Simple Habits that Could Add Years to Your Life
What if you could add two, five, or even ten years to your life and have more fun doing it? Seems like a no-brainer, right? There’s still no fountain of youth, but researchers have discovered easy (and fun) tips that each may add a few years to your life. The average American’s current life expectancy is 78.7 years, and although genetics plays a large role in longevity, experts say there are some factors that are in your control, which can help you live the longest, healthiest life possible.
Of course, there are the obvious things — like quitting smoking and eating a nutritious diet — but some of the other effective lifestyle habits that you could change, or adopt, might come as a surprise. Let’s take a look at a few ways to start adding years to your life.
Adopt a four-legged companion
A review was published in the journal Circulation that contained some great news for animal lovers. Researchers found that having a pet — specifically a dog — can help you live a longer life! Researchers believe that dog owners are at a lower risk of heart disease because they tend to be more active and more positive when they’re around their furry friends. Dogs can also help lower stress levels and make us feel happy, which also helps decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Now you have an excuse to adopt that dog you had your eye on, or go check out the options at the local animal shelter.
Make it a point to floss every day
You might not realize it, but your dental health plays a vital role in your health and longevity. By flossing every day, you’re helping get rid of bacteria that could form into plaque, which your toothbrush can’t remove. As a result, you are at lower risk of developing periodontal disease and inflammation. Numerous studies have shown that a lack of flossing can lead to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack due to this inflammation and bacteria. So, according to the American Dental Association, you should make it a point to floss at least once a day. Twice is even better!
Eat lots of nuts
Nut lovers, rejoice! According to a 2013 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, people who snacked on nuts a few times a week were found to have a reduced mortality risk compared to those who ate nuts rarely or never at all. What makes nuts so wonderful is that they are jam-packed with antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids, and fiber. Nuts have been shown to reduce our risk of heart disease. Be careful, though! Since nuts are high in calories, it’s important to limit the portion size to around one ounce at a time.
Ditch the soda
For many people, drinking a soda is just as habitual as lighting up a cigarette or having a cup of morning coffee. However, if you want to live longer, studies say to knock it off. In the American Journal of Public Health, a study was published that found drinking soda on a regular basis can shorten your lifespan. The review took place over the course of five years, and researchers discovered a strong link between soda consumption and the shortening of telomeres, which are essentially caps at the end of our chromosomes, that are directly linked to the aging process. And if you like diet soda, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Research has shown that if you’re a heavy diet soda drinker, you’re still at a higher risk for diabetes, depression, and weight gain — none of which contributes to a long, happy life.
Feel free to get frisky!
Feel like spicing things up with your husband or wife? Well we’ve got good news then! Studies say an active sex life can help you live longer. There have been several studies over the years that reveal a link between orgasms and longevity. A study performed in 1997, for example, found that men who had more orgasms were at a lower risk of heart disease. They’re not entirely sure why this works the way it does, but researchers do know that sex has been shown to boost immune response, reduce stress, and work out nearly every muscle in the body. The optimal number of orgasms to yield best benefits is approximately two to three per week.
Incorporate more superfoods and adaptogens into your diet
Of course, it’s no secret that a nutrient-dense diet can help you live longer compared to a diet full of processed and packaged food. However, if you really want to add a mega-boost of nutrition to your longevity, you should make it a point to incorporate certain foods, herbs, and spices that are known to pack a super punch of nutrients and add years to your life. Superfoods like blueberries, salmon, quinoa and kale are known for their exceptional nutrient density, so eating them on a regular basis is wonderful for keeping your cells healthy and clearing out any toxins. Adaptogens are another wonderful ingredient to eat routinely because of their health benefits. Adaptogens are plants, usually herbs, roots, and mushrooms, that decrease our body’s reactivity and sensitivity to stress. Maca, ginseng, and holy basil are a few examples, but there is a long list of them for you to choose from and integrate into your daily meals.
Seriously – Stop smoking
You’ve heard it time and time again, but the importance of this cannot be stressed enough — smoking kills. The good news is that it’s never too late to quit smoking. In fact, even if you quit smoking after your 60th birthday, you can still add years to life! Smoking causes extreme and serious damage to your heart and lungs (but thankfully, your lungs have the ability to regenerate). Longtime smokers can expect to live approximately 10 years less than non-smokers, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine. What’s even more shocking? Ten years is just the average. Quitting smoking at any age will be beneficial to your health and mortality, but of course the earlier you quit, the better off you’ll be. If a person stops smoking in their 40s or 50s, it’s entirely possible for them to regain the normal lung function of a non-smoker. Of course, an active lifestyle and healthy diet would need to go hand-in-hand as well.
Maintain a healthy body mass index
This is one of the biggest determinants of longevity. According to a Harvard study on longevity, if your waist measures more than 40 inches (for men) or 35 inches (for women), then you need to lose belly fat in order to add years to your life. Join a gym or adopt whatever exercise works for you — just get moving and get to a healthy weight.
It’s never too early (or too late!) to focus on your health. Incorporate a few of these eight tips and you'll likely have a measurable impact on the total length of your life.