Older woman with biomarkers that indicated exceptional longevity

How to Live to 100: Check Your Blood

How to Live to 100: Check Your Blood

By Megan Grant
Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

"I am going to live forever!" you exclaim as you dip into your expensive anti-aging cream, sip your green tea and unroll your yoga mat. You're on the right track, but research has more good news for you.

A new study published in GeroScience that followed a Swedish population-based cohort up to 35 years has linked specific blood biomarkers to longer lifespans. In fact, some of these individuals are even hitting the triple digits!

This research identified 10 different biomarkers that indicated exceptional longevity, zoning in on biomarkers that indicate metabolism and nutritional status, as well as kidney and liver function. While those who lived to 100 generally had pretty similar bloodwork, among other biomarkers, the research was clear: those who lived the longest were more likely to have lower levels of glucose, creatinine and uric acid than other people.

But what does this mean for your own aging odds? Let's dive into these longevity biomarkers a bit more, what the research is telling us, how to test your own biomarkers and what you can do to live longer and make it well into your old age.

What does blood have to do with living to 100?

While there are a lot of variables at play, research is indeed finding that there are certain commonalities and patterns when it comes to people who live extraordinarily longer than average—and much of it can be measured in your blood.

The newly published study followed Swedish centenarians (individuals 100 years of age or older) and non-centenarians over the span of 35 years, starting in 1985. They compared blood biomarkers measured at earlier stages of life with measurements once they were much older.

Of over 44,000 participants, about 1,200 people (accounting for about 2.7% of all subjects) became centenarians—and they tended to share certain favorable biomarkers.

The research found that blood-based biomarkers of metabolic status and kidney and liver health were associated with living longer and becoming a centenarian. The biomarkers included total cholesterol, iron, glucose, creatinine, uric acid, ASAT, GGT, ALP, LD and total iron binding capacity.

Zooming in even more, slightly lower-than-average levels of creatinine, glucose and uric acid were common in individuals who lived into the triple digits. And a higher total cholesterol level was also linked to a greater chance of becoming a centenarian. Yes, cholesterol can be a good thing (under the right circumstances) and can help you live a long life.

How to live to 100 years old

Becoming a centenarian might be easier said than done, but there's actually no real limit to the human lifespan. In fact, the longest-living person (so far) lived until the age of 122 (technically a supercentenarian!). If you want to live as long as possible, then you want to avoid age-related diseases. Essentially, this means that when you do pass, it will simply be because you were old, not necessarily due to poor health.

But how can you boost your longevity, take control of your biological age and make it into the centenarian club? Many people think it purely comes down to genes, but how long you live goes so far beyond that. In 2022, the American Heart Association published "Life's Essential 8"—what they consider to be the pillars of good health:

  1. Diet
  2. Physical activity
  3. Nicotine exposure
  4. Sleep health
  5. Body mass index (BMI)
  6. Blood lipids
  7. Blood glucose
  8. Blood pressure

Let's talk a little more about how these eight pillars of longevity are tracked and measured and share some science-backed ways for applying them to your own life.

  1. Diet

    —Good health starts with what's on your plate! And according to the American Heart Association, that means adhering to a DASH or Mediterranean-like diet as closely as possible. DASH stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension—meaning that you literally eat to lower your blood pressure. This is beneficial because high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels are big risk factors for heart disease and stroke (and if that doesn't convince you to prioritize your diet, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States).

    While the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet differ slightly, there are certain key components in common, including an emphasis on whole, plant-based foods. These dietary patterns include four to eight servings of whole grains (like bread or oatmeal), more than four servings of vegetables, three to five servings of fruit and two to three servings of fats and oils (such as olive oil). Yes, you need healthy fats in your diet. The idea that they're bad for you is just a myth. Just look at folks in blue zones—they eat plenty of healthy fats in the form of nuts, seeds and oils. (Blue zones are regions where people live longer than average.)

    Pro tip: Our diet and the food we eat go far beyond heart health. Prioritize high-quality whole foods over processed foods and "eat the rainbow" to get as many nutrients as possible. Avoid consuming excess sugar to keep your blood sugar under control.

  2. Physical activity

    —Fact: Centenarians keep it moving. Ideally, you're getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-high intensity activity per week to get the highest score on the Life's Essential 8 scale. Is your heart rate up? Are you breaking a sweat? Then you're heading in the right direction!

    Don't forget to make time for strength training, too. This offers all sorts of benefits and helps keep your muscles and bones strong as you age. Even improving your grip strength might improve your life expectancy.

    As a related side note, be mindful of how much time you spend sitting. Doing it too much can increase your risk of chronic health problems (including heart disease). So, in addition to exercising more, you can encourage longevity by spending more time on your feet and less on your caboose.

    Hey, there's a reason why Vermont is one of the top US states to live a long life. 83.5% of the population exercises regularly. If you need help tracking your activity, try biohacking your health with wearable technology.

  3. Nicotine exposure

    —You don't need us to tell you that smoking is bad for your health. People who have never smoked score the highest here. Remember, secondhand smoke hurts your wellness, too.
  4. Sleep score

    —Sleep is vital if you want to remain healthy mentally and physically. Aim to get somewhere between seven and nine hours of slumber a night. If you struggle with this, try introducing a nightly routine. Put away your devices, dim the lights, take a hot shower—whatever you need to do to prepare your body for sleep.
  5. BMI

    —Any BMI (body mass index) measured at less than 25 will get you the highest score. A BMI between 18.5 and 25 generally means you’re at a healthy body weight, which will work in favor of your longevity.
  6. Blood lipids

    —These are graded based on non-HDL cholesterol (LDL and triglycerides). What you're looking for is less than 130 mg/dL.
  7. Blood glucose

    —Do you have no history of diabetes and a fasting blood glucose of 80-86 mg/dL or an HbA1c of between 5-5.4%? This is the optimal range for a high score and could help you get one step closer to achieving centenarian status.
  8. Blood pressure

    —Stay under 120/80 mm Hg (though 115/75 mm Hg is even better!) and you receive the top score. In addition to following a DASH-like diet, maintaining a healthy weight, moving your body regularly, reducing salt consumption in the foods you eat, limiting alcohol, avoiding smoking, managing your stress and mental health (a major public health concern) and getting adequate sleep can help support your healthy BP.

In addition to these eight pillars of health, there are certain nutrients that have been linked to a longer than average life expectancy, including those that boost NAD+, resveratrol, CoQ10 and quercetin. If you can get more of these from your diet, you're doing great.

While genes do play a role in life expectancy, establishing healthy habits is even more important. Live a healthy lifestyle, reduce your chances of age-related diseases and live forever (or for longer than the average life expectancy, at least).

How to test your blood biomarkers

The only way to know where your blood biomarkers stand is through bloodwork! You can ask your doctor to order these tests for you, or you could consider commercial kits.

Bear in mind that you'll want to have your biomarkers tested regularly so that you can monitor any changes over time. This is especially important if you make adjustments to your lifestyle habits—like changing how you eat or getting better sleep. The only way to quantitively know the impact of these changes is to be diligent in getting your bloodwork. Plus, getting regular blood tests makes it easier to spot any potential health problems you might be facing that could impact your current wellness or your general life expectancy.

How to interpret your blood lab test results

While you might be thinking that you can just turn to the internet for the answers, it's best to speak with your healthcare provider about your test results. There are so many important variables to think about that only a qualified medical professional will truly know how to navigate. They'll also be able to tell you when you should get retested.

While nothing is guaranteed, every little choice we make and every habit we instill in ourselves has the potential to keep us on this planet for longer. Follow the tips we've outlined and check your biomarkers, and you'll enjoy all sorts of long-term health benefits.



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The Life Extension Health News team delivers accurate information about vitamins, nutrition and aging. Our stories rely on multiple, authoritative sources and experts. We keep our content accurate and trustworthy, by submitting it to a medical reviewer.