Just because one or several of your parents or grandparents passed away at a young age or earlier than was expected doesn’t mean that you have to either – or live a life that is less than optimal if you do reach the ripe old age of 90-100. Your longevity is not solely based on your genetics and there are several things that you can do now to increase your longevity and quality of life as you age. Environmental factors, such as diet and lifestyle are actually the keys here to a long, happy life.
Habits to Adopt for a Long Life
Eat more nuts. Super simple, right? Our first piece of advice is to incorporate more nuts in your diet. Nuts are packed full of nutrients! These include protein, fiber, antioxidants and others. The vitamins and minerals include copper, potassium, folate, magnesium, niacin and vitamins B6 and E.
The science says that nuts can improve heart disease, lower blood pressure, decrease inflammation, improve diabetes, reduce belly fat and even be protection against some cancers. One specific study found that people who ate 3 servings or more of nuts per week had a 39% lower risk of premature death. And that’s what we’re trying to avoid, right?
Stop overeating. Most Americans tend to overeat and consume way too many calories per day. Recently, scientists have been looking at the link between caloric intake and longevity. In fact, studies on animals have shown that a 10-50% reduction in caloric intake may increase the maximum lifespan.
Other studies have looked at certain populations around the world in terms of their longevity and caloric intake. Populations with a low caloric intake were known for their longevity and health with extended lifespans and a lower likelihood of disease. Calorie restriction also reduces body weight and belly fat, both of which is good for a longer lifespan.
However, long-term caloric restriction is not sustainable. Perhaps the answer is intermittent fasting?
Consume turmeric. Turmeric is a yellow spice that recently has come to light for its anti-aging and anti-inflammation properties. It contains curcumin, which holds antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It may also protect against cancer.
Animal studies have demonstrated a link between curcumin and increased longevity in insects and mice. Add some to your eggs, curry or vegetables, like potatoes.
Be physically active. This is a no-brainer! But we will remind you anyways because it’s that important. In fact, just 15 minutes of exercise a day could add 3 more years to your life! A scientific review found that in people who exercised (even less than the recommended 150 minutes a week) had a 22% lower risk of early death. At 150 minutes a week, that percentage was raised to 28%.
Eat more plants. With the recent declarations that some meats, such as deli and other processed meats, are carcinogenic to humans, more people are opting for a plant-based diet. This is great news because plant foods help to decrease disease risk and increase longevity. Plant-based diets are linked to a lower risk of premature death, reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, depression and cognitive decline.
All of these amazing benefits are due to a varied plant-based diet which contains lots of nutrients and antioxidants, such as carotenoids, folate and vitamin C. Other studies have found a 29-52% lower risk of dying from cancer or heart, kidney and/or hormone-related diseases in people who followed a vegetarian or vegan diet. Even if you still consume meat and dairy, just remember to add more plant foods to your diet!
Quit smoking. We all know that smoking is terrible for your health but many people still choose to smoke, unfortunately, despite its strong link to lung disease and early death. In fact, people who smoke could lose up to 10 years (a whole decade!) of their life and are 3x more likely to experience premature death than someone who never touched a cigarette.
If someone quits at 35 years old, they could add up to 8.5 years back on to their lifespan. If he or she quits at 60, he or she could add up to 3.7 years back onto their lifespan. It is never too late to quit!
Prioritize happiness. Being in a good mood and not being negative most of the time is actually a great thing for your health and longevity. The science even says that people who were considered “happier individuals” had a 3.7% reduction in early death over the course of 5 years. A scientific review of 35 studies discovered that happier individuals could live up to 18% longer than their less happy peers.
Maintain a social life. This can harder for some than others, but it is important for your well-being. Some researchers have even reported that maintaining healthy social networks could help you live up to 50% longer! Just three social ties could decrease your risk of premature death by more than 200%. This is because healthy social networks provide positive changes to your heart, hormones, brain and immune function, reducing the risk for chronic disease.
In addition, strong social ties could help you to react less negatively to stress. Stress, and especially chronic stress, wreaks havoc on your health, hormones and well-being.
Avoid chronic stress and anxiety. That being said, the next bit of advice is to avoid chronic stress as well as anxiety. This is especially important for women because several studies have demonstrated that women suffering from stress or anxiety are possibly up to two times more likely to die from heart disease, stroke or lung cancer. Stress and anxiety affect men as well, with premature death being up to three times higher in anxious or stressed men when compared to more relaxed peers.
Drink alcohol only in moderation. In addition to smoking, alcohol is also terrible for your health. Kick these bad habits to the curb! You’ll thank us later. Engaging in heavy alcohol consumption is linked to liver, heart and pancreatic disease. On the other hand, moderate consumption is associated with a reduced likelihood of several diseases and a decrease in risk of premature death. So, you do not need to completely abstain, but drink in moderation only.
Wine is a winner here, because it contains lots of polyphenol antioxidants. In fact, men who preferred wine were 34% less likely to die early than those who drank beer or spirits. Wine could also be protective against heart disease, neurological disorders and diabetes.
To stay within moderation, women should aim for 1-2 units or less per day and a maximum of 7 a week. Men should aim for less than 3 units and a maximum of 14 a week.
Be more conscientious. If you do not know what this means, conscientiousness is a person’s ability to be self-disciplined, organized, goal-oriented and efficient. A study followed 1,500 boys and girls into their old age and the kids who were considered organized, disciplined and persistent lived 11% longer than their other peers.
Conscientious people are probably less likely to take risks or react negatively to stress, being goal-oriented and persistent. Therefore, they are more likely to be successful in their professional and personal lives as well be responsible for their health. Conscientious people tend to have lower blood pressure and fewer psychiatric conditions.
Try being more conscientious in your every day life by making your bed every morning, maintaining a work or household chore plan, focusing on being on time and/or maintaining a tidy work space.
Have a good sleeping pattern. Sleep is so important for your health and a good sleeping pattern is a great habit to get into. You need sleep for your body or cells to function properly and for your body to heal. Longevity is linked to regular sleeping patterns, such as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
Sleeping less than 5-7 hours a night is linked to a 12% greater risk of premature death whereas sleeping more than 8-9 hours a night could also decrease your lifespan by up to 38%. The key is 7-8 hours a night!
Not getting enough sleep promotes inflammation, thus increasing the risk for heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Excessive sleep is linked to depression and low physical activity. Remember, 7-8 hours a night!
Drink coffee or tea. Surprisingly, both coffee and tea are linked to a lowered risk of chronic disease. Green tea contains polyphenols and catechins, which could decrease the risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Coffee is also linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Just remember that too much caffeine contributes to anxiety and insomnia so the best amount of caffeine per day is around 400mg or 4 cups of coffee, maximum.
There you have it. Thirteen ways to increase your longevity, that you can start now. Most of these are super easy to adopt as well. Start by picking a few on this list and making improvements, such as drinking some green tea, adding some turmeric to a meal or adding more walks to your daily routine. Most importantly, have fun and don’t stress!
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