The Longevity Book - Cameron Diaz

by Jo Macdonald

I recently read ‘The Longevity Book’ by Cameron Diaz and I've got to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting much - apologies to you Cameron for wondering if it was all just a bit of celebrity hype.  But, I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be very readable and full of great information about getting older.  

Cameron (I feel like we're friends now), wrote the book because as she approached her 40th birthday the conversation around her, particularly in interviews, became focused on one thing - was she 'scared' of turning 40.  Instead of yelling 'Hell, YES!' and running for the botox she adopted the same philosophy as we have here at Loving Life After Forty and chose to embrace her age and educate herself as much as possible about what was ahead. 

‘The best way to age well isn’t to worry about aging. It’s to live well’
— Cameron Diaz

The book is split into 3 sections and covers a large amount of scientific research and information on aging, plus plenty of tips for how we can all age better and longer.  Most of it is common sense, but when it is backed up by data and research we can start to see how so many simple things such as connection, sleep, exercise and nutrition, have a huge impact on our longevity and the quality of our aging.  Cameron explains that whilst our genes are important and do play a role in how well we age, an even bigger factor is the choices we make and the life we choose to live - the environment, stress factors, nutrition, love etc. - these can all have positive or negative effects on age related diseases.  So sorry ladies, no more blaming your Great Auntie Hilda for the way you're aging!

One of my favourite discoveries in this book was the research of Dr Becca Levy (a Yale Researcher) who found that when people are exposed to positive attitudes about aging they actually show improvements in their physical ability.  In other words just by feeling positive about getting older we can actually age better.  How great is that!  An excellent reason to hang out here more often.

5 THINGS THAT I LOVED LEARNING: 

1 - Stress is a key thing to combat if we want to age well and live longer, so effective stress management using tools such as daily meditation for example is a key wellness tool after 40.  

2 - Your brain does not fully mature physically until you are about 25 – Okay, I know this doesn't have much to do with being over 40 but it sure does explain a LOT of things about my teenage kids and gives me a very good out for some things I did earlier in my life! 

3 - More brain info that I loved - Bilingual people delay dementia by over 4 years so this is a great reason to finally take classes in that language you’ve always wanted to learn. In fact the more interests and hobbies we have the less likely we are to develop dementia, and even listening to or playing music can protect your brain from aging. 

4 - Get connected - loneliness affects our overall wellbeing and longevity.  The common causes and markers of aging such as inflammation and cognitive decline, have been linked to social activity, happiness and community.  Even 10 minutes of social interaction improves our cognitive performance, and rapid aging actually decreases when we have good friends and show kindness and support to those around us.  

5 - A sedentary lifestyle ages and weakens us which reduces longevity - okay, so most of us know that sitting around all day isn't good, but did you know that exercise also improves brain function and so not only keeps our body fit but also our mind? Balance is something that also starts to deteriorate as we get older so doing exercise that strengthens our bones, core muscles and balance (such as yoga or pilates) is a key part of reducing the effects of this.

Overall, I think that 'The Longevity Book' is a great read and one I highly recommend diving into.  There's a lot of science-y stuff in it but actually learning why things happen in our body as well as how to counter them is very empowering.  It is definitely a positive part of the conversation around embracing Loving Life After Forty - what more could we ask.