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Keys to a long and healthy life

He does it in the book “Young at any age” (HarperCollins). With her latest work, Mera aims precisely to explain that yes, a long and healthy life is possible, ultimately a happy ageing, because the concept of youth is “relative”, as she asserts in an interview with EFESalut.

Mera received in 2021 the European Awards In Medicinewhich accredits him as the best European doctor in the field of antiaging medicine and is responsible for Internal Medicine and Antiaging at SHA Wellness Clinic, in Alicante.

Aging, a success for living longer

“Aging is a successful formula for living longer”, reflects the expert, which is why it should not be seen as a negative thing but “quite the opposite”.

It is the way life has developed in some species to stay longer on earth, which is what it is all about, adds Mera, who assures that the human being is perfectly capable and designed to live 120 years.

long life
Dr. Vicente Mera during the interview with EFESalut. PHOTO EFESalut/Lucía Manchón

Most people get sick as they get older. But there is another group of people, like Queen Elizabeth II of England, who has died at the age of 96, without having any major illness. Genetics play an important role in this regard.

“If we compare aging with the inherited car, they hand it to us, we don’t buy it. Our parents with their means give us a car and what we have to do is get to know this car and adapt it to the circumstances. But it’s not because we have a Ferrari that we have a better car than a Land Rover”, explains Mera.

Age, a multiple concept

And the fact is that many times the concept of age is “multiple”. The age is what you put on the passport and this cannot be changed, but there are others: that of the physical appearance, which can be modified, and the most important thing is that both go from the hand

“The most important thing is not to change the sheet metal and paint of the car and leave the engine in bad shape. In other words, what is ideal is to fix the two things together”, adds Mera, since the goal is that the quality and quantity of life “are indissolubly united, until the end of days”.

Mera remembers that health is not only the absence of disease, but also the feeling of physical, mental, emotional and social well-being during a long life.

He adds a third age, the subjective, that of “how we feel”. At this point, you need to be able to take the time to know if you feel young or not.

“At this moment you need to do an examination of conscience, it is not only a physical problem, it is also mental, social, spiritual and depending on these aspects, decide whether you are younger or not and if you really are not younger than you should be if so, you have to seek help”.

Simple measures that only require time

Sometimes this help requires financial means, but the others are “very simple measures” to achieve a long and happy life. Specifically, seven, which can be summarized in three. “They don’t cost, they are free, the only thing they require is time”.

Food, physical exercise and the management of emotions are the main protagonists, to which we must add a fourth, sleep.

When it comes to food, Mera emphasizes above all the importance of quantity.

EFE/Rungroj Yongrit

“The first thing is not to obsess, whoever obsesses has a problem. Busy would be the word. I always prioritize quantity over quality, the frugal over the excellent, if you had to decide, choose the frugal, you will never go wrong.”

What is sensible is to adapt the amount of calories to our daily life and use local products.

The key: the Japanese island of Okinawa

Mera explains that all her patients wanted a long life but also shed pounds and years at the same time. Therefore, he traveled around the world in search of answers and found them on the Japanese island of Okinawa.

“In Okinawa it is where people live longer, where they are more efficient from a biological point of view, meaning by efficiency we take the greatest number of these 120 years that we have, here they live a hundred years without problems”, says Mera, who puts the accent on a term used there: the Hara Hachi Bu.

“They eat little, frugal and that’s success”, they don’t fill up when they eat, their stomach is always a little empty.

“In the Western world calculate the fara hachi bu it’s very easy At lunch and dinner there is an aperitif, starter, main and dessert. On the day you eat dessert, don’t have an appetizer, but always have the main dish”, he points out.

And this is also where superfoods come into play. What Mera stands out above all is the miso soup, which nourishes and suppresses the appetite, and is also full of probiotics. In the book he lists several of these superfoods to round out the diet.

Long life nutrition
PHOTO EFE/Kai Försterling

What are anti-foods? Number one is sugar. And gluten or lactose in some people, since in addition to paying attention to food, you need to pay attention to the body’s ability to absorb it

Physical exercise and the management of emotions

For a long and happy life, Mera recommends a minimum of fifteen minutes of exercise every day, but not the marathon type, unless you are a professional. The ideal is to combine strength exercises, such as weights, and work on the core (musculature of the body center), with small exercises: squats, pull-ups… and then a walk. You need to take about ten thousand steps a day.

He also proposes dancing, with which, in addition to doing cardiovascular exercise, you socialize, sweat and smile.

And how do you manage emotions? There are foods that help and also exercise, which provides happiness, by releasing a number of substances.

Stress is in the spotlight, however, Mera assures that it is not bad, it is not the enemy to beat, but its effects on the body. For this reason, among others, he cites simple techniques such as meditation or Tai Chi.

And we are left with sleep, which has to do with emotions, food and exercise. If you eat a lot, you generally sleep worse. If you exercise, you will rest better.

Hormones, a symphony

Mera does not forget the role that hormones play in aging. They vary with age and sex. And here you do need expert staff.

happy retirees
Elderly couples dance dansó in Havana, Cuba/Alejandro Ernesto

“I don’t understand how a person can have an opinion so easily about cortisol or melatonin, when they are very complex things, it is the most medical aspect and requires more training,” he emphasizes.

And it is that “hormones are like a symphony”, a change in one “may be able to change the coordinates and the points of reference and go from health to illness”, adds Mera, who is also not forgotten in his book of the toxinsthe substances we introduce into the body that are harmful, such as alcohol or tobacco, among others.

Regarding toxins, he points out that more knowledge is needed on the part of the public, because they are also found in food.

“People are experts in Hollywood artists, in television series but not in additives and dyes, is one of the reasons for the book, to bring this group to which they are interested. Because when you read a label you can be a little more aware”, he emphasizes.

Signs of accelerated aging

There are signs to know when we are aging before our time. When our physical appearance is deteriorated, always comparing ourselves to people our age.
And when we have the feeling that we do not have the strength, or the energy that those who have the same chronological age.

Healthy life fatigue
EFE/Orlando Barría

Indicators that should make us think about asking for expert help. And also when there are problems with some of the discussed pillars such as food, exercise, sleep or hormones.

“These are warning signs, you have to think… Am I doing the exercise I should be doing? What do I do to mitigate stress? and To improve sleep?”, points out the expert.

Also, you don’t just have to worry about aging healthily when you reach a certain age, you also have to think about it when you’re young. “The younger you are, the cheaper and easier the mortgage is and the simpler it is to plan everything, the only thing you need to do are small waivers at a certain time”, maintains Mera.

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