Cheat Death And Grow Younger With These 44 Longevity Tips
“Biologists estimate that the human body has the potential to last 120 years, and how you live determines 75 percent of how far you go.”
Yes, medical advances theoretically make it possible for us to live to the age of 120. But despite what science tells us, the average life span for Americans is just 76 years. So what are you doing wrong? Don’t even think of blaming your parents. Genes are only 30 percent responsible for how long we live and how we age. The rest is pure lifestyle.
We haven’t yet discovered the magic way to “stay young” but there are certainly things that you can do to prevent premature aging and increase your quality and length of life. So to help you bank an extra decade or two, I’ve rounded up research on dozens of ways to live longer. And remember, the more of these steps you take, the greater the chance that you’ll be alive and well at the turn of the twenty-second century.
1. Stop being so hard on yourself.
Stop your negativity! Lighten up! According to a University of Michigan research, men who think the worst of themselves may be headed for early graves. Scientists found that those who saw every personal setback as a catastrophe had a 25 percent greater risk of death and died an average of 2 years earlier than men who addressed their failures more positively. So the old luxury of negative self talk, self condemnation, put downs, and self degradation must cease, permanently.
2. Hire a guy to clean your gutters.
Before you go climbing ladders or fiddling with electrical appliances, think again. Household accidents happen all the time. And according to University of Pittsburgh calculations, falls at home decrease average life expectancy by 13 days; fires and burns take off more than 2 weeks. Altogether, accidents in your own house can shave nearly 3 months off your life.
3. Treat your ulcer.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Gastoenterology, curing your ulcer adds 2.3 years to your life. So if you experience any chronic stomach pain, having it checked could be a life-extending strategy. Antibiotics and acid-blockers can handle the problem. It’s also very important to stop doing things, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, that damage the lining of your digestive tract.
4. Eat your sea vegetables.
Seaweed and marine algae are vegetables from the sea that have long been considered to possess powers to prolong life, prevent disease, and impart beauty and health. There is no family of foods more protective against radiation and environmental pollutants than sea vegetables, they can prevent assimilation of different radionuclitides, heavy metals such as cadmium, and other environmental toxins. Containing more calcium than milk, more iron than beef, and more protein than eggs, seaweed is also a rich source of micronutrients. So include them into your diet.
5. Sugar’s side effects aren’t so sweet.
The average American consumes nearly 240 pounds of sugar per year. And most of the excess sugar will get stored as fat in your body, which elevates cancer risk and can suppress your immune function. When study subjects were given sugar, their white blood cell count decreased significantly for several hours afterward. This held true for a variety of types of sugar, including fructose, glucose, honey and orange juice. In another study, rats fed a high-sugar diet had a substantially elevated rate of breast cancer compared to rats on a normal diet. To live long, draw sweetness from other aspects of your life.
6. Buy a dog.
But only if you plan on taking him for a walk every day. According to a Cooper Institute research, men who walked briskly for just 30 min. at least five times a week improved their physical fitness to a level linked with a life expectancy five years longer than that of unfit men.
7. Take in 300 milligrams of vitamin C every day.
According to a UCLA school of public health research, men with high vitamin C intakes live longer than men with low intakes. A 35-year-old man who takes in 300mg. or more of C a day has a life expectancy 5.5 years longer than a man whose daily intake is less than 50 mg. Vitamin C may not get all the credit – high intake is often a sign of healthy habits – but getting enough C from fruits, vegetables, and supplements is definitely a smart move.
8. Take Monday off.
According to a new study conducted at the State University of New York, the reduction in stress from missing a few days of work shrinks heart-attack and stroke risk by nearly 30 percent.
9. Stop putting things in your mouth and setting them on fire.
You have probably heard this more times, than you can count but facts are facts! There is no other way to say it – smoking is not only bad for your health, it is deadly! While this will not work for everyone, the next time you pick up a cigarette; take a minute to consider how your child or family would feel if you were no longer around.
10. Keep your cholesterol below 200.
It’s important to keep your cholesterol levels within healthy limits. Whatever it takes – diet, fitness, drugs – drop your total cholesterol below two bills. With every one percent reduction of total blood cholesterol, there is about a two percent reduction in the risk of heart attack. So bringing down moderately high cholesterol (up to 239) will buy you an extra six months, according to research. And if your level is in the 300+ range, dropping down to 200 can extend your life by more than four years.
11. Have sex as often as possible.
Uh, does it really matter? There seems to be a “dose-response” relationship between orgasms and heart problems – the more sex you have, the less heart disease you’ll suffer. British researchers who studied sexual activity and mortality in a group of 1000 men found that those who had at least two orgasms a week had half the death rate of their countrymen who indulge less than once a month.
12. Keep the bottom number of your blood-pressure reading below 80.
Taking steps to lower your blood pressure can add years to your life. If your diastolic (bottom number) reading is 90 to 95, reducing it to 80 can gain you up to 2.4 years. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits is an effective first step in both preventing and controlling high blood pressure.
13. Burn 300 extra calories a day.
An impressive number of animal studies show that decreasing calorie intake by one-third can lower cholesterol levels and increase life spans by a third or more. Decreasing daily food intake could also help ward off several age-related brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, according to findings of a University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging research team led by Mark Mattson, Ph.D., UK professor of anatomy and neurobiology. “The beneficial effects of the dietary restriction were striking,” Mattson said. Though researchers aren’t sure whether two-thirds the food translates into 20 or 30 more years in humans, there’s an easy way to buy yourself at least a few more healthy, active years, says Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of Age-Proof Your Body.
14. Bowl with your buddies once a week.
Next time your wife nags you about spending time with your idiot friends, tell her you’re doing it for your health. To live long and prosper, you need friends. In fact, one study estimates that being social can gain you nearly a decade. People with very poor social connections live 4.5 years less than expected, while those with very good connections live 4.5 years longer.
15. Run 2 miles four times a week.
A recent study of 18,000 men found that those who maintained the highest levels of aerobic fitness lived 8.7 years longer than the least fit guys. “We’ve all been told about the importance of aerobics in our daily lives, but this gives us the data to prove it,” says Ken Cooper, M.D., founder and director of the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, which conducted the study. To attain that top fitness category, Dr. Cooper recommends, run 2 miles in 20 minutes or less, four times a week.
16. Eat meat no more than three times a week.
Replacing some of the meat in your diet with soy, other legumes, and beans can increase your life expectancy by up to 13 percent. Also a major new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that the less red and processed meat people eat, the lower their risk of colon cancer. You don’t necessarily have to give up meat entirely to see a benefit, just increase your intake of beans and legumes, then limit your meat intake to 3 or 4 ounces, two or three times a week.
17. Get married.
Marriage has long been regarded as good for blokes’ mental and physical health – as long as you’re happily wed, of course. Numerous studies have shown that people who marry have a longer life expectancy, lower death rates and increased psychological wellbeing. And a recent University of London study found that marriage and cohabitation were especially beneficial for men.
18. Marry well.
While the phrase “marry well” is typically used to describe people who marry someone rich, I am talking about something entirely different: genetics. Apparently, longevity genes can be inherited. According to a February 2005 study in Mechanisms of Aging and Development, exceptional longevity and healthy aging is an inherited phenotype across three generations. So, for the single people out there, pick a spouse whose grandparents are still alive. This won’t make you live longer, but it might help your children.
19. Don’t oversleep.
According to an Archives of General Psychiatry study, sleeping too much can reduce life expectancy. Researchers found that those who sleep more than eight hours per night had a significantly higher death rate than normal. But late-night-party-goers shouldn’t rejoice: researches say that sleeping less than four hours also increases death rates. People who sleep between six and seven hours per night were shown to live the longest.
20. Just say ommmm.
In 1992, The International Journal of Neuroscience reported that daily meditation added a full 12 years, on average, to the life span of senior citizens. A study of 2,000 seniors found that those who did relaxation exercises daily had 87 percent fewer heart attacks than is normal for their age group, 55 percent fewer cancerous tumors and 87 percent fewer nervous disorders. To relax, try tai chi, meditation or yoga.
21. Eat like an Okinawan.
Okinawa is bristling with centenarians and life expectancy is in the high eighties. Why? It’s down to their low-calorie diet, which is rich in soya and coral calcium – available from Okinawa and your local health food shops. Scientists at the US National Institute of Health tested the Okinawa lifestyle on rhesus monkeys, giving them 30 percent less calories – they lived for the equivalent of 114 human years. So live for ages, be hungry all the time and eat soggy soya, or die young and munch lots of burgers. It’s your choice.
22. Get a VAP.
It’s estimated that about half of the people with heart disease (the No. 1 killer in the U.S.) have normal cholesterol levels, which raises serious doubt about the ability of traditional cholesterol tests to detect risk. But more advanced cholesterol tests, like the VAP test, made by the Birmingham, Ala.-based lab Atherotech, may remedy that. VAP measures important metrics that traditional tests miss. Regular tests only detect half of the people with heart disease, while the VAP has been shown to detect 90 percent of heart disease patients. That’s important because lipid abnormalities can most often be rectified with medication and dietary changes. And the sooner you start making changes, the better.
23. Move to the country.
According to a Canada’s McMaster University study, just living next to a busy road could knock 2.5 years off your life. Co-author Murray Finkelstein explains: “Air pollution does not affect your lungs but your heart,” he says, because pollution particles irritate arteries and can cause them to thicken and harden. So dust off that Barbour and take a course in horticulture. Countryside dwellers have a life expectancy of 84 years, as opposed to 76 for townies.
24. Go to church twice a week.
A study recently reported in Demography found that whites who attended religious services more than once a week lived an average of 7 years longer than whites who didn’t attend services at all; among blacks, the figure was 14 years. The churchgoers’ lower rates of smoking and drinking certainly account for some of this gain, but their strong social ties and other behavioral factors may also play a role, says Robert A. Hummer, Ph.D., a sociologist at the University of Texas.
25. Have a good laugh.
We all like a good joke, but did you know that the immune system loves laughter? When we laugh, cells that produce antibodies increase, as do T cells and natural killer cells that attack viruses. People who belly laugh also have lower-than-average blood pressure and a decreased risk of heart disease. Laughter can even benefit digestion and it’s a great workout for your diaphragm and abdominal muscles to boot.
26. Here’s the rub.
Think massage is just for pampered spa-goers? Well, think again. Medical school students at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School who were massaged before an exam showed a significant decrease in anxiety and respiratory rates, as well as a significant increase in white blood cells and natural killer cell activity, suggesting a benefit to the immune system.
27. End your McDonald’s addiction.
A study that followed more than 3,000 men found that those with the best diets were 13 percent less likely to die during a 20-year period than men with the worst eating habits.
28. Get away for some time.
A well-deserved vacation does wonders for your biological clock. Take advantage of any opportunity to go on vacation in order to release some of your stress. Going somewhere tropical also brings you more in tune with nature and the simple life another reason why Latinos live longer.
29. Feast on fish.
Omega 3 oil is one of nature’s miracle foods and studies are published almost daily as the scientific community discovers more and more of its many extraordinary benefits. Best obtained from oily fish, such as fresh tuna, salmon and mackerel, it’ll keep you going for years. It’s an anti-thrombetic, so it helps avoid blood clotting, heart disease and strokes, and anecdotal evidence has even shown it increases your sex drive.
30. Be rich.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 24 percent of Americans whose family income is less than $20,000 are “limited” by chronic disease, whereas only 6 percent of people with an income of $75,000 or more have this problem. In general, population groups that suffer the worst health have the highest poverty rates and the least education. One possible explanation: Higher incomes permit access to better food and housing, safer neighborhoods and increased medical care. Higher incomes also increase the opportunity to engage in health-promoting behaviors. Of course, being a chief executive certainly exposes you to a high level of stress that can decrease life expectancy. But according to the data, striving to be financially comfortable is a good goal for aspiring centenarians.
31. Get your old body back.
Time to let the air out of the spare tire. Reducing your weight by 5-10 percent can decrease your chance of developing heart disease or having a stroke. Also according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a 35-year-old who’s up to 30 percent heavier than his healthy weight can live 8 months longer simply by slimming down to normal proportions. If you’re more than 30 percent heavier than you should be, dropping the whole Buick translates into an additional 20 months. You can improve your heart function, blood pressure and your levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
32. Chill out.
According to a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study, men classified as having the highest level of anger in response to stress were over 3 times more likely to develop premature heart disease than those who reported lower anger responses. They were also over 6 times more likely to have a heart attack by the age of 55. One possible explanation is the correlation between anger and high blood pressure, a condition that commonly develops in highly stressed individuals. So your lesson is simple: Try as much as you can to let unavoidable, everyday stresses roll off your shoulders.
33. Eat your antioxidants.
Antioxidants protect our cells from damage caused by molecules called oxygen-free radicals. These oxygen-free radicals induce aging and are one of the major causes of disease. Because of their function in cell protection, the benefits of antioxidants are far-reaching and not contained to a single aspect of our health. Popping a pill to increase antioxidants in your body apparently doesn’t work as well as eating the fruits and vegetables that contain them naturally. And research shows that certain types of beans (kidney, pinto, black) are among the best sources of antioxidants, while blueberries and other berries follow close behind.
34. Drink green tea.
It’s those antioxidants again – green tea is bursting with them. Normal tea does contain flavonoids, but they are much more highly concentrated in green tea. It’s also very low in caffeine. Recent research has show that it can even stop you going bald, so you’ll have a full head of hair to go with those extra years.
35. Eat three candy bars per month.
Harvard researchers who studied 7,841 male alumni found that those who ate candy bars regularly lived 1 year longer than guys who never touched the stuff. But that’s no license to go on a chocolate binge. Men who ate three or more sweets a week, however, had a 30 percent higher risk of early death than men with more moderate habits-one to three candy bars per month. One theory in support of chocolate as health food: It contains phenols, antioxidants that help prevent fats in the blood from clogging arteries.
36. Manage your stress.
Everyone has stress to a certain degree, but not everyone knows how to manage it. The key is to recognize what the big factors are in your life and how to mitigate them. It’s been well established that one’s ability to manage stress profoundly influences midlife and future health. Learning how and when to practice stress reduction now may literally add years to your life. “I think stress kills more people than just about anything else,” says Dr. David Fein, medical Director at Princeton Longevity Center in New Jersey.
37. Ask lots of questions.
Our brains are wired to be curious. As we grow up and “mature” many of us stifle or deny our natural curiosity. Let yourself be curious! A study funded by the National Institute on Aging followed 1,100 seniors for 5 years and discovered that the most curious of the seniors had a 30 percent better chance of living beyond the 5-year mark than the less inquisitive subjects. According to David Larson, M.D., of the National Institute for Healthcare Research, “Higher curiosity levels may mean better adaptation to changes, stress, or challenges.” Another possibility: Losing your curiosity may signal a life-shortening decline in nervous-system activity.
38. Practice yoga.
While we love pounding that treadmill, it’s worth trying a mellower form of exercise. The long-term health benefits of yoga are that it’s a gentle, non-damaging form of physical exercise. It also provides muscular strength, flexibility, joint mobility and strong bones. Stress is a contributing factor to heart disease and high blood pressure, and yoga is good at relieving stress.
39. Never wear pants.
A Scottish neuropsychologist who has studied more than 1,000 eccentrics (subjects include a man who rappels from buildings while dressed as a pink elephant, and a fellow who built a lectern on his rooftop so he could sermonize to his sheep) found they live 5 to 10 years longer than more normal people. They’re unencumbered by the usual stupid worries that so-called normal people obsess over.
40. Drink a little red wine.
A glass of red wine a day is good for you, because it’s rich in antioxidants called polyphenols. Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, USA, found that a glass of wine a day cuts the risk of heart disease by 25 per cent. It also raises levels of HDL, the ‘good’ cholesterol, and helps prevent blood clots. So drinking red wine in moderation is better for you than being teetotal. Cheers.
41. Cut back to a six-pack a week.
In 1993, government researchers estimated that a moderate level of drinking (one to two drinks per day) could increase an individual’s life expectancy by 3 percent. (For most guys that’s 2 to 3 years.) Since then, evidence of alcohol’s ability to extend life has mounted. More recently, Harvard researchers reported that men who had two to six drinks per week had a 21 to 28 percent lower risk of death from all causes than did abstainers. (Just remember that more is less. Drink more heavily, and your health risks increase.)
42. Eat more garlic.
Garlic has been referred to as “nature’s antibiotic”. It is a powerful cleanser of the body and regular ingestion promotes a healthy heart and circulation by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and also helps fight infection and boost immunity. There is also strong evidence to suggest that garlic helps with the prevention of cancers of the digestive system, including the esophagus, stomach, colon and rectum. Those who don’t like the taste of garlic should try the odorless supplements that are available.
43. Cut back on your car-phone calls.
Every day, 99 years of life are lost because of people who blab on their cell phones while driving and crash, according to Donald A. Redelmeier, M.D., of the University of Toronto. “A 1-minute cellular-telephone call, on average, yields a 45-second reduction in life expectancy for the individual.” He notes, though, that most calls don’t lead to fatal collisions. “Some do, and that can lead to an enormous loss for an otherwise healthy person who would have productive years and a long life ahead.”
44. Have another birthday.
And here is the last tip for you. By virtue of a mathematical phenomenon we actually like, every year you live helps you live longer. Here’s how it works: Because life expectancies are tabulated every year, they take into account all the babies born during your year of birth. But people of all ages die every day, so every day you don’t die you’re beating the odds, and your life expectancy is getting longer. To translate: A man who’s 50 years old today had a life expectancy of about 66 on the day he was born; by simply surviving 50 years he has increased that by 17 percent, and he can now expect to make it to his 77th birthday.
Life expectancy for both men and women has continued to rise with improvements in diet, awareness and medical care. These estimates are expected to increase further over the coming years, and to ensure that you are one of those helping boost future life expectancy figures, try these simple yet effective tips.
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