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Growing Young: How Friendship, Optimism and Kindness Can Help You Live to 100

Marta Zaraska

8 Reviews

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Maturation & ageing

'If you care about the length and quality of your life but can't stomach yet another diet or workout routine, this book is for you' - Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author

'Finally, a lifestyle book that transcends diet and exercise for solutions for living longer' - Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author

A smart, research-driven case for why optimism, kindness and strong social networks will help us live to 100.

What to do to live long? From fountain-searching Ponce de Leon to pill-popping Silicon Valley techies humanity has been trying to pinpoint the answer for centuries, often fixating on all the wrong things: miracle diets, miracle foods, miracle supplements. We skip gluten and invest in exercise gadgets. We swallow vitamins. We obsess about BMI. While healthy nutrition and physical activity are indeed important for health, there are things we all too often sacrifice in favour of fad diets that have an outsize impact on our centenarian potential. Friendships. Purpose in life. Empathy. Kindness. Science shows that these 'soft' health drivers are often more powerful than diet and exercise.

Consider the numbers: studies show that building a strong support network of family and friends lowers mortality risk by about 45 per cent. Exercise, on the other hand, can lower that risk by 23 to 33 per cent. Eating six servings of fruit and veg per day can cut the danger of dying early by 26 per cent, while following the Mediterranean diet by 21 per cent. For volunteering, it's 22 to 44 per cent. Many more examples like this led Marta Zaraska to her ultimate conclusion: you should be contemplating your purpose in life, not the best fitness tracker to buy.

Humans are social animals. Over the course of our evolution we've developed intertwined systems that regulate our social lives on one hand and our physiology on the other, contributing to our centenarian potential. The amygdala and the insula in the brain, the social hormones oxytocin and serotonin, the vagus nerve, the HPA stress axis - these all link our bodies and our minds, contributing to our centenarian potential. We feel safe when we are surrounded by friendly others. The nervous system, the gastrointestinal system, the immune system all function properly when the tribe is there for us and when we are there for the tribe. We flourish as part of a group.

Marta Zaraska based GROWING YOUNG on hundreds of research papers and on interviews with dozens of scientists from fields as diverse as molecular biochemistry, epidemiology, neuroscience, Asian studies, cyber psychology, marketing and zoology. The book's research took her to rather unexpected places, too: catching wild m

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Praise for Growing Young: How Friendship, Optimism and Kindness Can Help You Live to 100

  • Friendship is the most important journey we ever venture on. Read Marta Zaraska's Growing Young and find out why

  • Finally, a lifestyle book that transcends diet and exercise as solutions for living longer. This well-researched book shows us the subtle power of community and connection as tools for a quest to live to 100

  • Growing Young tells how to have a long and happy life: Never stop learning and growing. Marta Zaraska's recipe may come from the frontier of research, but it is based on such an elegant distillation of the science that Growing Young is as fascinating as it is persuasive

  • The more we learn about the human body, the more we realize how powerful the connection between happiness and health is. Research-based, practical and insightful, Growing Young makes this relationship come to life. A must-read

  • Growing Young is a smart, fresh take on longevity. Deeply researched, fascinating and engaging, it offers readers useful advice on how to maximize their lifespan, in easy, practical and unexpected ways

  • An unusually intriguing and useful read about how our psychology affects our longevity. If you care about the length and quality of your life but can't stomach yet another diet or workout routine, this book is for you

  • One of the best books I have read on the topic of the mind and its interconnectedness with our body and other human beings. Based on the author's extensive review of the scientific literature, it shows the importance of this interconnectedness for our health and longevity

  • Marta Zaraska's Growing Young shows that what matters most is what helps us live the longest! This accessible, well-researched and thoughtful book is essential reading

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Marta Zaraska

Marta Zaraska is a Canadian-Polish science journalist. She has written about nutrition and psychology for the Washington Post, Scientific American, The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, New Scientist among others. She is the author of Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat (Basic Books, 2016), which has been translated into Japanese and Polish, and chosen by the journal Nature as one of its 'best science picks'. Meathooked has also been praised in The Wall Street Journal, Discover Magazine, Time, The Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews, Natural History Magazine, etc.

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