Five Longevity Myths

1) “Once the cartilage is gone, it’s gone for ever”

If you look at the average older person showing up with worn-down joints and degraded or damaged cartilage, how active are they? What’s their diet? Yes, they are mostly inactive and often overweight or obese. They most probably aren’t making bone broth, or drinking collagen powder, but probably eat too much grains and do not expose themselves enough to the sun. They most probably aren’t performing squats or single leg deadlifts and hiking up mountains.

These are the things that, if anything can, will retain and regrow cartilage. Activity. Letting your body know that you still have need of your ankles, knees, and hips. That you’re still an engaged, active human interacting with the physical world.

According to this study showing that people have the same microRNAs that control tissue and limb regeneration in lizards and amphibians. They’re most strongly expressed in the ankle joints, less so in the knees, and even less so at the hip—but they’re there, and they’re active.

2) “Retire Early”

Not necessarily a piece of bad advice at all (J) but retiring and then ceasing all engagement with the outside world can reduce longevity. Having a life purpose is essential for living long and living well and less risky for early mortality.

People who get retired early and make it work for their health and longevity are staying active. They’re pursuing side projects or even big visions. They have friends, hobbies and enjoy family life.

Those who don’t can be at increased risk of dying early.

Maintain your mission, whatever you do.

3) “Don’t Lift Heavy”

…or you will throw out your back. Lifting as safely and heavy as you can be essential for healthy longevity.

Lean muscle mass is one of the strongest predictors of resistance to mortality. The more muscle you got (and the stronger they are), the longer you can live—all else being equal. That goes for both genders men and women.

Why is that? One reason is that the stronger you are, the more capable you are. You’re better at taking care of yourself, standing up from chairs, ascending stairs, and maintaining basic functionality as you age.

Another reason is that increased lean mass means greater tissue reserve —you have more organ and muscle to lose as you age, so that when aging-related muscle loss sets in, you have longer to go before it gets serious. And that does not mean that you’ll lose any. As long as you’re still lifting heavy things, you probably won’t lose much muscle, if any.

It doesn’t have to be free weights, HIIT and CrossFit. It can be machines, bodyweight, and hikes. What matters is that you lift intensely but safely, with good posture, technique, and control.

4) “Avoid Animal Protein to Lower IGF-1”

Not easy to follow all the advice out there such as “Animal protein has all sorts of evil stuff” or “Methionine reduces longevity in animal models”, or increased IGF-1 promotes growth that might lead to cancer.

Yet, an extensive study showed that those 65 or older, increased animal protein intake actually protected against mortality. The older they were and the more protein they ate, the longer they lived.

Low-protein diets have been shown to have all sorts of negative effects with regards to longevity:

recent review of the animal and human evidence found that while a couple of human studies show an inverse relationship between IGF-1 and longevity, several more show a positive relationship—higher IGF-1, longer lifespan—and the majority show no clear relationship at all.

5) “Take It Easy As You Get Older”

As older people, we’re told to “take the elevator to save our knees” or that sex might be “too strenuous for the heart”, or they tell us “Oh, don’t get up, I’ll get it for you.”

On the contrary stay vigorous and vivacious. Don’t be foolhardy, mind you. Be engaged.

“Take it easy” can quickly convert you in a ” couch potato” watching TV all day long. Don’t let it happen. That’s not to say you shouldn’t rest. Rest is everything. Sleep is important. But better earn your rest, and when you have the energy, take advantage of it.

Needless to say, that there is a tiny bit of truth in many of these myths. We of course should all be careful lifting heavy things and pay close attention to posture and technique. Everyone should care for their cartilage and avoid damage to it.

What we all need to avoid is sending the message to our body, brain, and cells that we’re done. That we’ve given up and our active, engaged life is effectively over. Because when that happens, it truly is over.

Keep it up!

Your Youdowell Team


  • Science News: “Humans have salamander-like ability to regrow cartilage in joints”. October 9, 2019: Duke University Medical Center
  • Psychosomatic Medicine: October 2019: Volume 81 – Issue 8. Online ISSN: 1534-7796
  • Epidemiol Community Health. September 2016: 70(9):917-23. doi: 10.1136/jech-2015-207097. Epub 2016 Mar 21. Association of retirement age with mortality: a population-based longitudinal study among older adults in the USA. Wu C, Odden MC, Fisher GG, Stawski RS
  • TheBMJ: 2008; 337 doi: (Published 01 July 2008)Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a439. Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: prospective cohort study
  • Mayo Clin Proc. 2017 May; 92(5):710-718. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2017.01.023. The Combined Association of Skeletal Muscle Strength and Physical Activity on Mortality in Older Women: The HUNT2 Study. Karisen T, Naumann J, Dalen H, Langhammer A, Wisloff U.
  • Nutr Neurosci. 2003 Oct;6 (5):269-75. Effects of an oral mixture containing glycine, glutamine and niacin on memory, GH and IGF-I secretion in middle-aged and elderly subjects. Arwert L, Dejen JB, Drent ML.


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