent of the supplement berberine, which helps lower glucose levels. Similar to the diabetes wonder-drug Metformin—which lowers glucose levels, inflammation and oxidation levels while improving mitochondrial function and cellular energy—berberine does not require a prescription.
One of Wells’ primary goals is combating “sitting disease” or “sitting syndrome”—the rise in all-cause mortality associated with lengthy uninterrupted sitting (and lack of movement generally). For example, Wells notes that each additional hour of daily sitting increases all-cause mortality rates by about 2 percent!
One solution is movement breaks and “exercise snacks.” The idea is that if you have only one hour a day to dedicate to movement and exercise, you are better off breaking that up into 12 five-minute segments than doing it all at once. Just as it’s important to rest your eyes by looking away from your screen, it’s crucial to get up and move your body throughout the day. You can walk or run inside or outside, do air squats, do planks, climb stairs, bounce on a mini trampoline, jump rope or do anything else that is fun and at least moderately raises your heart rate.
For starters, we should seek to align our bodies with our circadian rhythms and do whatever else is necessary to get sufficient sleep. Health, healing, exercise, mood, performance, disease resistance and longevity itself have all been shown to be directly related to sleep.
The second routine focus—which follows from good sleep—is starting our days the right way. You want to own your day, not let your day own you, as Wells puts it. How we wake up each day sets the tone for everything that will follow and determines whether we are setting ourselves up for success or stagnation. Wells recommends waking up 30 minutes earlier than you normally do so you can take your time and engage in the following types of activities:
- Take in bright light early in the day.
- Meditate, or do a mindfulness or breath work practice—such as deep breathing through the nose with slow exhales.
- Stretch and take a short walk.
- Hydrate and eat a high-quality breakfast.
The upshot: By staying conscious and improving the routines you follow—especially at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day when you’re preparing for sleep—you can position yourself to potentially enhance and sustain your energy daily.
A 75-year Harvard study looked at many factors (such as money, race and occupation) to see what was most important for healthy aging. Ultimately, the most critical factor for leading a healthy, happy and long life was the quality of our close relationships.
The key, however, is not necessarily having a lot of friends or even being in a long-term relationship. What really matters is whether there are others in your life with whom you can be vulnerable and authentic—especially when you are down, are in a crisis or need help. Knowing we can rely on others relaxes the nervous system, helps keep the brain healthy, and reduces both physical and emotional pain.
Some of this advice may be new and surprising to you, and some of it you may have already known for a long time. But by having it put together in an organized way that connects the dots, you may find it easier to turn insights into action steps that bring you closer to living your best life.