Fast, Eat, Relax, Sleep, Move, Learn

Zora Benhamou lives and breathes healthy aging. All of her healthy aging hacks fall into five health “pillars” very similar to the health tracking pillars built into LifeOmic’s new LIFE Extend app. They include sleep, relaxation, movement, brain health, healthy eating and fasting.

Zora grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UCLA before setting off across the world to learn more about aging and longevity. For the past three years she has been living in Hong Kong, where she works as a certified health coach. She has lived in seven different countries and has traveled to a total of 50 different countries in her search for the symbolic fountain of youth.

“I have been studying aging for the last 27 years, writing, researching, interviewing, practicing and investigating scientific studies on aging and longevity,” Zora said. “I’ve held talks on body composition, nutrition, health and aging in Spain, Hong Kong, the United States, the United Kingdom and France. My biggest passion is learning more about aging and longevity while I travel. I enjoy sifting through studies and blogs to learn more about centenarians in the Blue Zones, but I find it even more satisfying to reach out to these people in person. I learn a lot more in my interviews and one-on-one conversations with those who are aging across the globe.”

Learn more: Eating to Break 100, Learning from the Blue Zones

As a certified health coach, Zora mostly helps people who want to lose weight, although she is increasingly passionate about a well-rounded approach to healthy aging. She is the founder of the anti-aging website, author of Eating for Longevity and creator of the Longevity Master Plan — a comprehensive online guide to looking and feeling younger than your biological age.

“Being healthy is about so much more than losing weight,” Zora said. “It’s just not cool or sexy to say, ‘Let’s get your sleep on!’ Sleep interventions don’t attract people to a health coach. But I’ve brought many of my clients around to considering a range of behaviors for healthy living and aging, from sleep, to meditation, to relaxation and stress management, to brain training.”



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I can’t stop myself from 🔬observing aging populations around the world🌎. Each person tells a unique story and I find common threads. . Today I am in the🇪🇸 Spanish white village of Ojén under the blazing mid day ☀️ sun when most people are indoors, taking a siesta or cooking lunch.🥣 . I found many of the elderly in #Ojén relaxing, playing chess, drinking a coffee☕️ or resting in the shade☂️. These are some of the key elements to increasing healthspan no matter where in the world you live. . Some of the longest living people take breaks to relax, enjoy quality time with friends, building strong bonds and have fun. 🤸‍♀️ . I personally ❤️love this attitude, but I always strive to find a healthy ⚖️balance between work and play to satisfy my needs, give me purpose and have the best chance of a long healthspan. . What are the ways you relax and find purpose in life? Have you found the golden balance yet?

A post shared by Zora The Explorer 🌎✈️🎒 (@hackmyage) on

Zora has packaged her health coach training into an online program she calls the Longevity Master Plan. Included in the program are all the steps that Zora herself takes toward healthy aging. She encourages her clients to pick and choose the steps that work best for them and that they can fit into their lifestyle long-term.

“I’m finding more people in their early twenties and thirties who are really interested in healthy aging,” Zora said. “It really surprised me at first, but I think that young people are seeing more information out there about aging healthily, and they are seeing older people living amazing lives, still looking young and having lots of energy. I think they are curious, and now a little bit of research on Google can go a long way. If you are young and interested in healthy aging today, I think you have a really good chance at a long healthspan. And the more you practice health behaviors that can help delay aging early in life, the easier it becomes to turn these into habits.”

All of Zora’s Longevity Master Plan steps fall into five health “pillars” very similar to the health tracking pillars built into LifeOmic’s new LIFE Extend app. They include sleep, relaxation, movement, brain health, healthy eating and fasting. These health pillars aren’t totally separate, but rather work together in promoting health.

“I’ve been fascinated with the results I get with my clients who want to lose weight and get healthier when we focus on other areas outside of nutrition and exercise,” Zora said. “I travel to all corners of the world researching and learning from aging populations, from Bhutan to California, and bring what I learn back to my clients.”


Zora Benhamou.

Zora’s Story as an Anti-Aging Self-Experimenter

Any health behavior that Zora advises her clients try, such as intermittent fasting or meditation, she tries out for herself first.

“I should have gone into medicine or biology as a career,” Zora laughs. “Over the years I’ve read more books and scientific articles than I can count. I also love to just walk up to older people who look amazing and ask them what they do to stay looking so young. I ask them what they eat, what they do for exercise, and then I try to imitate them. Even as a kid I would literally walk up to anyone who looked amazing for their age and ask them what their secrets were. In my mind I took notes and did my best to practice their advice.”

Zora’s mother died young of breast cancer. Zora just assumed that she’d also develop breast cancer because she shared her mother’s genes. She started reading everything she could put her hands on to learn more about what contributes to a person getting cancer, and what a genetic predisposition means.

“I slowly started to realize that I could actually change my destiny,” Zora said. “There’s no guarantee, but I can stack the cards in my favor by living a healthy life. I want to be around to see my kids grow older, so I do everything I can to stay healthy.”

For example, not everyone who inherits a mutation in a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene will develop cancer — genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors also contribute to a person’s cancer risk. With the rise of genetic testing, people can also learn more about their risk of developing a hereditary cancer early in life and take preventative action.

“With this information, some people can really start living,” Zora said. “When I was young I was mostly focused on body image as a sign of health, but when my mother passed away from breast cancer when I was only 23 years old I became a lot more curious as to why a seemingly healthy person should die so early. I was obsessed with the belief that my programing would lead me to an early death. I learned later that genetics may be the loaded gun but lifestyle is the trigger.”

What are your favorite sleep hacks? Credit: f9photos.

What are your favorite sleep hacks? Credit: f9photos.

Counting Sheep: Sleep Hygiene and Longevity

Zora’s day looks something like this: She wakes up at 6 a.m. and practices 15 minutes of meditation before going for a hike, a run or to yoga class. By 7 a.m. she is in the sauna, where she sometimes also practices meditation. She eats a hearty plant-based breakfast — a green smoothie with kale and bananas, a salad with spinach and tomatoes, or a yogurt with pumpkin seeds and fruit. She eats a veggie-rich lunch around 1 p.m., a snack around 4 p.m., and dinner around 7 p.m. For desert, she might have a sleep-enhancing smoothie with milk, almonds and bananas.

Zora’s bedtime ritual is as beautifully thought out as the rest of her day. First, she dons blue light-blocking glasses starting at 6 p.m. to help kickstart her melatonin production. At 9 p.m. she starts her bedtime routine: she dims the lights in her house, plays spa music, diffuses lavender essential oils, cleans her face and checks last minute emails and messages. She jots down important details from the day, frustrations and plans for the next day to release them from her mind. She moves all of her electronics to another room and turns them on airplane mode. She enjoys a short and slow yoga practice or stretching session before she gets in bed. She turns on her sleep app, slips into a comfy bed and spends a few minutes breathing deeply in a savasana position or “corpse” pose as it’s often called in yoga, her palms facing up.

From the moment she wakes to the moment she gets back in bed, Zora tries to optimize her day for high quality sleep.

“People undervalue sleep as a health intervention,” Zora said. “It doesn’t matter if you are eating broccoli and working out on the treadmill every day — if your sleep quality is poor, you aren’t optimizing the effort you are putting toward your healthspan. I’ve worked with people who eventually hit a plateau — they can’t burn any more fat or build any more muscle, even though they are doing everything right. But when we work on their sleep patterns and quality, their fat starts to fall off again.”

Zora takes her sleep hygiene very seriously. She is a self-professed “party pooper” — as soon as the clock strikes near her bedtime, she is getting ready for sleep by turning her room into a personal spa, closing the curtains, dimming the lights, diffusing lavender oil and playing calming chanting music. She goes to bed and wakes up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Her tips for high quality sleep also include getting sunlight exposure before noon and exercising in the morning.

“I’m not the kind of person who is going to party until 2 a.m., sleep until 10 a.m. and throw off my circadian rhythm,” Zora said. “But at the same time, I am flexible with myself in other ways. If I go to a late social dinner, I’ll probably break my fast to enjoy food with friends.”

Zora fasts for metabolic health. Credit: Zora B.

Zora fasts for metabolic health. Credit: Zora B.

Counting Sheep: Sleep Hygiene and Longevity

Zora eats mostly plant-based foods and fish. At one point in her life when she was eating to gain muscle, consuming lots of animal proteins, she ended up with borderline high cholesterol levels that her doctor wanted her to get under control with medication if necessary. Instead, she switched to a primarily plant-based diet and her cholesterol levels returned to normal. But even though she feels best when eating mostly plants and minimizing animal proteins, she believes that healthy eating comes down to what works best for the individual.

“I never tell people exactly what to eat — you have to find what makes you feel good,” Zora said. “I’ve seen healthy people across the world eating high carb diets, high fat diets, high protein diets, low carb diets — and they are all thriving! It comes down to what works for the individual.”

Zora also practices a form of intermittent fasting called time-restricted eating, which she finds also helps regulate her sleep and circadian rhythm.

“There’s a lot of confusion out there about intermittent fasting,” Zora said. “There are so many different ways to practice fasting, but most people practice it through trial and error without having any biomarkers to evaluate its impact. But training people through a mobile app and giving them more information on how to improve their metabolic health through fasting is a brilliant idea.”

Zora has been using the LIFE Fasting Tracker app to log her fasting, which she usually practices 14 hours per day. She doesn’t eat anything during her fasts, but she will drink the occasional herbal tea or lemon water. She usually breaks her fasts with lots of raw vegetables and fruits. Because she realizes that the refeeding phase is perhaps the most important part of a fast, she fills her body with healthy foods.

“The first time I heard about fasting was when I was a teenager,” Zora said. “Fasting is common in many different cultures, but as a kid I knew it only as religious fasting, not fasting for healthspan. All of my Jewish friends had to fast for Yom Kippur. But even as a kid I practiced intermittent fasting without realizing it, just by only eating when I was hungry. I’d often skip breakfast in high school. To this day I follow my own body clock — when I’m hungry I eat, when I’m not hungry, I don’t. I listen to my body. I’ve also avoided a nine to five day job most of my life, so it’s easier for me to eat on my own schedule. It came as no surprise when I learned that there was scientific research behind intermittent fasting as a metabolic health intervention.”

Zora has been fasting roughly 14 hours out of each day most of her life. She became aware of the potential health benefits of intermittent fasting or time restricted feeding through Mark Sisson’s health blog, but only recently started practicing fasting seriously in light of human studies demonstrating its metabolic benefits.

“Information about intermittent fasting is exploding online,” Zora said. “I started to take it seriously after hearing Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s podcast episodes with Dr. Valter Longo and Dr. Satchin Panda. Now I fast on average 14 hours each day, and once a week I practice a longer 18 to 20-hour fast. I love eating and I love food, but I can also get a lot more work done when I don’t have to cook three meals each day!”

Zora also fasts when she travels and finds that it helps her stay on a good sleep schedule. “I hate airplane food,” Zora laughs. “I’m usually tired, so I just fall asleep on plane rides. It’s not a struggle for me to fast all day on a travel day.”

“Unless you have specific dietary requirements or a condition that makes fasting unsafe, fasting is a great way to naturally restrict calories and promote weight loss,” Zora said. “If you are undertaking a health behavior for general health and longevity, it has to be sustainable for the rest of your life. I find that time restricted eating is sustainable for me — I feel good and it doesn’t feel like work. I don’t think it can hurt anything to try shorter daily fasts. The studies on IF are still young and a lot has yet to be proven, but so far, I feel pretty good. When I get my next medical checkup, I will have more concrete evidence on how it is working out for me personally.”

But by far the best thing about IF, Zora says, is that it gives her more time to get things done. Zora practiced intermittent fasting when she was creating her Longevity Master Plan, which took her four months to put together.

“I needed to get the program out as soon as I possibly could, so I couldn’t waste time shopping for food, prepping meals, cooking them, eating it all and then cleaning up afterwards,” Zora said. “This can take an extra two to four hours of your day, which I didn’t have when trying to build a new product, keep current clients happy, raise a family and still take care of my own health and fitness. I found that IF fit really well into this time of my life and helped me get my project done in a shorter amount of time, because I could focus and concentrate on getting the work done. Without IF, I am guessing it would have taken me two months longer.”

Do you practice mindfulness throughout the day — pausing to just sense and take in everything around you? It may help you live longer by reducing oxidative stress in your body. Credit: shironosov.

Do you practice mindfulness throughout the day — pausing to just sense and take in everything around you? It may help you live longer by reducing oxidative stress in your body. Credit: shironosov.

Don’t Ignore Stress or Pain

Stress and pain management might seem like superficial aspects of heathy aging, but they can have profound effects on weight, metabolic health, physical function, inflammation and a whole range of other healthy aging markers.

“If you have a chronic pain in your back, it can affect your mood or even make your depressed which in turn, along with your back pain, will keep you out of the gym. Because you don’t exercise, you might not replenish your body with healthy foods and you might gain weight, which could further keep you out of the gym and make you depressed,” Zora said. “It’s a vicious cycle. If you don’t take care of that pain or stress in your body, you aren’t going to help yourself age well.”

To manage her emotional stress as well as body aches and pains, Zora practices yoga and meditation twice a week. She also regularly visits the sauna, which helps her destress. Not only does she uses her time in the sauna to meditate, but research indicates that sauna use may be associated with reduced all-cause mortality.

Zora tries to carry mindfulness with her throughout the day. She even practices mindful eating, savoring every bite and experiencing all the flavors of her food.

“Eating slowly and savoring every bite helps you to become more mindful, but it also helps you lose weight because you’ll be much less likely to overeat,” Zora said.

Move Every Day

The longest living people on the planet probably aren’t going to the gym and lifting weights, but they are moving every day,” Zora said. “I think our modern society has discouraged movement — we sit in desks and push buttons while many people in other countries are still washing their clothes by hand and pumping their biceps rolling down their car windows. We’ve lost our daily movements.”

Zora encourages her clients to move every day, whether it’s just taking a long walk or doing a 30 minute yoga session. She personally practices moderate exercise every day, either hiking, walking briskly or doing yoga, and a few times per week practices high-intensity interval training.

Train Your Brain

Zora is a also big fan of brain training apps like Memorado. Every day she plays math, word or puzzle games on her phone to keep her memory and critical thinking skills sharp. She recently started taking classes in Chinese.

“Learning a foreign language is great for brain training,” Zora said.

It All Comes Together

Zora encourages anyone interested in expanding their healthspan to create good habits over time and to self-experiment. She believes that it doesn’t take being a rocket scientist to figure out how to live for a longer healthspan. For anyone who wants to learn, Zora recommends following Dr. Sara Gottfried and Dr. Rhonda Patrick. Rhonda Patrick regularly interviews experts in scientific fields related to healthy aging at

Some of Zora’s clients also find their motivation for behavior change after taking a test that estimates their biological age — seeing that your “inner” age is greater than what it should be is often the kickstart people need to eat healthier, sleep better and move more, Zora says. InsideTrackerTeloYears and myDNAge are all examples of tests that can estimate your biological age based on blood and genetic biomarkers, and provide recommendations of how to make yourself look younger where it counts, on the inside. LifeOmic’s LIFE Extend app will also offer a biological age estimation calculator integrated with health tracking along five health pillars — exercise, sleep, fruit and vegetable intake, intermittent fasting and mindfulness.

“What most of my clients don’t realize is that making positive changes according to the pillars of longevity will result in changes in gene expression, lengthening of their telomeres and protection of their DNA, changes they will enjoy for the rest of their lives,” Zora said.

Interested in taking more control over your healthspan? Sign up for LifeOmic’s LIFE Extend app and explore intermittent fasting at