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Top 5 Tips To Promote Longevity From Within
We all have different reasons for wanting to improve our health and extend our lifespan. Are you looking to master your physiology for peak performance, or help raise your great-great-great-grandchildren? Maybe you want to visit all seven continents, or maybe you simply want to look and feel your best for as long as possible.
While we can't control all circumstances around aging just yet, getting older while growing younger is as much an internal process as it is an external one. Taking care of ourselves from the inside out is vital to our longevity, health, and overall wellness.
Here are five things you can do to promote longevity from within.
1. Get regular checkups from your doctor.
There are two critical pillars to longevity—prevention and early detection. Preventing disease is our ultimate goal, but if you do eventually develop any issues, you'll want to detect them early when they are easier to treat, as a complete cure may be more likely. Talking to your doctor and scheduling regular checkups also ensures that you receive the most up-to-date new technologies to stay ahead of the aging or illness process.
How often should you visit your doctor?
- Women: get tested at the age of 21, or within two years of having vaginal intercourse. Breast exams, blood pressure, and examination of the heart and lungs should happen every 1-2 years until the age of 30, and if these come back healthy, continue every 2-3 years until the age of 70.
- Men: get tested at the age of 25 as a baseline, and then every five years until the age of 40. Digital rectal and prostate exams should begin annually at age 40.
- Both women and men: both sexes need annual fecal occult blood tests for colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 50.
- Additionally: between the age of 40-45, your doctor should do a baseline comprehensive health evaluation, with scheduled periodic intervals every 3-5 years until age 60. After 60, every 2-3 years is optimal.
Of course, there are many more specific tests you can have done, including lipid profiles, homocysteine, and C-reactive protein, which we discuss at length in TRANSCEND: Nine Steps To Living Well Forever.
Be sure to organize your health history before your appointment. This preparation will make your time with your doctor more efficient and anticipate questions you may have so they may answer them appropriately.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
It turns out meditation isn't just for monks or yogis - there are a whole host of benefits to meditating. It reduces stress and the associated hormone cortisol, thereby limiting inflammation and increasing the quality of your sleep. Stress is inextricably linked to disease and a shorter lifespan, so learning to relax can make a big difference.
To introduce a daily meditation practice into your routine, keep it simple. All you need is a few minutes each day and a quiet space. Start with just 2-3 minutes per day and build from there.
Try one of these two methods and see which works best for you!
- Focused-attention meditation. Sit comfortably and concentrate on a single object, thought, calming sound, visualization, or just your natural breathing rhythm. The idea is to rid your mind of distractions or other thoughts. Be patient with yourself - this takes time. If you get distracted with other thoughts, just bring your focus back to the present and start again.
- Open-monitoring meditation. Sit comfortably and clear your mind, focusing on broadening your awareness of all aspects of your environment. Feel all the sensations in your body, and hear the sounds around you. This practice often evokes feelings or impulses you might usually try to suppress. Try to avoid judgment and just let these feelings happen. Remember, if you get distracted, just bring your focus back to the present and start again.
3. Be positive (or at least optimistic).
Being positive, or at least optimistic, doesn't mean pretending that challenging things don't happen—we know mental health is far more complicated than that. But cultivating positive habits and a cheerier mindset can actually increase your longevity. While this skill may come more naturally to some than others, developing a positive outlook isn't an impossible goal.
In general, optimism creates healthier bio-behavioral processes because it directly contributes to how people translate goals into behaviors. Optimistic individuals are also less likely to suffer from chronic diseases and premature death. Studies further suggest that optimism is directly related to 11 - 15% longer life span, on average, over and beyond the age of 85.
4. Be mindful of what you put in your body.
What you consume can help or hurt you. While food isn't bad, if your goals include a longer and healthier life, certain foods and drinks are more beneficial than others.
Nutrition is incredibly important to promote longevity. Time Magazine's feature issue, The Science of Living Longer, shows that only 25% of the risk of death is attributed to genetics, while 75% is a result of our diet. Plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans are especially powerful in decreasing your risk of disease and promoting longevity. Eating organic can amplify these effects for several reasons, including fewer harmful pesticides, GMOs, and environmental toxins entering our food system and our bodies.
Supplementation is also of vital importance to make sure your body gets everything it needs. Vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, B, C, D, and E help promote proper enzymatic function, while fish oil reduces inflammation, and antioxidants help repair cellular damage.
Limiting alcohol consumption - while still enjoying the potential benefits of red wine - can decrease your risk of heart attacks, homocysteine levels, and increase longevity. For your best shot at a longer, healthier life, we recommend sticking to a maximum daily limit of one drink for women and two for men. Otherwise, stick to herbal or green tea, coffee, and lots of filtered water.
5. Prioritize healthy habits.
Choosing better habits that are suited to our goals for longer life, health, and wellness are a must in all areas of our lives.
- Socialization. While relationships are external, the effect they have on our longevity is internal. Strong social support can reduce the impact of stress and anxiety, as well as help you make better decisions. Researchers report that maintaining healthy social networks can help you live up to 50% longer and that just three social ties may decrease your risk of early death by more than 200%.
- Exercise. Low to moderate intensity movement is a habit we have to develop if we want to live longer and healthier. Studies show as few as 15 minutes of exercise per day may help you achieve benefits, which could include an additional three years of life. Furthermore, your risk of premature death may decrease by 4% for each additional 15 minutes of daily physical activity. Fitness doesn't have to be complicated or involve experience equipment. Consider these three types of exercise to get the full benefits, put on a pair of shoes, and go.
- Detoxification. We are constantly bombarded by toxins from inside and out, and there's no way to avoid them all. But you can significantly reduce your exposure, strengthen your defenses, and remove accumulated toxins from your body and environment.
By taking a thoughtful approach to your habits, you can add quality years to your life. Prioritize checkups from your doctor, daily meditation, an optimistic mindset, a mindful approach to diet and exercise, detoxification, and healthy social activities
If all this sounds overwhelming, try starting with one of these steps, integrating it into your life before you move to the next. After all, small steps can lead to big changes.
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