How to Live Longer
So you've reached that point in your life: you woke up one morning, not too long ago, and it hit you. It hit you hard.
You realised how most of your precious life was spent wasted. You've been living like a well-oiled machine (mostly) for so many years, diligently following your routine...
But time is running out, isn't it?
You want to make the best of the time you have left. Better yet, you want to know how to live longer.
You've come to the right place. We've gathered the best and most reliable information available on how to live longer.
All you need to do is sit back, take a deep breath, and savour your favourite cuppa while working through this informative article.
Dr Keith Scott-Mumby says the following on how to live longer:
"It’s not a pill or potion! You just have to take care of yourself. Deep down, we all know that if you follow healthy lifestyle options, you will live longer. Not just that but you will enjoy better health in your life."
A large study which followed over 78,000 women and over 44,000 men made some interesting discoveries about longevity.
What they found is nothing new though. As with so many other health- and wellness related truths, the mainstream medical establishment is only catching up now.
The study mentioned above concluded that there are five healthy habits all of us can practice to live longer. They are (in no particular order):
- Don't smoke.
- Regular exercise.
- Don't drink too much alcohol.
- Follow a healthy diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
If we ignore external factors such as accidents, it's scientifically valid to say your life is literally in your own hands. It's exciting!
Dr Keith Scott-Mumby further states:
Lifespan is how long you can expect to live, on average. But there’s a better concept: "Health Span". Lifespan is simply how many years you live and breathe. But for over a decade, the Longevity Institute of the University of Southern California (USC) a leading biomedical research center for aging and longevity, has been researching how to improve a person’s Health Span – the happy part of life prior to the onset of some calamity such as diabetes, heart attack, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s and auto-immune diseases.
It’s not the same as Lifespan, obviously. But hopefully nearly the same length of time. Our Health Span is critical and we want it as long as possible, staying healthy until the very end of life. This is a newer version of the old saying, that anti-ageing is not so much about putting years into your life, as putting life into your years!
Many years ago (1997) I wrote a piece entitled “Do You Want To Be An Old Crock Or A Classic Car?” It may help to picture this in terms of the ageing of a motor car. Typically, a well-used car will last 10- 20 years and then fall apart, unsafe to be repaired. The better the maintenance, the longer it takes to crumble, naturally; if you omit routine oil changes and other vital tasks, the car will soon fail mechanically. But then some cars, so-called Classic Cars, are in sweet running order and perform reliably when they are 80, 90 or even more than 100 years old. Why is that?
The answer is so obvious, it screams at you: they have been properly looked after.
Now I know what you're saying to yourself (or to the screen you're reading this on): "This doesn't help me one bit! I lack one or more of these healthy habits. I came here for a solution. Now you're telling me, in not so many words, that I can't live longer."
Don't stop reading just yet. I have fantastic insights to share with you.
Your body can regenerate itself to an amazing degree given the right circumstances.
If you make the choice to turn to nature for answers, the door to a better, happier, longer-living you is wide open.
You can recover your health. And I know you will.
Let's discuss easy, practical habits you can implement when you're done reading this article.
OK, maybe not that fast... But you have no excuse to not implement them during the next week.
Just remind yourself that you can make it to 100 (and possibly beyond) if you get started with these healthy habits as soon as possible.
HOW TO LIVE LONGER: FOLLOW A HEALTHY DIET
Overeating is a Big No-No
Thanks to AskDrNandi.com for the image.
When you eat, just eat. Don't eat and chat on your mobile phone. Don't eat and browse Facebook. Don't eat and watch YouTube videos. Don't eat and work. Don't eat and watch TV.
When we engage in mindful eating, that it, savouring the moment of eating, we don't overeat. We listen to what our bodies are telling us and realise when we have had enough to eat.
Eating less slows down the ageing process according to a study by St. Louis University.
There is a tradition in Japan they call, "hara hachi bu". It means you should eat until you're 80% full. Japanese have the highest life expectancy in the world. They're doing something right, right?
Eat more Plant Protein
Protein from plants lowers our risk of heart disease-related deaths. They supply our bodies with the nine amino acids we cannot produce by ourselves.
Plant-based proteins also lower blood pressure and decreases the risk of developing cancer. Here are five of the best sources of plant-based proteins that will help you in your quest to live longer:
- Lentils (one cup contains 18 gramme of protein)
- Hemp seeds (three tablespoons contains 10 gramme of protein)
- Potatoes (one large potato contains 7 gramme of protein)
- Spinach (one cup of cooked spinach contains 5 gramme of protein)
- Peas (1 cup of green peas contains 8 gramme of protein)
Live Longer with Herbs & Spices
"Inflammation can speed up the ageing process, so anything that reduces inflammation may help to slow it."
These are the best anti-inflammatory herbs and spices:
- Black pepper
Eat Lots and Lots of Fruits & Veggies
If there is one take-away from this article on how to live longer, it would be this: eat your fruits & veggies.
A study from Imperial College London estimated that 7,8 million deaths all over the earth each year can be prevented with fruits and veggies, every year.
The vitamins, minerals, and fibre we get from plant-based foods is indispensable to our health. They build up our immune systems and help us fight against all kinds of diseases and ultimately help us live long, healthy lives.
According to a Harvard study, the rates of death from cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease were significantly reduced when people consumed nuts on a daily basis.
Walnuts, specifically, are high in anti-oxidants and is good for both the heart and brain.
If I were you, I'd always have nuts nearby to snack on. BUT don't eat them just as they are. You can read about the importance of soaking nuts and seeds here.
Next time someone eyes you because you're indulging in chocolate, you can tell them that you found out how to live longer and that chocolate is the answer.
Research suggests dark chocolate (we're not talking supermarket chocolates here) protects against fatal heart attack.
Another study found participants had better and younger-looking skins after drinking dark hot chocolate everyday over a 12-week period.
Palinski-Wade says, "Dark chocolate may improve blood lipids by helping to increase levels of healthy HDL cholesterol. Elevated HDL is not only protective to the heart, but higher HDL has been found to reduce the risk of cancer."
If you want to know how to identify the best dark chocolate, read this.
HOW TO LIVE LONGER: MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT AND EXERCISE
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is not as daunting as you think. It's all about your mindset.
Following a healthy diet alone will cause tremendous changes in your body. You'll be more energetic, your skin will glow, and your body will naturally get rid of excess weight.
Being more energetic because of your healthy eating habits will make exercise easier and fun.
Apart from a healthy diet, here are six tips on maintaining a healthy weight:
1. Always drink clean water. If you're in the mood for something tastier, make a healthy smoothie or a nutrient-packed green juice.
2. When it's time to fill up on your kitchen cupboards, plan ahead. Don't just storm into the shops and tempt yourself to walk up and down every aisle. Take the time to examine what you need, make a list, look yourself in the mirror and say, "Thou shalt not buy anything that's not on this list". Many people fail in many aspects of life because they don't practice discipline.
3. Be gracious to your body - you were not made to sit for hours on end day in, and day out. Make it a habit to stand up every 30 minutes (or at least once an hour). When you stand up, move around a bit and lightly stretch your body.
4. Limit eating out. If you do eat out, avoid unhealthy meals. Before you go to eat out look yourself in the mirror and say, "There's no such thing as 'I'll cheat just this one time' ".
5. Eat regular, small portions during the day.
Don't give your body and your brain the chance to team up against you and scream, "I'M STARVING".
That will prevent you from overeating come dinner time.
6. Challenge the people living with you (whether it's your family or your house mates) to adopt a new healthy lifestyle with you. That way, you can all positively influence each other and hold each other accountable when anyone slips up. Team work delivers amazing results.
The tips above are the easy part (for most people). But what about exercise? I dread exercise. That's why I've spent time researching how I can make it worthwhile and fun.
But before we talk about doing exercise, I'd like to talk to you about why exercise is important.
I've found that people are much more willing to do something when they understand the dynamics behind it - the "why".
Exercise helps us to maintain a healthy weight, and both exercise and a healthy weight are part of the five factors that will help you live longer. That, in itself, should be reason enough.
But the other benefits of exercising are just as exciting as the prospect of living longer.
Here they are:
- Exercise is the number one way to blow off steam before and after a stressful day. Just 30 minutes of intense activity a day stimulates your "happy hormones" and leads to a relaxed, happy you. Exercising does wonders for self-esteem and confidence.
- Healthy eating habits is not the only thing that will leave you feeling and looking like the Energizer Bunny. Regular exercise strengthens muscles and increases endurance. It delivers much needed oxygen and nutrients to tissues throughout your body and helps your heart to keep you going with no pressure. With an improved heart and lungs, you'll have enough energy to tackle anything life throws at you every day.
- Having trouble sleeping? Exercise. Regular physical exercise is scientifically proven to help you fall asleep faster and to enjoy a deep sleep. Don't go exercising before bedtime though - you'll then have too much energy!
- Having trouble in the bedroom with your soulmate? Exercise. You'll feel good about your physical appearance and have the energy to get intimate. Regular exercise may enhance arousal for ladies and prevent functional problems for gents.
Though it's important, exercise is something most of us need a LOT of motivation for before we'll do it.
As mentioned above, I dread the prospect of exercise. And with less than 5% of adults doing at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, I'm guessing I'm not the only one.
But I love doing fun stuff... So why not make exercise a fun, enjoyable activity?
Here are four scientifically proven ways to make any physical exercise fun:
Think about how many times music has made you feel better or worse about a situation. It just has a way of creeping into the deepest parts of our souls, doesn't it?
Our connection with music allows us to perform better when listening to it during a workout session.
It coordinates our movements during exercise and makes us think its not such a demanding task than we otherwise would.
The beat of your music can also affect how you synchronise your workout. Comana suggests the tempo of the music you listen to reflect the type of workout you’re doing. Look up the beats per minute (BPM) on any song here or listen and tap along to the beat using a BPM calculator. Here are some basic guidelines on which speeds to look for.
- Warm-ups: 100 to 110 beats per minute.
- Strength exercises: 110 to 120 beats per minute.
- Endurance, speed, and agility exercises: Higher than 120 beats per minute.
- Stretching: 90 to 100 beats per minute.
The music we listen to when exercising should help us cultivate sustainable behaviour.
If we're merely using it to distract us, or to help us tolerate the exercise, there's no reason to use it.
We shouldn't create a situation in which, if the music is gone, we have no reason to exercise.
2. Always Exercise Outside if You can
Exercising outdoors will help you experience less tension, anger, and depression.
Research suggests that exercising in natural surroundings, as opposed to indoors, increases engagement during that workout session.
It enriches the experience and at the same times allows you to experience the smells, sounds, and sights you would otherwise miss.
3. Encourage Yourself
Ever felt like you could conquer the world after reading a good quote? You should surround yourself with positive thoughts and inspiration.
Start a journal to track your progress and read about how far you've come on "off" days. You'll be surprised and delighted, and it will get you back on track.
Take sticky notes and write your favourite quotes of encouragement on them. Stick them everywhere you spend most of your time at.
4. Get Someone Special to Join You
Sometimes we're not in the mood to encourage ourselves enough to exercise. It's too easy to think of a good excuse why you shouldn't exercise. And, let's face it, even the worst of excuses will do when we're not "in the mood".
Research shows that people are five times more likely to exercise if their spouse exercises. But friends work just fine.
Fabio Comana says, "A support system brings camaraderie, collaboration, accountability, and perhaps some friendly competition."
HOW TO LIVE LONGER: DRINK LESS ALCOHOL
As humans, we have a strange relationship with alcohol... too much is bad for us, but a little does wonders for us.
Excessive drinking can increase the risk of health problems such as:
- Cancer in the breasts, mouth, throat, and oesophagus
- Sudden death (if you have cardiovascular disease)
- Heart muscle damage
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Accidental serious injury or death
- Brain damage and other issues in an unborn child
- Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
Now you may wonder: what exactly is "excessive drinking"? MayoClinic.org writes:
"Heavy drinking is defined as more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks a week for women and for men older than age 65, and more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks a week for men age 65 and younger.
Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks within two hours for women and five or more drinks within two hours for men."
That's enough of the bad stuff. Let's look at the good stuff.
"Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger."
Moderate alcohol use can:
Lower Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
A study by Harvard University found that "moderate amounts of alcohol raises levels of high-density lipoprotein, HDL, or 'good' cholesterol and higher HDL levels are associated with greater protection against heart disease. Moderate alcohol consumption has also been linked with beneficial changes ranging from better sensitivity to insulin to improvements in factors that influence blood clotting....Such changes would tend to prevent the formation of small blood clots that can block arteries in the heart, neck, and brain, the ultimate cause of many heart attacks and the most common kind of stroke."
Decrease the Chance of Developing Neurodegenerative Diseases
The journal, Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, reports that moderate drinkers are 23% less likely to develop neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. These were the findings of an extensive study which included over 365,000 participants since 1977.
Lower the Risk of Developing Diabetes
A Dutch study found that healthy individuals who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol have a less likely chance of developing type 2 diabetes in comparison with those who didn't drink at all.
"So, Metabole, you're saying that if I don't drink at all, I should get started."
Not at all! We're all unique and no two people are the same.
What works for you might not work for me. No one should start drinking just because of potential health benefits.
With all the benefits it offers, you're still much better off not drinking at all if you're not someone who uses alcohol in the first place.
But if you enjoy alcohol and you're healthy, there's no reason to stop drinking.
Just never, ever, overdo it.
HOW TO LIVE LONGER: DON'T SMOKE
Don't start, remove yourself from the vicinity of smokers if you can, and if you smoke... stop smoking.
Like you haven't heard that one before, right? But here's something to ponder on: if people are telling you to stop smoking, there's probably a good reason.
If you're a smoker and you want to know how to live longer, you'd better pay attention. If you're not a smoker, keep on reading so you can educate a smoker.
First, you need to know the purpose of this section is not to make you feel bad.
You're a good person. People care about you and they want you to be healthy so you can live a long and prosperous life.
We at Metabole are absolutely passionate about your wellness. We care about you, too. And we want you to make the best of your life.
Non-smokers, don't be mean to smokers. You do not understand what they're going through. Never presume to be better or to know better.
This section is to educate everyone on the real dangers of smoking. At the end, we'll provide reliable resources for those who want to stop smoking but don't know how.
It's true that some people who have smoked their entire lives never got sick. They never even developed a cough from it. It's a good argument.
Or is it? Let's look at the statistics...
- As at February 2018, over 16,000,000 Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking.
- Over 480,000 people in the USA die annually because of direct smoking.
- An additional 41,000 people in the USA die annually because of secondhand smoke exposure.
Those are just the American statistics. If your argument is that "there have been people who never got so much as a cough from smoking", it's a weak one.
Are you willing to gamble with your life simply because somewhere, someone never got sick or died because of them smoking?
The odds are against you. Read the statistics again.
Tobacco smoke is incredibly harmful to your health. There’s no safe way to smoke. Replacing your cigarette with a cigar, pipe, or hookah won’t help you avoid the health risks.
Cigarettes contain about 600 ingredients, many of which can also be found in cigars and hookahs. When these ingredients burn, they generate more than 7,000 chemicals, according to the American Lung Association. Many of those chemicals are poisonous and at least 69 of them are linked to cancer.
In the United States, the mortality rate for smokers is three times that of people who never smoked. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that smoking is the most common "preventable cause of death" in the United States. While the effects of smoking may not be immediate, the complications and damage can last for years. The good news is that quitting smoking can reverse many effects.
Watch the video below to learn more about the effects of smoking.
There is much to be written on the endless dangers of smoking. I hope this short piece prompted you to at least consider stopping once and for all.
If you're pondering on how to live longer and how to stop smoking, you should read the following:
Read the following stories:
A healthy lifestyle comprises many interconnected factors - implement one factor, and the rest will follow suit.
After working through this article, I know you're excited about the real possibility of living longer.
Knowledge is power. But that power is useless if we don't do anything about it.
Don't see the implementation of the five healthy habits we discussed as a daunting task ahead of you.
If I were you, I'd read through them again with a notepad and consider which one of the five habits would be easiest to start doing within the next few days.
Write a down a big number 1 with the habit next to it.
Then prioritise the rest of the habits in order of which ones you would like to implement next.
When you're done with the list, take a break and give yourself a pat on the back. You have officially taken your first steps to live longer.
Set up a schedule that will suit you. For example: "I will exercise for 30 minutes a day once the new week starts. I'll continue nurturing this habit for two weeks. After two weeks, I'll change my diet."
Don't be too strict on the order you'll follow.
When your schedule says it's time to implement a new habit and you're not ready for the one you wrote down, go through the list again and rearrange it to suit you better.
The most important thing is that you start. And once you've started, persist.
Don't give up. Ever.
AUTHOR: MELISSA NIEMANN
Freelance Writer & Artist
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