Society today is obsessed with living longer and looking better doing it, and in 2011 we are actually reaching that goal! Centenarians are now one of North America’s fastest growing demographic groups. Reason being? We know how to take care of ourselves better than ever before! So the key to a long life and a youthful look doesn’t lie in your latest Botox treatment but in how well you take care of your body. This week we will feature the first 15 of 25 easy tips to live a longer, healthier life.
Check back next week for the final 10!
15 Tips to Living a Longer, Healthier Life
1. Listen to your Mommy! When mama told you to eat your vegetables she was right. In a study of more than 34,000 people, having a diet high in vegetables added about 1.5 years to the lives of people who had a healthy lifestyle. New research suggests that the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables hunt down and destroy free radicals that increase the effects of aging. Asparagus is a great source of antioxidants and is also loaded with an amino acid called glutathione that fights premature aging by repairing skin damage. It is one of the best sources of folate, a B vitamin that helps prevent heart disease, and may lower your risk for colon cancer.
TIP: Steam it! Boiling asparagus causes it to lose vitamins. The longer you cook asparagus, the more nutrients you lose. You should have 7-9 servings of vegetables a day.
2. Respect your Elders Observe the elderly and determine what about their “oldness” you would like to avoid: a slow shuffling gait, poor posture, shortness of breath, memory loss. Keep and improve what you can while you can, and work towards preventing things now. You are never too young to start. Run on a treadmill daily to maintain a youthful gait, cardiovascular fitness and weight control. Frequent cardio exercise increases lung capacity up to 25 percent. Do a core workout regularly to strengthen your mid-section and improve your posture. Watch less TV! Watching too much television in mid-life has been linked to Alzheimer’s in old age.
3. Look After your Teeth Besides cavities and tartar build-up, neglecting your teeth can lead to many health problems that we usually don’t even think of: Heart disease, clogged arteries, stroke, tooth loss, respiratory disease, severe gum disease, ludwig’s angina (a potentially life-threatening infection of the connective tissue in the floor of the mouth), endocarditis, brain abscess, mediastinitis (inflammation of the region of the body that contains the heart, lungs, lymph nodes), osteomyelitis of the jaw (chronic inflammation of the jaw bone), facial cellulitis, pneumonia, sepsis. Brush your teeth twice a day and use dental floss daily. Avoid having too much high-acid food like orange juice. Go for a dental checkup and cleaning twice a year.
4. Watch your Blood Pressure Remember salt, being overweight and stress increases the risk of high blood pressure, while exercise, a healthy diet and relaxation reduces it. Go to your doctor for a yearly check up, eat right and take the time you need to chill.
5. Don’t Stress According to an American study, people who stress have three times more risk of developing heart illnesses at a young age. Schedule in “Me Time” into your weekly planner. Do something for yourself during that time to help you unwind from your hectic week.
6. Eat your Lycopene Watermelon, tomatoes, and carrots are some of the foods that are high in the nutrient lycopene. Research has shown that lycopene is considered a potential agent for prevention of some types of cancers (particularly prostate cancer) and heart disease. TIP: Fruits and vegetables produce more lycopene at room temperature than when chilled. A recent USDA study showed that lycopene levels in unrefridgerated watermelon rose about 20 percent in two weeks (they didn’t change at all in melons that were refrigerated).
7. Remember to Smile Kids smile all the time, but we grown-ups tend to forget to smile. Picture two 75-year-old people in your head. Picture one smiling and one frowning. Who looks the youngest and most energetic? Easy, the person smiling. Smiling shows that we are engaged with life and enjoying ourselves, and makes us feel better in the process.
8. A Toast to Life! A daily glass of red wine can extend your life. That’s because unlike beer and hard liquor, it contains resveratrol, a compound that has been shown in research studies to increase the life span of some animals, protect skin from signs of aging and perhaps help prevent skin cancer. But don’t abuse a good thing. One glass is more than enough. Drinking too much can seriously effect your liver and dehydrates the body which causes wrinkles! TIP: Act like a wine connoisseur and swish before swallowing. Resveratrol is absorbed better through the mucous membranes in your mouth than through your stomach.
9. Stay Slim Almost all men and women who reach age 100 are lean. Not only can excess weight lead to a slew of life-threatening diseases, but obesity is also associated with suppression of immunity and an increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s.
10. A Lesson from the Japanese The Okinawan area of Japan’s boasts having the longest life spans on earth. Okinawans eat sweet potatoes daily, often as a side dish, and are the world’s largest consumers of tofu. Sweet potatoes have more beta-carotene and vitamin C than carrots, more fiber than oat bran and are a rich source of DHEA, a hormone that may help the body defend itself against aging. Tofu may help prevent breast cancer and heart disease. Okinawans were found to have 80 percent less breast cancer and more than 50 percent less colon cancer than Americans in a study of more than 900 people age 70 and older.
11. Give up White Rice The outer coating of brown rice (which is removed to make white rice) contains a wealth of age-fighting micronutrients. Brown rice also has double the cholesterol-lowering fiber of white rice and is loaded with magnesium, which is known to relax muscles and reduce stress. TIP: Serving rice al dente will lower its glycemic index. High glycemic index makes your insulin spike and over time may lead to chronic inflammation, which has been linked to heart disease, arthritis, and other conditions.
12. Surround yourself with Positivity Being positive = happiness = looking young. It’s a simple as that! Keep negative people at bay. The grouches will pull you down with them. Laugh often, long and loud: when people laugh, tumor-killing cells increase their numbers in the blood stream, as does Gamma-interferon (a disease-fighting protein) and T-cells (immune cells) It’s ok to cry: tears are the best stress release. Whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, or hobbies, surround yourself with whatever you love. Tell the people you love that you love them at every opportunity. Your home is your refuge so make it that way! Stay neat, clean, and organized. Splurge a little on decor to make your home the comfort zone you envision. Don’t have guilt trips, don’t hold grudges, and don’t regret anything.
13. Shrooms! Mushrooms stimulated the immune system enough to ward off infections and tumors in preliminary animal studies. Consuming mushrooms daily cut women’s breast cancer risk by 52 percent in a study published in the International Journal of Cancer. TIP: Inexpensive white button mushrooms provided a better immunity boost than pricier varieties, such as shiitake and oyster mushrooms.
14. Ward off Osteoporosis We all know that calcium is key to osteoporosis prevention. Take 1,000mg of calcium daily. Exercise will benefit your bones no matter when you start, but you’ll gain the most benefits if you start exercising regularly when you’re young and continue to exercise throughout your life. Combine strength-training exercises with weight-bearing exercises. Strength training helps strengthen muscles and bones in your arms and upper spine, and weight-bearing exercises (walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, skipping rope, skiing) help the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine.
15. Age is just a Number… Believe it. We’ve all heard the saying “Your only as old as you feel.” Forget about your actually age. Thinking of your age will just make you feel, well…old! Stay active, travel, and don’t let a silly number bring you down.
Come back next week for 10 more tips to extend your years and make them the best!