02.14.2020 •

The Secrets to Becoming a Super-Ager

February 14th is going to be a big deal this year for my family—and no, we’re not talking about Valentine’s Day here. Friends and family are journeying in from all over the country to celebrate a major milestone. My Nana (that’s grandmother for those who don’t know) will be turning 100 this month!

While we may not all have the genetic edge for longevity like my Nana, if you want to be blowing out 100 candles one day and join the centenarian club, here are some tips for how to boost longevity and become a super-ager.

Eat less (or really, not too much) to live longer

You’ve ditched that damaging diet and swapped it out for one that includes plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and healthy fats and proteins. We all know the benefits of eating healthier.

But for those of you who want to add time to your lifeline, don’t overeat—even the good stuff. The Japanese (like my Nana) have figured out long ago what scientists have more recently discovered, that eating less can help you live longer. That doesn’t mean starving yourself though. The Japanese have an expression, “hara hachi bu,” meaning to eat until you are 80% full.

My Nana loves to eat (probably where I got that from), but she stops eating when she’s no longer hungry instead of waiting until she’s full.

Hold off on holding a grudge

You’re not alone if you can’t forget about that time (those times) that someone has done you wrong. Anger and outrage can eat you up inside, increasing stress hormones and negatively impacting your immune system, heart, metabolism, and, indeed, whole body.

Once again, there is a Japanese expression that fits here—“shikata ga nai.” The translation is that there is nothing that can be done, but the meaning is basically to let go and move on. While there are times that putting up a fight is helpful, when it comes to holding a grudge, you’ll always get the shorter end of the deal. So, let go, forgive, and forget.

Stay social

Having good relationships is a great way to bolster longevity. It will not only help you “download” and manage stress, but also keep your immune system strong.

Many of the longest living populations in the world have incorporated forming long-standing social groups into their lives. Remember though that hitting the “like” button on your social media apps doesn’t count as being social.

Keeping connected can be a challenge, especially if you’ve moved far away from friends and family, work long hours, have limited free time, or struggle with fatigue, pain, or depression. However, there are tons of ways to up your social time just a bit, including volunteering in your community, taking a class, sharing a hobby, or joining a book club.

My Nana has her lunch group and many family gatherings, and for years she was taking painting and flower arranging classes.

Laugh out loud

Even if you do get to live to 100 or longer, life is too short to spend it unhappily. Of course, that doesn’t mean being happy all the time. But don’t be shy about throwing your head back and guffawing when something tickles your funny bone.

Don’t let denial get the better of you

Taking an “it won’t happen to me” approach can cut years off your life. Denial can be our worst enemy. It keeps us from shining a light on our lifestyles and health—and blinds us to life-boosting possibilities.

Even being a little more conscientious can open the doors to some pretty big changes. When you are willing to be honest with yourself, you’ll be more apt to eat better, increase regular exercise, and listen to your healthcare providers’ advice.

While it’s good to avoid obsessing over every symptom and possible health issue, it’s also important not to ignore new, persistent, or worrisome signs like changes in bowel habits, stabbing headaches, unexplained changes in weight, new or changing moles, or chest pain. Common symptoms like bloating, fatigue, insomnia, menstrual cramps, constipation, and allergies may be things you ignore, but these are things that can and should be addressed.

Choose reishi mushroom

Called the “Mushroom of Immortality,” reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) is one of the most famous and highly revered superfood medicinal mushrooms around the globe, known for its health-boosting properties.

Boosting immunity, reducing heart disease, supporting a balanced immune system, and protecting the liver—it is easy to see why this herb has been used in China, Korea, and Japan for thousands of years to improve health and lengthen lifespans.

But there is more to this mushroom than meets the eye. Studies have shown that reishi can reduce oxidative damage and inflammation that speed up the aging process. As an adaptogen, this magnificent mushroom can help calm the nervous system and allows the body to better adapt to stressors. It also promotes cognitive function, helps protect brain cells, and improves circulation.

When it comes to helping with healthy aging and living a long, productive life, red reishi is one of the simplest additions you can make.


Dr. Melissa Carr is a registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine with a B.Sc. in Kinesiology. In practice since 2001, Dr. Carr has a passion for sharing health information. She has been a nutrition instructor and a health consultant, lecturer, and writer for 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper, Fraser Health Authority, UBC, and the David Suzuki Foundation, amongst others.