25 Ways to Live Forever

We explore the myriad ways Vancouverites chase the dream of eternal youth.

They say Torontonians want to be rich and Montrealers want to be cool. But the ultimate goal of a Vancouverite? To be forever young. Luckily, our fair city offers myriads ways to chase health and longevity—some backed by research, others by wishful thinking, but all in pursuit of eternal youth.

▸▸▸ Diet 

1. Chew on Some Kelp

Move over, kale: there’s a new green in town. A study from Newcastle University suggests that alginates in sea kelp help suppress fat absorption by 75 percent. (One side effect: it increases kelp absorption by 100 percent.)

2. Embrace the Fermentation Life

Good new, health-minded foodies: there have never been more delicious ways to cultivate optimal microbial chemistry, make digestion easier and help balance your stomach acids. READ MORE ▸▸▸

3. Cultivate Your Microbiome

When it comes to keeping fit, you’ve truly got to go with your gut. “I look at the list of the top 10 causes of death for Canadians, and nine of them now have microbial links, including strokes and heart attacks,” says B. Brett Finlay, a UBC professor specializing in microbiology and infectious diseases. READ MORE ▸▸▸

4. Give Up Chewing

The cheekily named Soylent meal-replacement drink mix claims to boost energy, improve health and help with weight loss. But while this super-powered dinner-in-a-cup could be useful on busy workdays, there’s one problem: it looks, tastes and feels like pancake batter. There are, however, some ways to “hack” the product with add-ins that (marginally) improve the flavour and texture. READ MORE ▸▸▸

5. Find the Perfect Cleanse

Overindulged? Full of toxins? (Whatever that even means.) There’s a cleanse for you. READ MORE ▸▸▸

6. Remember That Everything Bad is Good for You

There’s room in the health-conscious life for a little indulgence, too. Everything in moderation, as Oscar Wilde once said…including moderation. READ MORE ▸▸▸

▸▸▸ Lifestyle

7. Turn Back the Biological Clock

The first step in reclaiming your youth is to figure out what your biological age is in the first place—the number that reveals exactly the damage that’s been done (or avoided) during your turns around the globe. READ MORE ▸▸▸

8. Get a Dog

A little puppy love boosts happiness and mental health; exposure to their filthy coats boosts immunity for the whole family and lessens allergy risks for kids, according to data uncovered by the SFU-developed Allergy and Asthma Portal. Good dog.

9. Go Shopping

They say money can’t buy happiness, but Elizabeth Dunn, UBC psychology professor and co-author of Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending has other ideas. READ MORE ▸▸▸

10. Time-Travel to a Stress-Free Childhood

Were you lucky enough to have a childhood filled with cookies and fireside family game nights? Go ahead and tick off a box on the longevity checklist. A recent study shows adverse childhood events affect how we age. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined the relationship between telomeres—the caps at the ends of each strand of DNA—and stressful childhood events. Shorter telomeres are associated with disease and old age, while longer ones indicate health and strength; the childhood troubles that predicted shorter telomeres included physical abuse, run-ins with police and having parents with substance abuse problems. But since there’s nothing we can do to reverse the effects of adverse childhood events, why not go do something nice for a kid in need of a boost? You can live forever vicariously. —Amy O’Brian

11. Take Your Brain for a Walk

There are plenty of benefits to walking—cardiac health, relaxation, elevated mood—but a UBC researcher has shown that walking can also help ward off cognitive decline in people at risk of dementia. In one study, associate professor of physical therapy Teresa Liu-Ambrose had 71 participants aged 56 to 96—all with cognitive impairment from damage to tiny blood vessels in their brains—walk three times per week, gradually increasing their intensity. Others did not follow the exercise program but kept with their usual routines. Among the walkers, they found significant improvement in memory and cognitive function; in other words, they could help stave off the cognitive declines associated with dementia. But they had to keep up the pace: six months after the study, those who had stopped walking saw the benefits diminish. “The head and the body are connected,” says Liu-Ambrose. “And exercise truly is the magic pill.” —Jennifer Van Evra

12. Have Two Kids

A longitudinal study done by researchers from SFU and UBC found that the number of children a woman has could slow the rate at which her body ages; researchers also suggest that women are likely to get more social support from family and friends when they have more children, increasing their metabolic energy and using it to maintain the body. But though that may seem like you should keep poppin’ out those babies, the damage of the financial stress of more than two kids quickly outweighs the benefits. —D.R.C.

13. Renovate Your Condo

The most value-adding features in housing aren’t the ones that make people feel rich—they’re the ones that make people feel safe. READ MORE ▸▸▸

14. Give Back

We tend to think of volunteering—whether it be handing out meals at a soup kitchen or reading Jane Austen to the elderly—as a selfless act: something you do to help your community and improve the lives of others. But research shows it has the added benefit of possibly extending your life. A review of data from 40 different studies, published in BMC Public Health, points to about a 20 percent reduction in mortality among people who regularly give their time to others compared to those who don’t. Volunteers are also less depressed and have a greater sense of life satisfaction—good news, now that you’re going to live so much longer. —Amy O’Brian

▸▸▸ Fitness 

15. Perform a Balancing Act

“Acroboy Troy” picked up yoga to treat a bad back and neck about five years ago; today, he’s teaching acro yoga (a two-or-more-person form centred on balance and focus) to the yoga-curious. READ MORE ▸▸▸

16. Don’t Stop Running

North Vancouver’s B.J. McHugh is an 89-year-old marathoner who’s running laps around us all. READ MORE ▸▸▸

17. Sit Up Straight

As exercise equipment goes, it looks as low-tech as it can get; as part of the anti-sedentary movement, however, Yaletown’s Fitness Table punches far above its weight. Lie on your back on a full-length Shaker-style table with your hands over your head and tucked under the top of the table (well, hello, pecs), breathing from your diaphragm while zipping your bent knees together and slowly bringing them to each side. Sitting up, with your legs wrapped around the table legs, you’ll see your body’s wonky alignment, thanks to the shape of the table and the mirror in front. “There’s nowhere to hide,” laughs owner Katharine Ford, “and gravity means you need to really work.” The “re-education of movement” to help your core and posture—started by dancer Thérèse Cadrin Petit in Montreal in 1980—takes you through more than 800 exercises that also involve tilting the table and using soft exercise balls. Sloppy posture? It’s time to turn the tables. $100 for initial postural evaluation, $32 per drop-in plus various group packages. —Lucy Hyslop

▸▸▸ Medical

18. Spark One Up

Medical marijuana is easier to find than a decent burrito to munch afterward, and it can allegedly treat everything from muscle spasms to insomnia to diabetes. READ MORE ▸▸▸

19. Feel the Sting

Proponents of bee-venom therapy (BVT) claim that a honeybee’s venom—administered by either extract or straight from the stinger—can treat 40-plus ailments, from MS to skin tumours. The small dose of venom allegedly kickstarts the immune system to address your other aches and pains…and yeah, it’s going to hurt. (Talk to your physician before rattling any hives!) honeybeecentre.com

20. Freshen Up Your Blood

The Snopes-disproved legend of Keith Richards swapping out his blood after a night of hard partying for that of a younger man may not sound so far-fetched in the future, if recent studies are to be believed. READ MORE ▸▸▸

21. Skip the Clinic Waiting Room

As much as we love sitting in a stuffy lobby for three hours with the hacking-up-a-lung crowd, the free EQ Virtual app is a terribly civilized alternative to the usual clinic experience. Log in to video chat with a B.C. doctor right from your sickbed (go on—show off that weird hot tub rash!), and have your prescription sent directly to your local pharmacy.

22. Tap a Vein

If your Flintstones chewables just aren’t doing the trick, perhaps some IV therapy is in order. Aumakua Integrated Wellness Clinic offers intravenous vitamin therapy to boost immunity, treat hangovers and battle jet lag in their downtown naturopathic office, but if you’d prefer to experience your drip bag in style, IV Wellness Boutique does the same in an oh-so-Yaletown environment—think soft lighting, recliners and high-def screens.

▸▸▸ Tech

23. Print a New Set of Organs

Forget guns and shoes: 3D printing will soon be tasked with crafting organs, thanks to Vancouver’s Aspect Biosystems. Under its catchy slogan “Human Tissues on Demand,” the UBC biotechnology start-up company has already replicated living human tissue through custom-built 3D printers. It uses a microfluidic chip to generate a thin gel fibre—loaded with living cells—which is then stacked into a 3D structure layer by layer and incubated for several weeks to develop into tissue, explains Tamer Mohamed, Aspect’s co-founder. Mohamed adds of the technology currently used for drug testing, “The goal is to create replacement tissue for surgical implantation.” And possibly a world without donors, to boot. —Lucy Hyslop

24. Upgrade Your Fitbit

Forget your 10,000 steps. Vancouver-based Mio Global offers an alternative way to gamify your health: their wearables award PAI (personal activity intelligence) points for getting your cardio on, whether from a spin class or gardening. “You can earn a lot of PAI from playing with your grandchildren,” says Liz Dickinson, Mio founder. The good news: the largest health study ever conducted found that those who maintain an optimum PAI score live a decade longer—which means more time with said grandkids. 

25. Freeze Your Brain

We may not have the cure for mortality now…but transhumanists believe one day we will. And their cryogenically frozen brains will be ready. READ MORE ▸▸▸

Have you tried anything on this list? Let us know in the comments below!