5 Tips To Lead A Long And Healthy Life
The anti-ageing business is booming as the ageing Western population strives to live longer and look younger while we do it.
The problem is, while our life expectancy is increasing our ‘health expectancy’ is decreasing and many people spend the last few decades of their life suffering from chronic disease and disability.
So what is the secret to living a long AND healthy life?
Physiologically, researchers have found a range of modifiable health markers common to centenarians free of chronic disease, including low levels of insulin resistance, optimal body weight, good cardiometabolic health (ie. cholesterol, blood lipids and blood pressure), healthy antioxidant defences and control of inflammation.
These findings indicate that achieving old age is not only due to ‘good genetics’ as we often think, but can be significantly determined (by up to 75%) by environmental factors, lifestyle and dietary habits!
Interestingly, some centenarians tell us their secret to long life is getting plenty of sleep and eating anti-oxidant rich foods while others credit bacon and alcohol!
Either way it is clear that not one size fits all when it comes to longevity.
However, there are a few basic and universal recommendations that have been proven to enhance not only lifespan but health and happiness too!
1. Do What Makes You Happy
Several studies show that a high level of subjective wellbeing based on life satisfaction, positive emotions, optimism and a lack of negative feelings causes better health and longevity.
In fact, high subjective wellbeing has been found to add up to 10 years to life in comparison to people with low subjective wellbeing!
Happiness throughout the ageing process may be enhanced by factors such as having a sense of purpose in life, spiritual connections or faith in religion, self-expression and having creative outlets.
We encourage individuals to get involved in at least one creative activity or hobby a week such as gardening, painting, singing, etc. This is also a great way to remain mentally and physically active.
2. Keep Moving
We’ve known for years that regular physical activity plays a key role in the prevention and management of chronic disease, particularly in the ageing population. Exercise is also an excellent opportunity to remain socially engaged through exercise groups.
Exercise in later life doesn’t have to take the same form as intense workouts younger people often undertake. Generally, the best results come from moderate exercise for at least 40 minutes 4 times weekly (eg. swimming, stationary cycling, walking).
Healthy ageing can also be enhanced by strength training using weights, bands or body weight for resistance. This type of strength training particularly benefits skeletal muscle mass and metabolic health factors such as insulin sensitivity.
From personal experience, I can attribute a large part of my grandmother’s physical and mental wellbeing (up to the age of 100) to her daily practice of gardening.
3. Eat A Balanced Diet
Our dietary choices have the ability to accelerate or abate certain aspects of the ageing process.
Generally speaking, a healthy and longevity-promoting diet doesn’t have to be complicated.
Firstly, don’t overeat – numerous studies have shown that caloric restriction is beneficial to genetic health and longevity. Secondly, simply stick to eating unprocessed, fresh, whole foods and include plenty of fresh fruits and veggies in your diet.
The best foods for reducing inflammation and oxidative stress which are major drivers of premature ageing include: berries, cruciferous veggies (eg. broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower), herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger cinnamon and garlic, raw nuts and seeds and green tea.
4. Rest and Relax
Adequate sleep is essential for overall wellbeing and cellular repair and renewal.
Poor quality sleep, chronic over-sleeping or under-sleeping can have many negative effects on the body including increased inflammation, hormonal disturbances and reduced cognitive function.
Research indicates that the optimal amount of sleep for longevity is 6-8 hours each night.
If you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, read here for more information on natural techniques to improve your sleep!
In terms of stress management, rest is essential as are effective stress-coping strategies. Stress is one of the most damaging factors to health and will significantly accelerate the ageing process.
For some great ideas on how to manage your stress, read on here.
5. Stay Social
Strong social support networks (family members, friends and the wider community) have a very beneficial impact on the health of ageing individuals.
A recent review of research on over 300,000 adults around the age of 60 found that individuals with adequate social relationships have a 50% greater likelihood of survival compared to those with poor or insufficient social relationships.
This effect is comparable with quitting smoking and it exceeds many other well-known risk factors for mortality (e.g., obesity, physical inactivity).
Research also shows that owning a pet (another form of ‘social interaction’) can improve wellbeing as pets offer psychological and physical benefits to their owners.
If you would like to speak to one of Emed’s qualified Naturopaths about healthy ageing as it relates to you, contact us today via email or phone.
- Activate Your Genes To Live Longer and Beat Diseases of Ageing
- Fountain of Youth – Everything You Need to Know About Anti-Ageing
- Change Your Genes, Change Your Destiny
- Stay Healthy at Every Age – A Nutritional Guide
Diener, E. et al. 2011, Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity, Applied Psychology, Health and Well-being, Vol. 3(1)
Holt-Lunstad, J. et al. 2010, Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review, PLOS Medicine
Martin, S.L. et al. 2013, Medicinal Chemistry of the Epigenetic Diet and Caloric Restriction, Current Medicinal Chemistry, Vol. 20(32)