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Tips on how women can live longer

By MYLENE MENDOZA-DAYRIT, The Philippine STAR Published May 21, 2024 5:00 am

Maddy Dychtwald just released her new book, Ageless Aging: A Woman’s Guide to Increasing Healthspan, Brainspan, and Lifespan.

“Thank you for being part of this journey. I wrote this for us to live our best years together, full of health and purpose,” she said on X (formerly Twitter) last May 14 when the book was officially released by Mayo Clinic Press. 

The book gathered cutting-edge research and advice from global wellness and health experts, as well as tips to improve your health at any age. Maddy is recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the top global female futurists. She co-founded AgeWave, a leading research and consultancy firm focused on aging, longevity and retirement issues. 

Ageless Aging by Maddy Dychtwald is a practical and scientific guide to improving your healthspan, brainspan and lifespan.

While she was born 74 years ago, her biological age clock number is a mere 51! In fact, Maddy said she feels stronger and better now than a decade ago. While there are many books out there on longevity, Maddy observed that most were written by men. Maddy has been researching on wellness and longevity for 40 years and she wanted to share in her latest book a holistic recipe that involves sleep, exercise, what to eat, and even how to interact with the healthcare system. She also tackled women’s hormones, attitudes and expectations. 

“There is so much confusion around health and wellness, because everyone on TikTok or Instagram, or wherever you happen to get your wellness information, have some very specific perspectives that may not work for you. They may not be based in science. And I wanted to come up with things that were cutting-edge, but also science-based,” Maddy shared in an interview. 

Having purpose can actually add years to your life and make you healthier.

Aging happens on three planes. There is the emotional and psychological aging that allows us to grow in wisdom and resilience. There is chronological aging, which is the tally of our physical existence on earth. Then there is biological aging, which measures health on a cellular level. Maddy explained that we can only work on the psychological and the cellular level, since we cannot manipulate time. 

Age will, indeed, just be a number if we can delay or prevent decay and health issues that accompany physical aging. “We want to have as many birthdays as possible. But we don’t want cognitive decline and the aches, pains and potentially chronic conditions we can prevent,” she quipped. 

Chosen by Forbes as one of the top 50 global female futurists in the world, Maddy Dychtwald (left), at 74, just clocked 51 years on her biological age or health on the cellular level.

“Lifespan is the number of years that you live. Healthspan is the number of years that you live with health and vitality. Brainspan is the number of years your brain stays healthy. If we had our way, we would want both our healthspan and brainspan to be exactly the same length as our lifespan. Ideally, we’d be perfectly healthy until the day we die,” she added. 

Maddy stressed that based on research, 90 percent of our health and wellness is under our control. Only 10 percent is genetic. That’s good news, especially for those who do not have a great genetic history.

Regular exercise is crucial for your lifespan, healthspan, and brainspan. 

“We live six years longer than men, but our healthspans are an average of 12 to 14 years less than our lifespans,” she noted. She would like to lessen that gap and hopes her book could help. 

One of their biggest discoveries from AgeWave is the crucial role of purpose in our lives. Science shows that having a purpose can actually add years to your life and make you healthier. “What was interesting was that purpose doesn’t have to be something big like starting a non-profit or going back to work or starting your second or third or fourth career. It could be walking your dog, taking care of the grandchildren, anything that makes you feel needed,” Maddy clarified. 

She likewise shared that the “positivity effect” studied in both Korea and the United States confirmed that“the attitude that you bring to your own aging and the aging of people around you can actually impact your healthspan and your lifespan.” This positivity can add another seven years to your life. 

Exercise, she adds, is“a silver bullet. You can see changes and feel differently within weeks. Then you might be inspired and motivated in other areas. You might eat a little healthier and your sleep will be positively affected. You might start to take other steps to improve your health. It’s a process.” 

She continues: “There’s a recent study showing that women gain more benefit from exercise than men, and they don’t need to exercise quite as long or as hard to get that same benefit. And I thought that’s pretty awesome—because we know that exercise not only is good for our physical health, but it’s also great for our brain health.

“If you take steps to improve your healthspan and your brainspan, you can actually be energetic, vital, and full of purpose in your third stage of life. Wherever you are in your journey, it’s never too late to invest in your well-being, or to reinvent yourself.” 

She recently shared her top five recommendations to improve one’s brainpan:

Learn new things to stimulate your brain. And she is not referring to online games. She prefers learning a new language, or how to use a new software, or trying a new recipe. These stimulate your brain and foster neuroplasticity.

Fill your plate with the colors of the rainbow. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables.

Change your perspective on aging. Positive thoughts on aging reduce the risk of dementia and can add actual years to your life.

Keep on exercising. It’s the number-one thing people do to protect their brainspan.

Improve your gut health by taking a probiotic. Fermented food strengthens the good bacteria in your gut while sugar feeds the bad bacteria.