Pillars of Longevity - Live a Better, More Fulfilling Life


Many of us are living longer, but not necessarily better. Aside from the latest medical advances, there are key habits that have been proven to not only extend your life but optimize your health as you age. This concept of health as you age is known as your health span.

Traditionally, life span has been at the forefront of aging research for what feels like a millennium. Although substantial improvements in this area of research have found evidence of a variety of factors that can extend life, the quality of that life should be just as significant. 

Life span vs. Health span

In order to explore how life span and health span differ, it’s also important to understand the substantial differences in each person’s individual biochemistry. General factors can improve health in some ways, but each person may find their own unique needs require a more personalized approach. 

Many scientists have sought out answers to these individual variations in our DNA, looking for hereditary trends to predict better results. But your genes are not your destiny.

Instead, the answers to longevity are found in the everyday environmental changes our body experiences each moment. To find a resolution toward optimal health, scientists are now exploring epigenetic factors to examine how your everyday decisions can make a bigger impact on your life ten, twenty, or more years from now. 

By considering daily habits, diet, and even mindset in your health journey, you may likely find a more profound recentering of heath that can sustain your life - with quality - in ways that are unique and personalized to you.

Here we’ll unpack the 6 research-backed pillars of longevity for a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life. Let’s dig in.

Pillar 1 - Stay physically active

Moving your body is essential to your physical and mental health as you age. Over time our hormone levels begin to shift, increasing the risk of bone density and muscle mass loss. This loss doesn’t have to be inevitable - it can be counteracted by staying active.

A combination of regular cardio and strength training exercises is best, but the most important thing is you keep moving and engage in exercise that you enjoy. If you love what you’re doing, you’ll want to keep coming back for more, and it will improve your mental health as well.

Strong evidence has shown regular physical activity has beneficial effects on well-being, health, and longevity. If you’re not currently active, starting with even 2-3 times a week will yield big benefits.1

Pillar 2 - Maintain social connections

We as humans are social beings by nature, but some cultures may be more isolated. There is a clear connection between increased lifespan seen in cultures with strong social ties. Not only do these communities lead longer lives, but they also report having more fulfillment and joy in their life.2

Stay connected with family, friends, and colleagues as often as possible. It doesn’t have to be a large number of people if that feels overwhelming - having more meaningful relationships with just a few people may be even more valuable in your life. 

Pillar 3 - Eating a whole food-based diet

There are certain dietary patterns associated with long-term health and longevity. In particular, a whole-food diet that is mostly plant-based may be best. 

Those who reside in the Blue Zones, specific regions where people tend to live longer than average, tend to eat primarily a plant-based diet with little red meat. These types of whole-food, minimally processed diets appear to be the most closely linked to longevity and improved healthspan.3

However, diet is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all, and employing a personalized diet and supplement regimen can support optimal health. This personalization is also known as precision nutrition

New research in this area has shown that there is more to our food choices than our own preferences. Beneath the skin (and indeed, on it!) are various microbes that require their own unique diet to help work in synergy with our body to support truly holistic health.

Pillar 4 - Get proper sleep

Most people don’t get enough sleep, many times being at the bottom of the priority list. But adequate sleep is key for rest, recovery, and preserving optimal health as you age. 

Set yourself up for success by establishing a healthy sleep routine. Going to bed and waking up around the same time each day, limiting blue light and screens before bed, and calming the mind with meditation or reading can help improve your sleep quality. 

Pillar 5 - Reduce stress

While some level of stress is part of life and can actually challenge you, chronic or uncontrolled stress can reduce lifespan. This type of stress, in particular, has been shown to speed up the aging process and increase the risk of disease.4 

The good news is that you can reduce your daily stress levels with simple lifestyle changes. Many of the other pillars of longevity, such as exercise, getting proper sleep, and eating a nutritious diet, all work together to reduce stress hormone levels and serve as self-care. 

Something as simple as taking long, deep breaths can bring your stress down significantly in the moment. If your level of stress is affecting your daily life, consulting with a supportive friend, family member, or therapist can provide guidance on how to best manage it. 

Pillar 6 - Create a sense of purpose

It’s easy to move through life just by going through the motions of your daily responsibilities. But having a sense of purpose and intention in life is a necessary feature of longevity.

According to research, there is a strong link between those with a higher sense of purpose and a longer life. This connection was seen across all genders, races, and ethnicities.5

You can create a sense of purpose in your life in several ways - through your paid work, from volunteering, pursuing a new passion, or caring for loved ones. Finding ways to meet new people is another way to gain more purpose, as staying socially connected can do this all on its own.

Adopt these Pillars of Longevity one step at a time

These 6 key pillars of longevity work in synergy to support healthy aging. By staying active, eating well, prioritizing sleep, reducing stress, maintaining social connections and a sense of purpose, you will be well on your way to a more fulfilling life ahead.

Keep in mind you do not need to apply all of these pillars all at once - adopting even half of these pillars will set you up on the path to improving longevity and experiencing a higher quality of life.

More importantly, adopt these pillars in ways that are specific to you, choosing activities that bring you joy, maintaining and building relationships that support your own growth, and boosting your consumption of foods that enrich not just your genetics, but the entire ever-changing biological system that is you and your microbiome.


  1. Rennemark M, Jogréus C, Elmståhl S, Welmer AK, Wimo A, Sanmartin-Berglund J. Gerontol Geriatr Med. 2018 Jul 20;4:2333721418786565. doi: 10.1177/2333721418786565. PMID: 30046648; PMCID: PMC6055105.

  2. Yang YC, Boen C, Gerken K, Li T, Schorpp K, Harris KM. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Jan 19;113(3):578-83. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1511085112. Epub 2016 Jan 4. PMID: 26729882; PMCID: PMC4725506.

  3. Ekmekcioglu C. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020;60(18):3063-3082. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2019.1676698. Epub 2019 Oct 21. PMID: 31631676.

  4. Yegorov YE, Poznyak AV, Nikiforov NG, Sobenin IA, Orekhov AN. Biomedicines. 2020 Jul 7;8(7):198. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines8070198. PMID: 32645916; PMCID: PMC7400286.

  5. Shiba K, Kubzansky LD, Williams DR, VanderWeele TJ, Kim ES. Preventive Medicine. 2022;164:107310. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2022.107310