A Longevity MD's Top 3 Nonnegotiables For Optimal Health Span
Want to live an active, engaged life into your 90s and beyond? Florence Comite, M.D., wants to help. The precision medicine doctor specializes in individual protocols for reversing disorders of aging and boosting life span. With a triple appointment in endocrinology and reproductive endocrinology, she's also an expert on how hormones impact the longevity equation.
We were curious: What does a healthy aging expert wish she had started doing earlier to set herself up for success down the line? Here are the three things Comite thinks everybody in their 20s and beyond should prioritize—because you're never too young (or too old) to set yourself up for a vibrant health span:
Get enough deep sleep
Sleep wasn't the easiest thing for Comite to prioritize when she was in residency working 100-plus-hour weeks. These days, she makes up for lost time by treating sleep as a nonnegligible.
Build a strong reserve of muscle
"Muscle to me is like the fountain of youth. It's the key to longevity," says Comite.
Unfortunately, we gradually lose all-important muscle starting around age 30, coinciding with the decrease of certain hormones like testosterone. "That's why diabetes starts emerging in the 30s, 40s, and 50s—because we're all losing muscle as our hormones are shifting," Comite explains.
This means that building a strong reserve of lean muscle in your 20s—and maintaining it as you age—is paramount. Being well-muscled can help improve blood sugar control,4 reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke5, and protect bone health6. (Muscle is known as the organ of longevity for a reason!)
Comite notes that to build a strong reserve, you'll need to do resistance training at least two to three times a week and eat enough protein to fuel muscle protein synthesis. You can quickly gauge your muscle health by doing a chair-rise test: Ideally, you'll be able to lift yourself out of a chair without using your hands.
Closely monitor blood sugar
Blood sugar is an essential health metric, and these days it's easier to track than ever. If Comite could travel back in time, she'd start monitoring hers with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
She notes that CGMs can be especially helpful for young women on hormonal birth control, since suppressed testosterone may contribute to insulin resistance. 7
As a data nerd, Comite appreciates that CGMs give her real-time insights into not just her blood sugar levels but also her sleep quality and stress levels. Wearing one daily helps her identify the foods that are best for her metabolic health—typically a combination of fiber, healthy fats, and protein to slow the absorption of sugar8 and keep her feeling full for longer.
As a precision medicine doctor with over four decades of experience, Florence Comite, M.D., knows what it takes to set the stage for longevity—and prioritizing sleep, doing resistance training, and monitoring blood sugar levels are her first lines of defense against diseases of aging. While living to be a super-ager requires some solid genetics and a dash of good luck, these are powerful things you can do to stack the cards in your favor.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.