Do You Want to Live Longer?

Saad Rana Jul 15 2014
do-you-want-to-live-longer

No, I’m not going to tell you that you need to cryogenically freeze yourself or make a clone of yourself to preserve your body, genes and brain. Instead, I’m going to tell you some basic small changes you can make to improve your life. Some things will be common sense, but every now and again we all need reminders on how to stay healthy and if you stay healthy, you will live a longer life. So let’s get to them.

Exercise

Of course exercise will be at the top of the list. Why shouldn’t it? Physical activity is extremely beneficial for you as it will maintain a healthy body weight as well as lowering your blood pressure. Both of these contribute to good heart health and prevents any heart diseases, which are the top worldwide causes of death.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system and it could cause you stress in general because you might not have a positive outlook on life if you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see. This could cause increased risk of disease, as well as an increased risk of cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a healthy and long life.

Take Care of Your Stress Levels

Stress can cause other issues such as psychological as well as systematic problems. It releases a hormone called cortisol. This hormone, when at high levels, can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. (To know more on how to reduce stress, read Beat Stress the Natural Way)

Meditate

Are you stressed? Then you should meditate. Meditation leads to less stress and lowers blood pressure. Researchers have found that meditation leads to an increase of an enzyme called telomerase. This enzyme is responsible for repairing telomeres, structures located on the ends of chromosome. Chromosomes are the structures found in living cells that carry genetic information in the form of genes. Chromosomes are like shoelaces and telomeres act like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Telomeres prevent the chromosome from unraveling, but as the cells further replicate (and they are constantly replicating to produce more cells), it becomes harder for telomeres to protect the unraveling of them – this is a known cause of aging. The enzyme telomerase is thought to protect the integrity and strength of the telomeres. So taking as little as 15 minutes a day to relax and find your inner peace can go a long way.

Laugh!

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body. So don’t sweat the small stuff and find humor in problems.

Socialize

Studies suggest that socializing leads to less stress. It increases the production of oxytocin, a hormone that has an anxiety-reducing effect. The proper social network increases self-esteem and peer pressure to maintain health (just don’t get pressured into doing the wrong stuff).

Eat Less

There’s a reason why some populations, such as China and Japan, live longer on average. They do not eat till they are stuffed, but rather eat till they are 80% full. Overeating leads to digestive problems as well as an increased caloric intake. And if you don’t exercise, that extra caloric intake leads to an increased weight. So try to limit your portions when eating and don’t eat till you are completely full.

Eat Less Red Meat

Again, China and Japan have longer average lifespans because they limit their intake of red meat. Instead, they mostly eat healthy proteins such as fish and chicken (and not fried either). Red meat has more saturated fat than other proteins, and this could increase cholesterol, blood pressure and cause heart disease as well as cancer. I’m not saying completely remove red meat from your life (for you nihari lovers) but limit red meat to once or twice a week.

Omega-3s

Eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease. Since our bodies do not actually produce omega-3 fatty acids, we need to eat foods that are rich in them. Salmon and walnuts are one of the best sources. In addition, you can take fish oil supplements, which contain omega-3. Just make sure you don’t use a generic brand but opt for a better quality brand, such as GNC. (To know more about essential fatty acids, read Health Benefits of Omega-3-6-9 Fatty Acids)

Drink Coffee

For all you java lovers, keep drinking it. If you don’t drink coffee, start drinking a cup or two a day. Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and a longer life. Coffee can decrease the risk of diabetes, decrease the risk of cancer and it works as an antioxidant. The important thing about coffee is moderation. Don’t drink more than 2 cups a day as the negative risks can occur. The key is moderation as well as not adding sugar and milk/powder. Drink that ol’ cup of joe straight black. Want to know more? Read Do You like Coffee? Here are 10 Reasons to Keep Drinking it!

 

Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the free radicals. These are toxins that can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and spinach are excellent source of antioxidants. To get a better understand of how antioxidants work, read The Real Deal on Antioxidants and if you want further foods that are rich in antioxidants, read Do You Want to Prevent Aging? Natural is the Way to Go!

Watch Less Television

Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world. Instead of sitting on the couch, go outside for a walk in the park or get knowledge by reading. When children grow up watching television constantly, it decreases their attention spans as well as their learning abilities. One study found that after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreased the life expectancy by about 22 minutes.

Own a Pet

Owning a pet leads to decreased stress and a fun outlook on life. It also makes you take responsibility in taking care of something (especially if you don’t have any other dependents relying on you). And, depending on the type of pet, ahem *dogs are the best*, they can also motivate you to be more active. So instead of asking someone else to take care of and walk the dog, do it yourself.

Don’t Smoke

This is a no brainer. Everyone knows the dangers of smoking. Or maybe you don’t. But smoking is injurious to health. It can raise blood pressure, cause heart disease as well as cancers such as oral cancer and lung cancer. If you smoke, don’t completely stop as you might experience withdrawal symptoms. Instead, cut back each day or each week till you can quit completely.

Take Care of Oral Health

Maintaining good oral health will prevent gum disease as well as cavities. Gum disease can lead to an increased risk of cancer and other oral conditions. Make sure you brush twice a day and floss once a day (preferably at night) after you brush. For more information, read 10 Tips for Your Oral Health.

The Takeaway

You don’t need to cryogenically freeze yourself to live longer, but you can take certain steps to lead a healthy lifestyle and increase your chances of living longer. If you follow these guidelines, you will indeed improve your life. Make sure you smile and stay healthy!

Saad Rana

Saad Rana:

As a current dental student at Ziauddin University, Saad takes an interest in health, fitness and nutrition. He writes articles based on research through on-line publications as well as consulting various doctors and nutrition and fitness experts. When he's not writing for Health TV, you can find him studying, exercising or watching some of his favourite TV shows.