These Simple Tricks Will Add 10 Years to Your Life
Living longer these days isn't as challenging as you might think. We all know diet and exercise is key to maintaining overall health, but there's many other positive lifestyle changes that make a big difference and can add years to your life, according to experts we spoke with. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Follow a Mediterranean Diet
Yale R. Smith MD, with The Center for Antiaging, Aesthetic and Rejuvenation Medicine says, "Eat a healthy diet, based on the Mediterranean model. This will lower your risk of diabetes and the cortisol that inhibits insulin production. If an immediate change won't work for you, begin with small changes. Start by substituting one fast food meal a week with fresh fish (not fried) and vegetables. Continue replacing unhealthy foods with more healthy foods."
Get Your Stress in Check
Dr. Smith emphasizes, "The biggest threat to your health and longevity is excessive cortisol levels caused by stress. Have your doctor check your cortisone level if you are under stress, then test to rule out other diseases. If stress and high cortisone levels are present and likely causing your physical problems, work with your doctor to identify the cause of your stress and develop an individualized plan to lower your stress."
Stay Physically Active for 30 Minutes a Day
Dr. William Li, physician, scientist, president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, and author of Eat To Beat Disease: The New Science of How Your Body Can Heal Itself shares, "Moving your muscles regularly, even walking, keeps your body's health defenses working as you age. Physical activity improves your circulation, activates your stem cells to keep regenerating your organs, improves your health, gut bacteria that help your immunity, and lowers body inflammation."
Stop Screen Time an Hour Before Bedtime
Dr. Li suggests, "Getting good quality sleep for 8 hours a night. Don't eat too close to bedtime which can interfere with deep sleep. Stop watching your screen for an hour before going to bed because the blue light from devices will make it harder to get deep high-quality sleep. Even though you may not be physically in motion during sleep, your body is highly active during deep sleep. This activity is recharging your health defenses, everything from your health gut bacteria to your immune system. Your brain actually expands and opens up a cellular sewer system during deep sleep to dump out the toxins it accumulated during the day."
Dustin Nabhan, VP of Health & Performance with Canyon Ranch adds, "Nighttime sleep and naps both reduce stress, which may be a reason that sleep appears to boost longevity. Create a sleep routine that works for you. This may include turning notifications off on your phone an hour before bedtime, reducing screen time, meditating to unwind, or incorporating blackout curtains. If you are still struggling with achieving quality sleep, talk to your doctor about a sleep study. There are also many smart devices that track how well you are sleeping and offer recommendations for improvement."
Get Early Mental Health Treatment for Depression and Anxiety
Gail Saltz MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry The New York Presbyterian Hospital and host of the "How Can I Help?" podcast from iHeartRadio says, "The earlier the treatment the more quick the resolution of clinical depression or anxiety disorders. We know that ongoing depression carries an increased risk of death by suicide as well as impact on the cardiovascular and the brain which decreases life expectancy. Similarly chronic high anxiety causes increased cortisol levels that harm multiple body systems."
Practice Daily Relaxation Methods
Dr. Saltz recommends, "Practicing daily relaxation methods, such as paced deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, etc. High stress leads to burn out, illness, shortened lifespan. Having a daily routine that decreases internal stress daily can decrease ongoing stress levels."
Eat a Plant-Based Diet
Lisa Richards, a nutritionist and author of the Candida Diet explains, "Longevity is highly connected to diet and lifestyle. Protein is essential to life. It is one of the three macronutrients that fuel the human body providing energy, muscle building, and much more. When it comes to protein, animals are not the only source that should be considered. Many plant-based foods provide protein that can meet the complete amino acid needs of the body, some individual and some through proper pairing. Plant-based protein sources are superior to most animal-based sources based primarily on their fat content. Animal proteins are typically high in saturated fat, excluding most fish, which is detrimental to heart health. Plant-based protein combinations that contain all nine essential amino acids are known as complete proteins. Some common complete protein combinations include whole grain brown rice and black beans, whole wheat bread and peanut butter, pasta and peas, chickpeas and tahini (which are in hummus). Quinoa and soy are both plant-based complete proteins on their own. An added bonus of switching to plant-based sources of protein is the addition of anti-aging, and reversing in some cases, antioxidants present in many plant foods."
Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD reveals, "Intermittent fasting may be an excellent way for those over 50 to lose weight and also improve their longevity. The intermittent fasting approach is typically done in a 16 hour fasting window with an 8 hour eating and drinking window. Alternate day fasting requires the dieter to fast one day and eat / drink the next. Twenty-four hour fasts are done once or twice a week, rather than alternate days like the previous. For periodic fasting the individual will fast multiple days, three or less, once a month. Dry fasting is said to have weight loss and immune support benefits. Weight loss is attributed to the decrease in food while the immune benefits are from specific cellular processes that occur. Damaged cells are more easily removed from the body during this time as the digestive tract can focus on this process alone and the immune system is essentially reset."
Eat Less Red Meat
Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and National MediaSpokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shares,"Red meat and processed meats like sausage, bacon, deli meats, are high in saturated fat, which is pro-inflammatory, and can cause plaque buildup, which increases risk for both heart and neurodegenerative diseases. Processed meats also contain high amounts of sodium, which negatively impacts our heart health. For longevity, it's best to swap out the red meat for lean cuts of protein and plant protein choices such as beans, lentils, peas, nuts, seeds. They are highly nutritious containing vital vitamins, minerals and are a good source of dietary fiber and protein.. Nuts and seeds also contain heart healthy and anti-inflammatory essential fats. They can be made into bean or lentil or nut burgers, added to salads, stews, chilis,sandwiches, wraps, added to grain dishes, and can be blended up into dips or spreads (such as hummus, almond butter). The US Dietary Guidelines recommends 1½ cups of legumes per week and 5 oz of nuts and seeds per week."
Eat More Dark Leafy Greens
Ehsani says, "Dark leafy greens are one of the most nutrient rich foods! They are packed with vitamins, such as vitamin K, A, and C, they are rich in folate, iron, and contain a few grams of both dietary fiber and protein. Research has shown that individuals who eat dark leafy greens daily, had a slower rate of cognitive decline. Eat them raw, in a salad, add greens to smoothies, stuffed them into sandwiches, wraps or try them lightly sautéed. The US Dietary Guidelines recommends 1 ½ cups of dark leafy greens per week."
Prevent Blood Clots
Jean Connors, M.D., medical director in the hematology division of Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Scientific Steering Committee member for the World Thrombosis Day campaign says explains,"Blood clots are one of the leading causes of preventable death worldwide. In fact, 1 in 4 people are dying from conditions caused by thrombosis (commonly known as blood clots), according to the World Thrombosis Day campaign, and sudden death is the first symptom for nearly 25% of those who develop the condition. (WTD/CDC) The below health tips drastically decrease one's risk of developing a blood clot and can effectively add to your lifespan when followed closely.
- Stay hydrated every single day – by drinking water consistently throughout the day, particularly during high-intensity workouts and prolonged activity, you can prevent your blood vessels from narrowing and your blood from thickening, both of which increase the risk of developing a life-threatening clot.
- Exercise your legs when sitting – when traveling for long periods, whether in a plane, train, or car, it is crucial to take time to stretch your legs and activate blood flow. Using about five minutes of every hour is sufficient and exercises can be as simple as rotating your ankles, raising and lowering your heels, and tightening and releasing your leg muscles.
- Be aware of your family health history – it is common, especially amongst younger people, to not know your family health history. However, knowing the risk factors you might have in your genes can make or break when you find out about specific conditions or diseases you are prone to developing. By getting ahead of this and arming yourself with your family health history, you can prevent conditions before they develop and act fast to secure proper treatments. This, without a doubt, can extend your lifespan.
- Ask your doctor for a VTE risk assessment test – once you know your family history, ask your doctors for a venous thromboembolism (VTE) risk assessment test. This test or series of questions allows your doctor to accurately decipher your risk factors for developing a VTE and can prevent an often-overlooked cause of death from developing if done early enough.
- Cut out smoking– Smoking is also associated with a risk of venous blood clots, so if you currently smoke, stopping is an important step you can take to increase your lifespan."
Reduce Your Toxin Exposure
Emily Gold Mears, a former lawyer turned citizen scientist, healthcare advocate and author of Optimizing Your Health explains, "We are exposed to a vast amount of toxins every day. As we accumulate more and more toxins, our ability to remain healthy declines. The body burden of toxins is an undeniable factor in most, if not all chronic diseases. Increase your lifespan by eating organic food when possible, refer to the EWG (Environmental Working Group) for the cleanest and the most pesticide laden produce, filter your water, invest in an air filter, replace plastics with glass, ceramic or stainless steel, replace toxic cookware with non-toxic brands, replace toxic cleaning products with vinegar and water, invest in a non toxic mattress, replace personal care products with non toxic brands and stop using pesticides."
Learn How to Breathe Properly
Mears states, "As we age, lung function and capacity declines. This results in the absorption of less oxygen. Proper breathing is associated with nearly every aspect of good health and longevity. There are many different methods of proper breathing but the easiest include breathing through your nose instead of through your mouth. Another easy method to adopt is "Box Breathing". This is taught to Navy Seals, athletes and others. Inhale through the nose for a count of four seconds, hold the breath for four seconds, exhale through the mouth for four seconds and hold the exhale for four seconds."
Mears says, "As we age, the water content of our bodies decreases. All biological systems depend on water. We have heard for years that we should drink 8 glasses of water a day. This turns out to be just an average because the goal is to replace the amount of water that we lose throughout the day. Optimal amounts will depend on what climate you live in, how active you are, your age, your size, how much you sweat and how frequently you urinate. An easy way to monitor your fluid balance is to check your urine output. The darker the color of your urine, the more dehydrated you are, and the optimal color should be that of light straw."
Live Your Life with a Purpose
Teresa Cowan Jones, Director of Spiritual Wellness with Canyon Ranch says, "Studies show that purposeful living is linked with lower risk of heart attack and stroke, less inflammation (and therefore reduced risk for chronic diseases) and diminished rates of Alzheimer's. Additionally, when we find a sense of meaning in our daily life we become more resilient, motivated, and better able to tackle obstacles."
Find Balance Throughout Your Life Stages
Jennifer Baker-Porazinksi, Physician with Canyon Ranch says, "Family doctors are in a unique position because they get to follow their patients throughout their lives. From this vantage, we see firsthand how lifestyle choices impact health. Approximately 80% of chronic diseases are caused by modifiable risk factors, which means that simple changes can both prevent and slow their progression. For optimal health, I encourage people to engage in physical activities that they enjoy, to make healthy food choices, to avoid tobacco, to moderate alcohol intake, and to prioritize sleep. I also emphasize how important it is to connect with others, to manage stressors and to get outside in nature. This is my prescription for a happy, healthy life."
Don't Be Extreme
Stephen Brewer, Medical Director with Canyon Ranch states, "Live your life in moderation. Extremes of anything are generally not good. Extremes in exercise to overeating to working excessive hours have all been shown to be detrimental to our health. One needs to push ourselves on a regular, manageable basis. Overdoing it does nothing but result in breakdown of the body through overuse syndrome, disordered eating habits, and unnecessary stress from maintaining unsurmountable expectations. One needs to find a happy, manageable balance. This is where moderation is key."
Prioritize Self-Care That Works For You
Deirdre Strunk, VP of Spa at Canyon Ranch says, "We are all busy. It's the nature of the world we live in today. But making time for self-care should rank up there with that work deadline or what to eat for dinner. Self-care can be as simple as taking the longer route home because you enjoy the view more, getting lunch with a friend, playing music you enjoy while you do your daily skincare routine, or putting a face mask on during any of your mundane daily tasks. Find something that works for you that makes your day or week a little more fun, then make sure you prioritize that time for yourself. Increasing time for yourself in ways that you enjoy will reduce stress and contribute to a happier, longer life."
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