5 Proven Habits for a Longer Life
Living a full, long, and healthy life is something that we all aim for. Aging is necessary and healthy, but no one wants to age faster than we should, or take years off our lives! Unfortunately many times the habits we lead and the lifestyle choices we make conflict with our anti-aging (or should we say “healthy aging”) goals. In fact, we may be accelerating our aging timeline with our lifestyle choices. Eating high sugar foods, drinking alcohol, chronic stress, and insufficient sleep all contribute to accelerated aging and inflammation in the body. And all too often, chronic inflammation becomes chronic disease, which is on the rise in the United States. In fact, the US life expectancy has dropped for the third year in a row. The average life expectancy in the United States is now 78.6 years.
Now, if that doesn’t sound very old to you, it’s because it really isn’t for those that lead a healthy lifestyle. But what does that mean? For most of us, there are changes we can make to help us live longer. If you want to live as much life as possible (and if you’re taking the time to read this article you probably do), then keep reading to find out about five habits proven to help increase longevity, lower accelerated aging and help live your very best life, hopefully well into your 80’s and beyond!
5 Proven Habits to Live Longer
#1 Nix the Smoking
We all know that smoking is bad, right? Yes, of course we do, but so many people are still smoking daily. If you’re a smoker, or frequently exposed to second-hand smoke, then take measures to quit. Cigarette smoking causes premature death, as we all know. But did you know that the life expectancy for smokers is a whopping ten years shorter than non-smokers? That’s right. . . a whole decade! However the good news is, if you quit, your chances of drastically reducing your odds of dying from a smoke-related disease go way up. Quit before the age of 40 and decrease your risk by roughly 90%. Here’s just one more motivating factor to quit smoking today!
#2 Exercise Daily
What if all it took was 30 - 60 minutes of exercise per day to increase your life expectancy? Would you do it? The research is out — regular physical exercise can, in fact, help you live longer, and it doesn’t take much. A recent study found that the overall volume of exercise mattered more when it came to longevity than how hard someone exercised. So, even that daily walk with your dog is beneficial.
The bottom line here is to say goodbye to the excuse that you don’t have enough time to exercise, or you don’t have the energy for high-intensity workouts. If all you manage is a daily 30-minute walk or yoga routine, you can help improve the quality and the length of your life.
#3 Lose Excess Weight
Being overweight can put you at an increased risk for certain chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease, which can both decrease your lifespan. Even moderate obesity can decrease your lifespan by three years, and severe obesity by ten years, which is equivalent to the effects that smoking has on lifespan.
So, if you are overweight, aim to keep your body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9 by eating a clean and balanced whole foods diet and exercising regularly. Not only can it improve the quality of your life, but it can literally add years to your lifespan.
#4 Nom Nom Nom on a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy (anti-inflammatory) diet can help support a healthy weight and decrease inflammation, two key parts of supporting health and living longer. Focus on getting plenty of omega-3 right foods in your diet from flax, chia, and hemp seeds, as well as wild-caught salmon and walnuts, to help decrease inflammation. Lower your sugar intake, eliminate trans and hydrogenated fats from your diet from foods like margarine, pastries, and fried foods. You will also want to eat plenty of dark leafy greens, and high fiber veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. And to further your inflammation fighting efforts, take your curcumin daily. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric that helps to fight free radicals in the body. Taking a high-quality curcumin consistently can help fight the negatives from eating the not-good-for-you foods, and can increase the benefits of a healthy diet.
#5 Say No to Happy Hours and Alcohol
You will also want to avoid alcohol or at least consume very little to help increase longevity and lower your inflammatory load because alcohol is extremely inflammatory to the body. One study found that there really is not an overall net benefit to drinking, even that daily glass of red wine. So skip the happy hour drink specials! Life expectancy was found to decrease with consuming more than seven standard drinks per week. A standard drink is considered to be one small can of beer or a five-ounce glass of red wine with less than 12% alcohol volume. So, the bottom line is, it’s better to stop drinking altogether, or at least really restrict how much you drink — less frequently and in moderation.
The Bottom Line
There you have it, five tips to help you live a longer life, feel your best, and decrease your risk of things like chronic disease.
Increasing your odds of a longer and healthier life really isn’t all that complicated, and you have all the power to make the necessary changes. If you smoke, quit! If you know you need to improve your dietary habits, start by cutting some sugar out, focusing on whole foods, and adding more fiber, and omega-3 rich foods to your diet. Get your body moving daily, and cut back on your alcohol intake.
All of these dietary and lifestyle changes can help support a healthy weight, decrease your risk of chronic inflammatory disease, and ultimately help you live a longer and healthier life.