There is a great deal of information available on the topic of longevity. However, it can be difficult for readers to differentiate between misinformation and legitimate factors that can extend your life. There is no question that sticking with the tried and true approach of living the most well-balanced, nutritious, fulfilling and stress-free life that you can will always increase your chances of living a long and happy life.
Eat Healthy Foods
This seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, many individuals are not truly aware of what they are putting into their bodies each and every day. Food is fuel, and it can be the greatest form of medicine, or a toxic poison. We all know that to be healthy we need to cut back on junk foods and increase our intake of healthy, whole foods.
The problem is that many people may think they are eating healthy foods when, in fact, they are just loading their bodies with toxic chemicals and foods that have very little nutritional value. To pack a nutritious punch in your daily diet, incorporate healthy foods such as:
- Organic fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains such as steel cut oats, multi-grain breads, brown rice and whole wheat pasta
- Organic, high-protein dairy such as Greek yogurt, low-fat milk and cottage cheese
- Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna and mackerel
- Olive oil, almonds, avocadoes and other sources of healthy monounsaturated fats
Steer clear of unhealthy foods that provide empty calories and offer little to no nutritional value. Even foods that are marketed as being “natural” can be chock full of unhealthy chemicals, food additives and artificial dyes. As much as possible, avoid foods such as:
- Non-organic fruits and vegetables (contain harmful pesticides)
- Non-organic dairy products (contain artificial hormones and antibiotics)
- Genetically modified foods, or GMOs (genetically altered foods that do not grow naturally, often cross-bred and grown with the use of dangerous pesticides and chemicals that can wreak havoc on the body)
- Artificial sweeteners (much sweeter than sugar, can lead to weight gain, may cause hormonal imbalance, linked to development of MS, ALS, Lupus and other autoimmune disorders, may be linked to certain cancers)
- Foods packaged in plastic containers (contain dangers petrochemicals that can disrupt hormones and may cause certain cancers)
- Packaged foods (filled with chemical preservatives and artificial ingredients)
- High fat foods
- Fried foods
- Foods with trans-fat
- Refined grains
The message has been the same for decades, and it still holds true. Smoking can cause a host of health conditions such as:
- Premature wrinkles
- Unhealthy skin
- Tooth decay
- Poor lung function
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- Heart Disease
If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, do whatever it takes to quit. Speak with you doctor about different treatment options that can help you quit smoking for good.
Only Drink In Moderation
An occasional drink here and there is generally considered safe for most people. In fact, many doctors recommend a glass of antioxidant-rich red wine every day to cut the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. However, the health benefits of wine, or even beer, will be trumped by the dangerous effects of overconsumption if not consumed in moderation.
A sedentary lifestyle is linked to a plethora of health problems ranging from obesity to increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Regardless of the type of activity you do, the important thing is to get up and get active. You don’t have to join a gym to reap the benefits of physical activity. Find an activity that you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Be sure to include both aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities.
Eat Less Meat
The jury is still out on whether or not a vegetarian diet is healthier than a diet that includes meat. However, there are an abundance of health professionals who agree that vegetarians tend to live longer. Animal protein takes longer for the body to digest than plant proteins. Plant-based diets require less energy to break down foods. Many people report a host of positive health benefits when switching to a vegetarian diet, such as:
- Improved skin
- Increased energy
- Improve mental clarity
- Weight loss
- Enhanced mood
- Elevated metabolism
- Improvement in allergies and asthma
Even if you can’t forego meat altogether, limiting your consumption to no more than three times per week can significantly improve your health and may add years to your life. When you do eat meat, choose lean cuts of poultry and steer clear of red meat as often as possible.
Having a strong social support system does more than just boost your popularity. Socialization is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Developing and maintaining relationships with peers is important because it can:
- Provide companionship
- Offer emotional benefits
- Decrease stress
- Elevate mood
- Encourage physical activity (exercise partner, walking around the mall, etc.)
Find others who share your interests and strike up a friendship with them. Get out and meet people. Whether you’re a yoga enthusiast, aspiring chef or a dog lover, find others with a common interest and go from there.
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is about more than just looking good in your favorite pair of jeans. Being overweight is linked to a variety of health problems. Gaining and losing weight puts tremendous strain on your heart. In fact, if your weight fluctuates just five pounds on a regular basis, you are at an increased risk of developing heart problems. Eat right and exercise to maintain a healthy weight and you’ll never have to worry about losing those few extra pounds.
Meditation is an effective way to relieve stress, improve focus and boost mental clarity. There are many different meditation techniques, all of which are equally effective at improving your overall health. Most types of meditation focus on:
- Deep breathing techniques
- Rhythmic breathing
- Fluid body movements
- Exercising control over thoughts
Cut Back On Calories
Even if you are at your ideal weight, cutting back on calories can help add years to your life. A popular school of thought is that the fewer calories we consume, the less out body has to work to burn those calories. This results in more energy in the body over time. Just cutting out 200 calories per day can make a significant difference in your overall health.
Become A Pet Owner
Being a pet owner comes with a wealth of health benefits. Numerous studies have been conducted over the years that point to a correlation between pets and improved health. Pet owners generally have lower stress levels and healthier mental states than their non-pet owning counterparts. Pets, especially dogs and cats, provide companionship to people of all ages.
There is no fountain of youth. Your best bet for maintaining your youth is to live a healthy lifestyle. The only real secret to longevity is knowing the healthy guidelines that you need to follow.