You are listening to the Darren Wilson Show, I'm Darren, I spent the last 20 years devoted to improving health, protecting the environment and finding ways to live a more sustainable life. In this podcast, I have honest conversations with people that inspire me. I hope that through their knowledge and unique perspectives, they'll inspire you to. We talk about all kinds of topics from amping up your diets and improving your well-being to the mind blowing stories behind the human experience and the people that are striving to save us and our incredible planet.
We've investigated some of life's fatal conveniences. You know, those things that we are told might be good for us, but totally aren't. So here's to making better choices and the small tweaks in your life that amount to big changes for you and the people around you and the planet. Let's do this. This is my show, The Darren Olean Show.
Hey, everybody, welcome to the show. I have stoked you here, this is an incredible show. I am blown away and also had an inkling of what this was about. My next guest delivered not only in the episode, but in her book, Growing Young. This guest, Marta Xhaka, a Canadian science writer, she's been published in The Washington Post. Scientific America, The Atlantic goes on and on and on. And she put a ton of research and work or reading six hundred to a thousand research articles finding out what makes us tick in terms of what keeps us young, what keeps us vibrant.
All of these things. And you're like, OK, well, she's going to tell us what to eat. She's going to tell us how to sleep. She's going to tell us all these things. So her new book, Growing Young How Friendship, Optimism, Kindness Can Help You Live to 100. That is what she discovered. All of the research that was overwhelming dominance in supporting you, feeling better, looking better and driving you towards a healthy century and pace of living to 100.
She revealed that literally this is the best news ever, that friendship, optimism, kindness is a super elixir. The chemistry that goes on your body, that creates Baso Pressin serotonin and other beneficial oxytocin. All of these things, plus many things, more looking deeply into your dog's eyes, even in your children, into your spouse, into your loved ones, is a powerful way to receive superfoods from the inside out. OK, so I really love what Martha has put together.
It is such a pleasure to talk with her. I've had inklings of this through other researchers that I've looked at this in terms of community and connection and love and kindness. It gives us so much on the very chemical, biological level that it helps us move forward in life. So please welcome another round of applause. My next guest, Marta Sariska. He wrote this amazing book called Growing Young, I love that title. How was it how friendship, optimism and kindness can help you grow young or at least live to one hundred?
So that's awesome. So what led you to writing this book and and putting these pieces together? Because I think a lot of people say that. But what did you actually find being a science writer?
So it came quite naturally from my professional work. As you've mentioned, I'm a science writer. I write for Scientific American, for The Washington Post, for scientists and several other publications.
And I was writing for them about things like nutrition psychology, how to live healthy and how to live healthy, both physically and mentally as well. And at the same time, in my private life, I was always into healthy living, so into eating well into exercising. And I was trying to stay on track with all the diets and foods that were people are thinking about and where I was supposed to be eating and so on. And at the same time at work, I was coming across more and more research that was pointing into a very different direction from what I was doing at my private life and basically showing that although diet and exercise are important, they may be things out there that I was not doing and which were actually at least as important, if not more important, for health and longevity than diet and exercise.
And it was kindness, optimism, friendship, investing in your romantic relationship. So all of those things I call self drivers of health, that's after reading hundreds of research papers and talking to dozens of scientists, which I did for writing Growing Young. I know now I know better. And I know that even though, you know, diet and exercise are still something we should be doing, but maybe not as much as I was putting an effort into it before.
I was obsessing too much about all the organics and miracle foods and fad diets and exercise and so on. And at the same time, you know, now I know it's more important to spend more time on friendship or on volunteering, for instance, or developing my personality than perhaps chasing another fad diets. Wow, that's really awesome to hear that, because it's so easy for us to reduce things down to like, well, just tell me what to do.
And it's easy to focus on the diets and the nutrition and all of that stuff, because that's the physical stuff that we think is going to create all this change. And I love that you're pointing to this other thing. So I can only imagine because I'm certainly come from that world of super foods and the foods in general and supplements. And then that moment for you when you saw overwhelming evidence to support this this whole other aspects of of your health, what was that like?
And then let's unpack what you actually found.
And so, you know, for me, it was in a way, a great relief to find that I didn't have to obsess so much about my diet and about all the perfect foods I was supposed to be eating. All that I was supposed to be downloading all the supplements I was supposed to do was in a way, the things I describe in Growing Young, they are simple, is about taking a walk with your friends. It's about being kind to people around you, about trying to be more optimistic and more pleasurable.
And simply it involves less chasing, less kind of panic running around, trying to find the next best thing and just looking backwards and connecting to the people around you and to yourself as well, which I find in a way rewarding. And when you know, the fact that the things that make us in a way better as people. So becoming exactly kinder and more empathetic, more optimistic, less neurotic, they also help us stay younger and healthier. It's kind of very satisfying to me.
This is why I call the book growing, because it's about growing as a person and staying young and healthy. So doing amazing.
I love that. And so what was the. Because obviously, I love the fact that you're digging into the hundreds and hundreds of science articles. And like, I'm curious, like because I believe that at my core, like my intuition tells me, everything you're saying is correct. And I've seen evidence. So like I said a little bit. But as you are scouring all of this research, what was it that was overwhelmingly obvious? What were the.
The moments and the scientific journals that kept pointing you in these directions, I wanted to address one.
The first one thing that you've mentioned before and when you were talking about diet and exercise, you said that these are kind of physical things, whereas the other things I was thinking about kind of maybe they're less physical. But the truth is that there are as physical as diet and exercise because our faults, our social life, the way we connect with other people, this is all connected to our health on a very biological level. And the reason for that is that we have evolved that way.
We are social apes, right? We are just like our cousins, chimpanzees. We've evolved to be surrounded by our tribe. And the way we connect to our tribe of ours is extremely important for our well-being. So this is, for example, connected to our stress response to our fight or flight response, which is some parts of it are, for example, that is the hypertonic the adrenal axis or the connecting our brain with the whole soup of hormones to the rest of our body, including things like cortisol, for example.
And when we are with other people, the stress response functions the best because we feel safe basically when we are with our tribe. And when you are alone in the evolutionary past of being alone on the savanna, you are facing a lot of potential dangers and predators accident. And so the stress response was in overdrive. And the same thing happens to us today when we are lonely, when we're socially isolated. Our stress response to on the savannah, of course, we are in a very different situation.
We are isolated for very different reasons and being lonely for different reasons. But our bodies don't understand that and they are. And this is how, for example, this perpetual activation of our stress systems leads to things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, because the wrong systems are on in a way, when we are away from our tribe.
Right. So those those isolated systems trigger that sympathetic response and then that stays on for a long period of time. And, you know, it's funny, I'm kind of laughing because I'm more I'm not in an urban area.
I'm not in a row. I'm not living in a family unit. Just that alone. I'm laughing. As you're listening to this, I get a huge amount of comfort just having my dog around and, you know, dogs, actually, there is research showing that because we are so dogs are so domesticated, they really evolve to be connected to humans. And because of that, our relationship is kind of special. And there is research showing that, for example, when you are looking deeply into your dog's eyes, when you are putting your dog, you'll get a boost of oxytocin.
So this love hormone and the dog as well gets a boost of oxytocin. And this is a hormone, one of social hormones. There's another connection between our mental lives and our socialized health because, for example, oxytocin. So on the one hand, it makes you feel all warm and love and happy and connected, for example, to your dog or to your friends or to your loved one. And on the other hand, it has a very physiological effects on everybody.
So, for example, it can have anti inflammatory properties, it can promote bone growth. So it's very physiological as well. And we have other hormones like this as well. Social hormones. We have serotonin, we have suppressed endorphins and they are all both connected. How we are relating to others, how we how much we trust them, for example, and how our body functions. So endorphins, for example, the relief, pain, serotonin can control liver function.
So so it's really very, very physiological.
I love that. And listen, I've been a superfood hunter for twenty years, always looking out to find compounds or super foods superfood like all kinds of stuff. But I'm listening and I'm like, well, we have a chemistry set inside of our body and vasopressin oxytocin serotonin. And you're saying saying by this community, by this connection we are creating from inside these incredible longevity producing healthy, happy, joyful compounds that is not outside in that is actually inside out.
Right. So these things are happening inside of us, helping us to live, as you say, grow young, as well as be happy and joyful, because those things it's like they both work together. It's like hanging around people feels good. And then by hanging around people, it produces all of these beneficial compounds. So it's almost like we need to acknowledge this incredible chemistry set that's going on, but we so easily want to blow off the side of it.
And now, more than ever, I mean, think about this, this traumatic year that we've had.
Yeah. When when we've all probably been starved of oxytocin. In a way that's never occurred on the planet, at least with this type of population, like from that perspective, I mean, we actually from a health perspective, we need to actually start doing the opposite. Let's just leave the disease or viruses aside, but literally to to live a healthy life. We need to come together. We need to be around loved ones.
I mean, certainly from the whole kind of perspective of this year. I live in France, so we had extremely tough lockdowns or two of them. The third one may be looming and we were not even allowed to go more than zero point six miles away from our houses. And even for that, we needed permission, actual written permission to leave the front door. So the first one was 50. Today is the second one just ended up two months as well.
So four months in a lockdown like that. So it was a really, really tough answer. And certainly, you know, this kind of disconnection is very hard on our bodies because. Exactly we didn't evolve to be so separated. And even though we have to do it these days to say coronavirus safe, but yes, it's tough. You and so as I mentioned before, you know, this kind of physical contact, I I've said that you look in your dog's eyes a get the oxytocin release, but it's the same when you give other people a much stronger right.
Even when you are touching, when you're hugging, you get the release of those social hormones. We even exchange microbes with people around us. So when you are, for example, playing contact sports, you are exchanging microbes with the other team. We exchange microbes with people with whom we are spending time together. So and as we know of, the diversity of our gut microbes is extremely important for our health. So and the more that is your friendships, the more diverse your gut microbiome.
So so are we are physical. We need to be physically around other people and hopefully we soon will be able to do that again because it's tough on us, even though I'm still optimistic that this whole period of lockdowns was short enough that it won't really have a large impact on our physical health. But it didn't last that much longer than it would. It would be tough.
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Guys, go get some. And being as though that how important you feel now that you have looked at all of this research and you've written this book on it, if you were to put optimism, community connection, all of that, would you say that all of those things I want to make a point here. It's it's a full circle of everything. But I feel it's almost more important than eating the perfect food, even though Whole Foods and all of that is extremely important.
I mean, I don't have to even do it myself because I was very conveniently for me, one meta analysis of studies. So it's kind of golden standard of research that I describe in Growing Young. And the scientist who did the analysis, they actually very conveniently for us, calculated that and they did come to a conclusion that this kind of social integration thing. So being connected to your friends, to your family, to your neighbors community, also having a romantic partner, all those things together can lower your mortality risk by about sixty five percent, which is huge because for diet and exercise is usually somewhere between 20 and 30 percent.
So you had sixty five percent there and 20 to 30 percent for diet and exercise. This is even bigger than ditching smoking if you smoke two packs per day, which of course doesn't mean you should give you are connected to your community. Keep smoking. Of course not. Do so the best of your you quit smoking and you're connected to community and health and so on. But just to show you a perspective on how important these things are and, you know, even W.H, also World Health Organization may recognize this kind of social integration, part of longevity and health, how important it is for us to stay healthy and live long.
Yeah, we've kind of reduced ourselves in a certain way to. Right. Even even if we live in our apartments, we live in our thing. Many people don't know their neighbors. Even through through a decade, a quarter of Americans still don't know their neighbors.
So that's how it goes.
So that's a real start. That's a lot of people. That's over one hundred million people that don't even know their neighbors. And so what does community mean? Like when you're looking at some of the the studies, like how often how many people? Like, what does that look like? And then maybe we can unpack a little bit in the same way friendship and all of those things. And optimism on what granularly? What does that actually look like?
Because when you say community there, maybe some people say, listen, I get together with my friends once a week, but and then in their minds, they're like, see, I have community. Maybe that's not even making a statistical difference of community and maybe it has to be daily. I don't even know. Right. So what are what are some of your thoughts around that and what are some of the research?
So generally in your research, the more people you have that you really kind of connect to, the better for you in general. Right. And I don't mean this kind of so-called connections on Facebook. It's always about real life. Right. So if you the more people you can name that, you know, what's going on in their life, that's kind of you are in regular contact. So, for example, there was one study that very conveniently also put all these numbers together.
And what the scientists did, they they asked the people in the research to name if you could name 20 people with whom you have contacts, at least I think it was once per month. And their names and you know what's going on in their lives, then you are. So then then you have a good social connection. Right. So I think the minimum there was like 16, if you could name up to 20. So that was kind of a good number of people that you have contact at least once a month.
And then you can then you know what's going on in their lives. But generally, the more people like that you have in your life, the better for you with with neighbors. For example, I have a whole chapter on Japan. In ingrowing Yangon's one rule, the Japanese have decided the longest lift people out. So there is something to learn from them, certainly. And they have a rule that says that stays, that you should be friends with people, with your neighbors in three houses in front of your house and two houses on the sides of your house.
So it's called the rule of five. So I think if you apply something like this, that's if you know their names and if you know what's going on in their lives, that's that's already a nice connection to your little neighborhood. And so when it comes to friends, though, so I'm often asked, what about introverts versus extroverts? Right. And I ask this question to Professor Robin Dunbar, who the inventor of the so called Dunbar number. So he play.
Basically, how many friends we can have based on the on the size of our prefrontal cortex and and he came up with the number one hundred fifty that's done by number, that we can only support really real relationships with about hundred fifty people. But when I ask him exactly how many close friends do we need to be healthy, he said that it really depends on the person. So for example, for one, for someone it will be just one very close friends with whom they can confide, who they know will be always there for them.
Another person may need three or even five grades. And if you feel that your needs are met, that you really have someone on whom you can whom we can trust, with whom you can always talk, who will always be there for you to drive you to the airport with the doctor and so on, then you were fine. But for someone is maybe five, they may need really need five people like this and they only have four. They're unhappy.
Another person will be fine with one, but definitely zero is not good. If you have no one in whom you can confide, no one who will come in the middle of the night to bring you something hot, then that is not good. So and then and in terms of frequency, generally, research shows up once a week is fine. So if you meet your friends once a week, then you are certainly fine. If is once a month, then it's probably not enough.
So just making sure to put into your calendar that you really see your friends once a week, that's then that is good. And of course the more it's always the better. You know, the, the, if you see them every day, all the better for you. Hmm.
That's interesting because I have a I have a pod of guys that I work out with and we know each other. We know everything that's going on in each other's lives. We support each other. And I see them every day, pretty much every day, and work out with them, joke around with them. And I'm telling you that with a little bit of covid came in there and we stayed away from each other for a bit until we knew more and that I could feel that like I really missed that connection.
And let's let's just dip into the detriments that you see in the research around when people are lacking all of these things. You know, obviously, the cortisol levels and the fight or flight we touched on. But what are some of the research and the overwhelming research that's showing like how detrimental it is to be isolated, to not have enough friendship, to not be connected, to not be optimistic? I want to dive into that a little bit, too.
So what is the other side is looking like and maybe a way to wake people up to go? Listen, this is this is carcinogenic to to be in a way.
I mean, so yeah. So, for example, people who are lonely, they have different gene expression that is related to cancer progression, for instance. So you are talking about different expression of genes. It's very, very biological. They also have shorter telomeres. So this protective caps of the ends of chromosomes does take part in the aging process. Right. In general, they they have two and a half to three times higher risk of premature death, you know, two and a half to three times higher.
This is huge, right?
You're finding isolated from from being isolated and lonely. So so it's so important. For example, in the UK, they now have a ministry for loneliness precisely because they recognize that this costs a lot to the health care system. For example, you know, people who are isolated, they suffer exactly more diabetes, more cardiovascular problems, and it costs health care. Hence, they have a minister for loneliness. So there's something also for the policymakers to recognise that these things are important and optimise as well.
Optimism can add ten years of life. So, you know, I guess you said you are very optimistic yourself. So there you go, 10 extra years and so on. And there are other factors as well that we haven't even mentioned before. One is, for example, finding meaning and purpose in life. That's another thing that's that's really important for for our cardiovascular health, for instance, or things like not being neurotic, which is kind of similar to being optimistic, is not exactly the same thing on the opposite side.
But it's another is a personality trait that can be changed as well, because even though it is genetic in some part of personality, whether you're optimistic, whether you're extroverts, whether you're a neurotic or not, but but more and more research now is showing that actually we can change this kind of personality traits as well or develop them. So in a similar way, you work on your exercise, right? You even though we are all born with different types of muscles and not everybody is born with the same potential to be on the Olympic.
We certainly I am not, but but it doesn't mean I stop exercising. It doesn't mean I stop trying to run longer, faster and so on. I still try and is the same with optimism, with empathy, for instance, as well. You can work on it. You can day by day. You can exercise it a little and become more optimistic, more empathetic, more less neurotic, more conscientious. That's another thing that's really important for health conscientiousness.
So this kind of propensity to be on time to keep your desk clean and pay your bills on time is actually so important for help that one scientist with whom I talked for when I was researching Growing Young, he told me that if that could be a pill, it would be the most powerful drug on Earth. So, so so there are some of the things that you can still improve and work on that are very important for how long we live.
While so the conscientiousness is really a very powerful and the empathy and the. So what are what do you think some of the the tools or the skills people could use to work on some of those things? Because, you know, certainly I don't know if anyone's running around saying, well, maybe some people are self analyzed enough to saying I'm a pessimist. There are. But some people aren't aware of it. They're they're just this is who I am, quote unquote.
And then they don't realize that they can actually change. What are some of the things that people could do to cultivate more optimism, potentially more conscientiousness, more empathy? What are what are some things that you found that that people could work on to develop those? Yeah.
So, for example, for conscientiousness and generally for personality traits, there is one great study I describe in Growing Young and with lots of examples as well. But in the short, short version is that you basically fake it until you make it so you just behave. Those tiny little things like habits, everyday small behavior. Is that as if you already work on it? So for example, one day you will say, I will clean my desk today.
Just one thing, right? Next day you are you will pay one bill, just small, small steps like trying to behave like a consensus basis. All of you are, for example, trying to be more extroverted. You can one day try to chat up the person at the checkout desk, the story, or you can call someone, just one person. So you try to kind of do small behaviors that lead in a way to becoming more extroverted with optimism is a little bit different, especially usually the cognitive behavioral therapy.
So just kind of trying to change your thought patterns, right. Trying to catch yourself when you are thinking something negative, like saying things like I will never or it will always drive things like this and try to reframe it. Is it really never going to be easy? All we really always. Right. And what is the worst case that can really happen? Right. So this is kind of there's plenty of books out there that actually can teach you to become more optimistic.
You order to change these kind of patterns. And it actually really does work. And with things that neuroticism, which is also really negative for your health, it's it's something that psychotherapists have been working on for decades in therapy, because it's one of the most common things that people try to work on when they go to see a therapist, the kind of neurotic footbath there. It is right, that there are actually so beds for our health. It again, this time in the Netherlands.
The Health Ministry has calculated the customs cost them billions of euros per year. You know, when people are neurotic because of the health care costs and the pressure on the hospitals for all the negative cardiovascular events that you can guess, for example, from being very neurotic.
Wow. So there should be a minister of neuroticism to know. I'm curious, do you know what the UK minister, the minister of loneliness is trying to do from a broad perspective?
She is basically trying to implement different programs to integrate people, is mostly focused on seniors, because especially bad for older people, it's bad for everybody. But there are also be more touched by loneliness usually. So trying to open some kind of senior houses and information campaigns and trying to let people even know that it matters because people don't even realize that it can be an issue for their health. Right. And so and just to get out and get out more and be of course not these days.
The minister started she started her work well before the covid stroke. So but he had just kind of information campaigns and programs to integrate people who are at risk and specific risk for a long illness. So for years, maybe all, most of my life, people have been asking me what kind of foods you eat, what kind of exercises do you do, what kind of water should I drink, all of these things and so much more we put into a 21 day program.
So that can take you through a theme every day of knowledge, action, and then eating this delicious meals, working out, getting support, anchoring in these new habits. So you can do what? So that you can kick ass. So you have the energy, the vitality to live the kind of life that you really want. That's what it's all about. So all in this app, we have grocery lists, we have education about real hydration and what greater oxygenation and the balance of organization.
All of these things we are diving into as you're heading down this hero's journey of implementation into a new life to give you the kind of life that you actually want. So join my tribe. All you have to do is go to one to one tribe, dotcom, sign up and you get three free days. Join me on this hero's journey. Join the tribe. We'll think about that, too, so if if you're being influenced nearly 70 percent by these other aspects of optimism, connection, community, friendship, outlook, all of these things, and and you're already vulnerable because you're old, you're older and you have some other underlying conditions.
Can imagine if you started implementing these things in those populations, the boost that it would have on their attitudes, their mentality, their immune system, all of that stuff. And so, again, this is something that can't be distilled down into a pharmaceutical pill. And so but it's something that can be so powerful, 70 percent of an input influence into that individual and working on those optimizations, that's a very, very powerful thing. And you're like and the amount of dollars that these countries, the U.K., the Netherlands, are seeing being put that are being affected by these people in these states, man, you can save a lot of money as a society, as a culture, cultivating the very things that are in your in your book, which is why I think this book is so important for people, for communities, for teachers in classrooms, with kids, with all the way up to the governments, to countries, to the globe, that really we need to cultivate this stuff.
Now, unfortunately, we have profit centered agendas as well. And people do want to sell a pill and we need to push these agendas. And which is why I love having these conversations and getting this stuff out that people can do right now, today and start to being aware. And a little self analyzation is necessary. Right. Being aware of the words you're using, just like you said, this is the way it's going to be. Always.
Never. I'm always like this. This is who I am. All of those things are just. Bad statements and words and sentences to live into, because that's creating that next moment and solidifying that state, which is ultimately immovable. If we continue to stay in those states and this is why I love these conversations and you've scoured all of the science to reveal that the chemistry set inside is changing and movable and powerful way beyond. Let's call it what it is, way beyond the best workout program, the best super foods to eat, like the best water to drink.
Even though I've spent my career with all of that stuff, it's equally as important.
But but I believe listen, I have a master's in psychology, so I've always saw that the state of someone is incredibly important as their life is expressed and even the results that they're actually wanting in the gym. I have always seen this where people have a better outlook.
Their body doesn't hold on to the stress and the cortisol, and they're beating themselves to death in the gym and then having this other outlook in their life. And they're just colliding inside. And that's a that's a that's a bad combination. Oh, totally.
And these things are these are such important things even for today, when we are now starting the vaccination campaign for a combatant. And you won't believe it. But actually, how socially connected we are, whether we are feeling lonely, for instance, has even impact on our response to vaccination. There is plenty of research on, of course, not uncovered vaccine, but on the flu vaccine, on on hepatitis vaccine and all that. Lots of vaccines as well, showing that when people are socially isolated, lonely, when they're in very pessimistic and negative mind frames, they actually produce less antibodies after vaccination than people who are more positively outlooking and connected.
Which is why I'm writing an article about this right now. And I've talked to some scientists and experts on immunologists, and they of course, they don't know how it's going to be the vaccine, but there is a good chance that it will work in a similar way so that people who are particularly isolated and some are in exactly kind of very negative and they may potentially not respond as well as people who are more connected. So so it's so powerful, you know, how these things matter for for our health on so many in so many different ways.
Yeah. Not to mention, even if you're going to choose not to get a vaccination, you want to make sure your attitude and your health and all of that stuff is aligned because your body's natural ability is extremely powerful as well. And we even see statistically ninety nine point nine, eight percent of the people aren't really affected by by the covid as well. But it's it's you know, we need to take care of the sovereignty inside of ourselves. But but what you're saying and all of these other things that we so easily can blow off especially is I'm a workaholic.
I can definitely work at work, work, work, work, work, work, like does the next day. No, I haven't left my my property in two days. You know, that that is that as a consequence to. Right. So, so we all need to kind of balance our lives out to bring in this more, you know, this, this other super food that we're talking about. And it's not a food at all.
It's the outlook. It's the optimism. It's the connection. It's the friendships which is giving us the super nutrients that our body is needing and craving by by this connected this. And it's not going to come another way.
You know, we so often talk about, for example, the Mediterranean diet. Right. Even you've mentioned done done with Buttner, who endorsed my book as well. And and he writes about people in Corsica, for example, one of the blue zones where people live perfectly long. So and exactly. We usually focus on the diet, the Mediterranean diet, how much wine they drink, how many olive olives they eat per day, how much to date and so on and so on.
And but on the other hand, you know, as I mentioned before, I live in France and here the diet is just part of the whole eating is about being with other people. So Mediterranean diet is not just what they eat, but how they eat and they eat with others. They are always surrounded. With their friends, with their neighbors, returning to the Mediterranean diet is not in its original ways, not eating in your car alone for the nutrients it's eaten.
Surrounded by people about whom you OK?
And this is extremely important parts of it. Right. Which is the the secular societies. And he here in America, you can be like, well, what's happened? Even as a kid, we always ate together. But now you're like seeing the kids running around to all these different programs. They're grabbing food, maybe they're eating, maybe they're not even eating. No one one's really sitting down. I mean, aside from covid, I think that was part of the one of the good, at least for families to kind of be together.
But really, our culture is just grab the food, go make a smoothie, take off, do all your work. And then at the very end, everyone's isolated, eating like crazy. So that's a very, very important thing. And I'm glad we're kind of illuminating that side of it, because, again, I think part of the the place that we fall into as societies are in our heavy minds trying to reduce it down like, OK, but what can I do?
But what can I take or what can I consume to make all of my life be perfect? And it and it's not like that. It's an integration. It's an integration of all these principles that I think for me, what really clicked, especially with this conversation, was the value of the all of these values, of this connection, this friendship, this community, and then the the the as a result of that, the chemistry that's being altered beneficially in the body is is the super nutrients that your body is then creating inside, which is equating to that nearly 70 percent of beneficial.
Outlooks and compounds from doing all these things like friendship, optimism, community connection, all of that stuff, and I just want to emphasize that because it's not just throwing these statements out there. Right. So it's easy for people to read that statement and go, OK, friendship, community, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But there's some real biology chemistry that's going on that you can't distill into a pill. You have to also connect, be real, show up, also be an equal side of that friendship.
Be there for someone, step outside of your comfort of isolation and be a part of a community. I think is is it is also this beautiful part of service. Like you want to be there for your friends, you want to support your loved ones. And I think, you know, it comes down to and it just so happens there's all of these beneficial things that go on and find those as well.
And this is one that I think I write in my book about there are so many different things we still haven't mentioned that are really important as well. You know, kindness and volunteering, monetary donations and and also the way the way you do volunteering. How much of volunteering, what kind of volunteering. Great. But is all impacts our health, if even random acts of kindness. There was this fascinating study done where some people were doing acts of kindness, and that is where in the end, the scientists could see the differences again on the level of gene expression in their white blood cells.
So for being beneficial for the people who are doing the acts of kindness. And I actually for when I was writing Growing Young, I actually did a similar experiment on myself with collaboration with scientists from King's College, London, where we analysed my cortisol response to random acts of kindness. And I could also see on my own body how when I was on days when I was doing random kindness, my cortisol response was much healthier than on all the other days.
So it was really fascinating to really see it, how how it works in practice.
And that's immediate. That's amazing. That's like immediate medication that you're taking for your healthy body. And just out of curiosity, what were your random acts of kindness like? What did you do?
I mean, so even just thinking about them and it was very pleasurable and actually potentially beneficial for my stress hormones as well. But I did things like I fed some stray cats, I picked some litter because I baked cookies that my husband took to work to show with his colleagues. I bought a sandwich for some homeless family, just small things. Sometimes I, I would like let people ahead of trafficking, for example. Sometimes even very small things matter.
In the study I've mentioned before, when people had different gene expression, their white blood cells, they were also instructed to do really small things exactly by pay for a coffee for someone like really small acts of kindness. But they actually do make a difference.
And I love that because then it's not this big thing that you need to I need to organize a group. I need to raise a bunch of money.
I need to. So good for you. Right. Yeah.
So so it's not this this I mean, even going out of your way to smile at someone, going out of your way to compliment someone, all of these things and think about I just go back to the state that we're in now. I mean, we want healthy bodies so that we can forge through viruses and bacteria and all of that stuff. And if you're actually not being crushed by fear and you're actually demonstrating kindness throughout this, your immune system, just like you, you witnessed it yourself in your own body, your immune system will actually be stronger as a result of that.
So these are these are again or are I mean, they're wonderful states. I'm thinking of times that the holidays where I just like I did like three people behind me in the checkout. And I told the lady, don't tell them I did it, but I'm going to pay for their entire groceries and then I'm just going to leave. I'm not even going to look to see how they responded. I'm just going to leave and just let it be.
And I'm telling you. So I didn't I didn't make a story up about it by how they responded all of this. I felt amazing the entire day just by not even knowing what happened, but the act of doing it. And that is the power of kindness. And you have it. Yeah. You've demonstrated on a molecular level of what it's doing right now. And that's the thing. Like we want a. Back to right now, all these things can affect us right now.
I love that. So what are some other so kind? I mean, that's a that's a great one. People can especially now can take that and move on that and be kind. And I got this this actual had on kindness passed. Well, I have another one says kindness passed it on this one's kindness. Twenty, twenty one. So this one's appropriate for this conversation for sure. I'm feeling good. And so what are other things that you uncovered that surprised you in the book?
I mean, the last thing we can say, we can still discuss because it's so important, actually. Perhaps the most important thing is actually the romantic relationships, so committed romantic relationship it can be marriage doesn't have to be marriage, but as long as it is committed, so you have this feeling that you are in it for good till death do us part. And this is actually perhaps and actually research confirms this is the most important thing you can do for your health and your longevity, and it can lower your mortality risk by itself by about forty five percent.
So it's huge. And weirdly enough for women, the marriage has to be happy. Not surprising here, but for men, I actually even a marriage or romantic relationship, but that is not very good in quality, can still be beneficial for their health, which was puzzling scientists for quite a long time. But now they are coming to a conclusion that most likely it's because women tend to be organizers of social life in general. Also, men profited from a marriage or relationship because of this kind of social aspect of marriage that the women tend to get in touch with neighbors, with families and so on.
And so so this kind of side effects of it can be beneficial, even if the relationship itself is not the best. But in general, if you have a happy marriage or happy romantic relationship, this is the best thing that can happen to your health and longevity.
So that's the best. I love this conversation. This has been so wonderful. I'm going to go and devour your book at this point. I'd love to keep this conversation going. I'd love to support this message that you've spent so much time on, because I think I've known intuitively I've seen glimpses, like I said. But you've illuminated and grounded so much of this stuff. That's a very, very important message that you've put into this book and you've now embodied.
So I just want to say thank you for the work that your you've done and are doing. And I want to continue to support what that is moving forward, however that looks. So how can people follow you and find you and all of that stuff?
I mean, so the book, Some Growing Young again, how friendship, optimism and kindness, calculus to a hundred. It can be found on all the usual booksellers from Amazon Indigo. Well, well, everywhere you usually find books and you can also read more about it and about me on my website, which is w w w growing young. The book dot com. Great, awesome.
Well, thank you so much. Have a great, happy, happy kind New Year.
Thank you so much and happy New Year to you.
What a fantastic episode. So tell me, what is one thing you got out of today's conversation? If this episode struck a chord with you and you want to dive a little deeper into my other conversations with incredible guests, you can head over to my website, Derrinallum Dotcom, for more episodes and in-depth articles. Keep diving, my friends. Keep diving. This episode is produced by my team at Must Amplify, an audio marketing company that specializes in giving a voice to a brand and making sure the right people hear it.
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