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10 Ways to Improve Longevity
Most people want to look and feel younger than their chronological age, but while superficial changes are one tactic, they can't increase your lifespan or reverse the aging process. Improving our longevity means rebuilding our lives to make room for healthier habits. For a healthier and longer life, try following these ten tips.
1. Change Your Diet
According to Time Magazine’s feature issue, The Science of Living Longer, only 25% of the risk of death is attributed to genetics, while 75% is a result of our diet. We can't control our genetics, but we can control what, how often, and how much we eat. Though it's easy to overindulge in unhealthy foods, it’s to our detriment. A 2017 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who increased their intake of healthy food by 20% over 12 years decreased their risk of premature death by 17%. When we eat well, our immune systems grow stronger and we have a better chance of avoiding chronic diseases.
Eating less red meat doesn’t necessarily mean following a plant-based diet, although that has its benefits. The Mediterranean Diet is highly recommended, as it’s full of whole grains, fiber, fish, fruit, vegetables, and plant-based proteins. From an evolutionary standpoint, we no longer require as much protein as we once did, either. According to the same Time Magazine article, people between the ages of 50 and 65 who consume excessive amounts of protein increase their mortality risk by 75%. Red meat, once considered a vital source of protein, is no longer as crucial to our diets as it once was.
3. Exercise More Frequently
Obesity is responsible for an average of 186,000 deaths each year, a clear warning sign that something needs to change. The US Federal Physical Activity Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity and muscle strengthening twice a week. Even short, 30 minute bursts of physical activity can be beneficial. The combination of exercise and a healthy diet has the potential to reduce early death risk by 17%.
Our mental state has a significant impact on our overall health and longevity. A study following 1,500 young boys and girls into old age showed that those who were considered persistent, organized, and disciplined lived 11% longer than those who were less conscientious. Mindfulness and organization can reduce stress, and since stress is often linked to health problems, these habits can lower the risk of disease and illness.
5. Minimize Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol consumption, particularly that of red wine, has been somewhat controversial over the last few years. Studies have suggested that alcohol could have some cognitive benefits, but there isn't enough conclusive data to support this. Recently, studies on alcohol consumption have claimed that there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume, as the net risks to a population far outweigh any potential benefits. The dangers of alcohol consumption are universal and include addiction, car accidents, and cancer. Increasing the odds of improved longevity means eliminating risks. For your best shot at a longer, healthier life, we recommend sticking to a maximum of one drink for women and two for men.
6. Quit Smoking
Though smoking has lost some of its popularity in recent years, it remains a real threat to longevity. By now, we all know that smoking has no benefits and plenty of risks, including mouth cancer, lung cancer, risk of heart disease, and other life-threatening diseases.
7. Get More Sleep
Sleep is necessary to live and can affect our day-to-day more than we realize. It’s crucial to follow regular sleeping patterns, which means going to bed and waking up at around the same time every day–even on weekends. One study shows that people who regularly get less than six hours of sleep per night are at an increased risk of premature death when compared to those who get six to eight hours. The average human needs at least six hours, though your preference can vary.
8. Prioritize Social Activities
Our social lives play an integral role in improving longevity. Spending time with friends or a larger group, like a sports team, at least once a week can help you live up to 50% longer. Strong social support can also reduce the impact of stress and anxiety, both of which can significantly decrease your lifespan.
9. Drink Coffee or Tea
After water, black coffee and tea are the most commonly consumed beverages in the world. Whether it's because they help us stay alert or because they've become ingrained in our daily routines, both drinks provide surprising health benefits. Green tea is associated with a reduced risk of stroke, diabetes, and depression, while regular coffee consumption is associated with reduced all-cause mortality and cardiovascular deaths. Too much tea or coffee can cause discomfort, though, so it's best to practice moderation
10. Find a Reason to Smile
Happiness is so powerful that it can reduce the risk of early death by 3.7%. Finding healthy, positive ways to reduce stress can help you feel better and live longer.
Live Well to Live Longer
Your genetic makeup may be beyond your control, but there are concrete steps you can take to improve your longevity. By taking a thoughtful approach to your habits, including diet, exercise, sleep, and your social life, you can add years to your life.
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