So you say that longevity doesn’t run in your family? Good news: You can change that. Turns out, your genes only have a 10 percent influence on how long you’ll live, and experts say that the choices you make throughout your life are much more important. At the beginning of the 20th century, the average lifespan was 31 years; today, it’s almost triple that, thanks to the cumulative effect of many, mostly minor, life tweaks that science has determined to have a real effect. The sooner you start applying these tips, the sooner you can start thinking about what you’ll be doing 50 years from now. What are you waiting for? (And while you’re at it, check out these 40 Best Things to Do in Your 40s!)
There are a lot of mean old men, but are there a lot of mean very old men? Probably not, a 2012 study on aging suggests. Researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University found a correlation between optimism and longer lifespans. A positive attitude toward life can be the difference between checking out early and being the last one at the party. For inspiration, try these 25 Ways to Be Happier Now.
It’s well-established that yoga is relaxing, but have you ever thought about the cumulative effects of lower blood pressure, less stress, a healthy weight, less anxiety, and better breathing? Well, you should: It’s a longer life.
Among those 65 and older, one out of five falls causes a serious injury like a broken bone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though you’ve likely heard that sipping milk can help keep your bones strong and healthy, so can grapefruit juice, say Texas A&M University researchers. Studies show that the juice can improve bone density and slow the rate of bone loss. Juice a fresh grapefruit or eat one whole to reap the benefits. And be sure to fill your kitchen with more of the 25 Foods to Keep You Young Forever.
Believe it or not, studies show that sleeping naked can slow the aging process. How? As we sleep, our bodies cool slightly, causing reparative growth hormones to be released. If you’re too warm, you get fewer of those hormones. Plus, being cooler reduces the body’s level of cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to overeating, diabetes and disease-causing inflammation.
Remember the 2012 study that found an optimistic outlook can extend lifespan? It found that a love of laughter can too. The 243 centenarians that researchers studied considered laughter to be important part of life. For a quick pick-you-up, try one of these 10 Drug-Free Ways to Fight Depression.
In their book The Longevity Project, authors Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin wrote that being conscientious was one of the best predictors of a long life. They posited that people who are diligent and responsible may be more likely to adopt healthy behaviors, may be less prone to disease and may find more success in relationships and in the workplace.
Cut down on meat
A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that vegetarians have a 12 percent lower risk of premature death than meat eaters.
According to a study published in the journal Rejuvenation Research, people who practiced intermittent fasting—eating for six days and fasting for one—showed an increase in a longevity-boosting gene called SIRT 3 after 10 weeks. And before you ask: The participants didn’t follow a particularly healthy diet. Both “feast” and “fast” diets included things like Oreos, cake, and bagels with cream cheese.
This one really is a no-brainer. But if you insist on seeing a study that shows smoking cigarettes is like playing Russian Roulette, here you are: Research published in the journal The Lancet followed 1.3 million people between 1996 and 2001. The study showed that giving up cigarettes helped subjects live 10 years longer than if they’d continued smoking.
Don’t hate the thought of getting older
According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, adults who developed positive attitudes about getting older lived more than seven years longer than those who had negative feelings about it. That’s just one of the 40 Things to Do in Your 40s.
Take a stand
Want another reason to join the standing-desk craze? Sitting for less than three hours a day could add two years to your life, according to a theoretical analysis of existing data published in BMJ Open.
Consider becoming an expat
For decades, Japan has had the world’s longest life expectancy. But The Lancet suggests that may soon be outpaced by Spain, Italy, and Australia. But you don’t have to move far away: Men in Canada live a full four years longer, on average, than their American counterparts.
Turn off the TV
According to research from The University of Queensland, Australia, every hour of TV you watch after age 25 cuts your lifespan by about 22 minutes. Researchers also found that people who spent an average of six hours a day watching TV died nearly five years earlier than people who didn’t watch any TV at all.
Move to Hawaii
A 65-year-old Hawaiian will live another 16.2 years, on average. That’s compared to another 10.6 years in Mississippi, the state with the lowest longevity rankings, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, Hawaii is one of our picks for the Best Exotic Vacations in the World.
Stay on top of the news—maybe just not on TV
Although time spent watching the boob tube is associated with shorter lifespans, researchers who followed the news-gathering habits of more than 1,100 Italian adults found that people who had the most exposure to media were also the healthiest eaters. (Healthy eating, of course, is strongly linked with staying above ground longer.)
A study published in BioMed Centra showed that people who eat nuts have a 39 percent lower risk of early death than people who don’t—and walnut eaters, in particular, have a 45 percent lower risk of dying early. Walnuts, for the record, are just one of the 25 Foods to Keep You Young Forever.
Don’t eat takeout
It could cause you to tap out. A study published in Public Health Nutrition in 2012 found that people who cook at home up to five times a week were 47 percent more likely to still be alive 10 years later than those who didn’t.
If you’re going to take advice about how to stay alive, who better to consult than the world’s oldest living dude? Carmelo Flores Laura, a notable centenarian, told he owes his longevity to regular exercise. “I walk a lot, that’s all,” Flores told the Associated Press. Jump-start your way to a fit new you with The World’s Fastest Full-Body Workout.
Change your altitude
A 2011 study from the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that the 20 U.S. counties with the highest life expectancy had an average altitude of 5,967 feet above sea level. That added 1.2 to 3.6 years to a man’s life, lowering the risk of death from heart disease.
According to a Duke University Medical Center study, baby boomers who remain hitched are less likely to die early than their single peers. The findings were based on surveying 4,800 people born in the 1940s.
Marry someone younger
You’re only as old as the person you feel. It’s supposed to be a joke, but there may just be some truth to it. Especially if you listen to 100-year-old Daisy Dunnett, who says she owes her longevity to having a younger husband. “I really think I would be dead if it was not for him,” she says. “If you’re elderly and on your own, it’s easy to give up and not feed yourself properly.”
Don’t go to bed angry
In a study of 1,700 married adults, researchers from Brigham Young University found that that the more arguing there was in the relationship, the worse the adults’ health.
But if you get divorced, stay social
The authors of The Longevity Project found that women who get divorced, often leaving a bad marriage, tend to thrive, as do single and widowed women. Why? “Women were able to rely on other friends, whereas many men depended on their wives for their social networks and so were devastated when they lost these ties,” one of the researchers said.
Brush and floss
You’ve got more than cavities to worry about if you don’t brush and floss as often as your dentist recommends. Poor oral hygiene has been associated with shortened life expectancy. Maintaining a healthy mouth can lower risks for heart disease, dementia and stroke. So invest in a really good electric toothbrush.
Because a cup of joe is high in antioxidants, it can actually lower your risk for diabetes, liver damage, several cancers and depression. For that reason, it’s one of these 20 Amazing Healing Foods!
But don’t go crazy
A long-term study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that those who drank an average of more than four cups of coffee a day were at a 21 percent higher risk for death than those who consumed less that that amount.
According to a Harvard University study published in 2008, people who stay in school for at least 12 years have more years of life ahead than those who don’t complete high school. The research involved analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study. A 2012 report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics went even further, finding that those who earned a bachelor’s degree lived nine years longer than those who only completed high school. To stay whip-smart, try these 13 Tips for a Sharper Brain!
Research from the University of Waterloo showed an association between attractiveness and longevity. Researchers asked people to rate the attractiveness of 17-year-olds from pictures taken of them in the 1920s. Those who scored higher in attractiveness lived longer—to 76, on average—than their less-attractive counterparts (who lived on average to 69). For more ways on looking your best, be sure to check out these 10 Ways to Look 10 Years Younger.
Live in a city
Research shows that urbanites tend to live longer and healthier than their country-mouse counterparts. It’s thought that’s because of higher rates of cigarette use, obesity, and chronic health conditions (such as diabetes and hypertension) among people who live in the hinterlands.
Cope with trauma
A study showed that male Holocaust survivors lived longer than men of the same age group who immigrated to Israel before Nazi rule. The study’s authors write that this counterintuitive finding could be a display of “post-traumatic growth,” leading these men to “greater meaning and satisfaction in their later lives.”
Find your spirituality
In WebMD’s 2008 survey of centenarians, 84 percent of respondents say that staying in touch with one’s spirituality is “very important” for healthy aging. And follow these 25 Life-Changing Lessons from Super-Successful Men!
A regular short nap dramatically cuts the risk of dying from coronary heart disease, especially for working men. A cohort study of nearly 24,000 people over six years found that occasional nappers had a 12 percent lower coronary mortality, while those who napped at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes had a 37 percent lower mortality.
More than five million Americans are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease—a number that’s expected to nearly triple by 2050 if there are no significant medical breakthroughs, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. There’s a genetic basis to Alzheimer’s, and if the disease runs in your family, it’s especially important to make changes to your lifestyle to minimize your risk. Just adding more blueberries to your diet can help. Rich in antioxidants that give them their purple or deep red color, the berries protect cells from damage by changing the way neurons in the brain communicate and reducing the accumulation of protein clumps most frequently seen in Alzheimer’s. In one study, older adults who supplemented with blueberry juice for just 12 weeks scored higher on memory tests than those receiving a placebo. So stock up—and fill your kitchen with these 25 Foods to Keep You Young Forever!
Consider your childhood happy
According to a study by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) and University College London, experiencing a traumatic incident as a child could actually make you more likely to die early.
Restricting calories and never overeating is one reason that the population of Okinawa, Japan, has a large concentration of centenarians, according to Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones: Places on Earth Where More People Live Longer, Healthier Lives. Fill your diet with these 25 Foods Men Over 45 Should Eat!
Cut the sugar
The link between increased sugar and diabetes risk is right up there with “smoking causes lung cancer” on the list of immutable medical truths—despite what soda manufacturers are trying to tell us. But Mayo Clinic researchers have even gone further, saying that added dietary fructose—either as table sugar or the main component of high-fructose corn syrup—may be the number-one cause of diabetes, and cutting sugar alone could slash deaths from the condition.
Get your omega-3s
A Harvard School of Public Health study showed that older people with the highest levels of omega-3s in their blood lived 2.2 years longer (on average) than those with low omega-3 blood levels. You can find plentiful omega-3 fatty acids in fish, as well as some vegetables and seeds. Salmon is only one of 20 Amazing Healing Foods!
Volunteers may live longer than people who don’t give of their time, according to a University of Michigan study. Published in 2013 in the journal Psychology and Aging, it posited that people who give back could be rewarded with lower blood pressure and therefore a longer lifespan.
Think about death
Several studies have shown that when we’re reminded of our own mortality, we’re more likely to make better decisions about our own health, like using sunscreen, smoking less and exercising more. And while you’re at it, adopt these 25 Life-Changing Lessons from Super-Successful Men!
Slow your resting heart rate
Danish researchers discovered that a key predictor of long life in otherwise-healthy middle-aged and elderly men was resting heart rate—regardless of fitness level or other health behaviors.
It may be green and leafy, but spinach is no nutritional wallflower. This noted muscle builder is a rich source of plant-based omega-3s and folate, which help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Bonus: Folate also increases blood flow to the nether regions, helping to protect you against age-related sexual issues. Aim for 1 cup fresh spinach or 1/2 cup cooked per day. It’s only one of these 20 Amazing Healing Foods!
Always take the stairs
Researchers from the University of Geneva calculated that among people with a sedentary lifestyle, simply taking the stairs was enough physical activity to burn body fat and lower blood pressure—enough to cut their risk of an early death by 15 percent.
Go easy on processed meats
A 2013 study linked a diet heavy in processed meats—like sausage and bacon—to a higher risk of dying from cancer and heart disease.
Work out this much
According to an article published in US News & World Report, meeting or exceeding the World Health Organization’s recommendation to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week can add about four years to your life, as compared to never exercising. Fire up your metabolism with The Best Workout to Banish Your Belly … and Boredom!
Make friends at work
Tel Aviv University researchers followed 820 adults for 20 years and found that those with the most social support from coworkers lived the longest. People who kept themselves to themselves during the nine-to-five were 2.4 times more likely to die during the study period.
Smile like you mean it
In a 2010 study, researchers examined smile intensity among a series of photos of baseball players from the 1950s. Of the players who had died during the years 2006 to 2009, those who didn’t smile in their pictures lived an average of 72.9 years, while the biggest smilers lived seven full years longer! Need some inspiration? Check out these 25 Ways to Be Happier Now!
Wash your hands
A 2005 study cited by the World Health Organization estimates that the simple act of hand-washing could save more lives worldwide than any vaccine or other medical intervention.
According to a 2012 analysis of data from the Copenhagen City Heart study, a moderate jogging habit can add between five and six years to your life. But before you lace up for ultramarathon training, consider research from the University of South Carolina. It found that people who run more than 20 miles a week, faster than 7 miles an hour, or more than five times a week seem to lose the longevity boost.
A 2011 study found that people who ate cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, tend to live longer lives. Researchers suggest this may be tied to the veggies’ vitamin C and nutrient count. For more life-lengthening foods, learn how to Stay Young and Lean With These 20 Anti-Aging Superfoods.
Find a reason to live
A study of 1,400 senior citizens found that those who believed they were living for a reason had a 30 percent lower rate of cognitive decline. The belief may protect your brain from the eventual effects of Alzheimer’s disease, according to researchers at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.
Better access to education, access to health care, a lower risk of violent crime—having more money in the bank means a longer life. To get there, adopt these 25 Life-Changing Lessons from Super-Successful Men.
Get a pet
Research shows that both cat and dog owners tend to live longer than their petless peers. One study found that owning a cat could cut your risk for heart attack by nearly one-third! Did you know that certain dog breeds can improve your mental health? Learn about that and more with the 15 Amazing Healthy Benefits of Adopting a Pet.
Get enough sleep…
According to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research, getting less than six hours of sleep a night comes with a 10 percent increase in risk of death. Studies have pinpointed seven to eight hours of shuteye as optimal.
…but not too much
But long sleepers could face a 30 percent higher risk of premature death, according to a study from University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and the Federico II University Medical School in Italy.
Have more sex
A 2010 study of 1,165 middle-aged men showed that having sex once a month or less is linked with a 45 percent higher risk of heart disease than having sex two to three times a week.
Go to church
According to a review of research published in 2006 in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, attending weekly religious services can add 1.8 to 3.1 years to your life expectancy.
If you’re going to church, join the choir
Researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden believe that singing in a choir has the same health benefits as yoga. They found that the heartbeats of choir members begin to synchronize, resulting in a calming effect on the mind and body.
Make healthy changes
A recent study in the journal Lancet Oncology demonstrated that making healthy life changes is associated with longer telomeres, the “caps” at the ends of chromosomes. Think of them like the little plastic caps on shoelaces that prevent them fraying. Shorter telomeres have been linked in past research to cell aging, as well as higher risks of age-related diseases. Adjusting your daily habits so that you eat whole foods, exercise, meditate, and lean on your support system may add years to your life.
Hope for a daughter
According to a 2006 study of a rural Polish population, having daughters may increase the lifespan of fathers. For every daughter born, the dads studied lived about 74 weeks longer.
Take more vacation
An analysis of the famed Framingham Heart Study showed that the more frequently men took vacations, the longer they lived. Need more time off for vacation? Check out The Secret Trick That Will Lead to More Vacation Days At Work.
Have a couple of kids
Becoming a parent can increase longevity by decreasing your risk of conditions such as cancer and heart disease. (But according to the study, which was published in the journal Science & Medicine in 2010, this health benefit didn’t increase beyond two children. (Whew?)
A 2011 study published in the journal Age showed that the chances of living longer increased 20 percent from eating a Mediterranean diet, typified by being rich in healthy fats (like olive oil), fish, and produce. Fill your kitchen with these 20 Amazing Healing Foods.
Do vigorous workouts
A 2011 study of Copenhagen cyclists found that men who pedaled the fastest lived about five years longer than men who pedaled slowest. The take-home? Physical activity is good, but vigorous activity is even better.
Research from Queen’s University Belfast shows that people (in particular, older people) can dance their way towards improved health and happiness because of the activity’s social, mental, and physical benefits.
A study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2013 showed that French cyclists in the Tour de France generally live longer than their non-cycling peers. The study included data from 786 French cyclists who participated in the race at least once between 1947 and 2012. Before you set out, try The World’s Single Best Stretch.
The Longevity Project found that most men who made it to extreme old age had successful, satisfying careers and continued to work—at least on a part-time basis—into their 70s.
Eat more fiber
A study published in 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that people who met dietary guidelines on fiber—25 grams per day for women, and 38 grams pesodar day for men—had a lower risk of dying over a nine-year period.
Don’t go crazy with vitamin supplements
Although many health professionals advocate taking vitamins to help prevent deficiencies in vital nutrients, a Copenhagen University review of 815 clinical trials found that taking supplements had a detrimental effect on lifespan. For optimum, nutrition you ought to…
Drink Greek coffee
Residents of the Greek island of Ikaria tend to live to age 90 or more. Researchers from the University of Athens Medical School conducted a study on 71 men and 71 women who lived on Ikaria and found that those who drank boiled Greek coffee on a daily basis had better endothelial functioning than those who drank other kinds of coffee.
Swim more often
A study in the International Journal of Aquatic Education and Research showed that swimming cut death risk for men by 50 percent—compared with running, walking, or being sedentary.
Keep your mind active
Another secret of the long-lived people of Okinawa, Japan, is to keep your brain actively engaged with games and intellectual stimulation. A 2008 WebMD survey found that 89 percent of centenarians keep their minds active. Try these 13 Tips for a Sharper Brain.
Live in a blue state
The 13 U.S. states with the lowest life expectancy were also reliably Republican-leaning in presidential elections.
Recent research on U.S. military veterans showed that those who exhibited the most creativity reduced their mortality risk by 12 percent. Get inspired by these 25 Lessons from The World’s Most Creative Men.
Frequent social engagements may add as much to your lifespan as cutting cholesterol or lowering blood pressure. That’s the finding of Thomas Glass, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who tracked the activities of nearly 3,000 people aged 65 and up over 13 years.
Explore new territory
Research published in Science in 2013 suggests that expanding your horizons and changing up your routine could help expand your brain, and expanding your brain might help prevent life-shortening dementia.
A hardworking personality trait extends life by an average of two to three years, according to research cited in The Longevity Project.
New research has found that the reason melanoma rates are so low in regions like the Mediterranean—where going topless on the beach is all part of the summertime fun—has to do with the Mediterranean diet. Foods high in antioxidants, particularly deeply colored fruits and vegetables, can help fight the oxidizing effect of UV rays. One study in the British Journal of Dermatology found participants who ate five tablespoons of tomato paste (a highly concentrated form of fresh tomatoes) daily showed 33 percent more protection against sunburn than a control group.
Studies show that meditation helps improve many different types of conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes, and high blood pressure, as well as improving concentration, memory, and reasoning skills.
Don’t work for a jerk
According to Gary Namie, PhD and founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute, more and more research indicates that being bullied and unduly stressed at work can lead to serious health consequences. Seek support from your family and counsel from a doctor as to when it’s time to say when. “Nobody deserves cardiovascular disease for a damn paycheck,” says Namie. “No matter how big the paycheck is.” Save your sanity with these 10 Ways to Deal With a Difficult Boss.
Only eat when you’re hungry
Dietitian Zoe Nicholson, co-founder of the moderation eating movement, advocates “intuitive eating,” or eschewing regularly scheduled meals and mindless snacking to only eat when we’re hungry. “When we eat intuitively, our bodies crave a variety of nourishing food, we are much less likely to overeat or comfort eat and it becomes easier to maintain a stable healthier weight,” she says.
Drink in moderation
Ever noticed that more than a few centenarians interviewed on the news attribute their long life to drinking good whiskey? It’s not just cute old-folks’ chatter: Research shows that moderate drinking can help prevent heart disease, dementia and lengthen life. In 2010’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Department of Health and Human Services said there was “strong evidence” that moderate drinking prevented heart disease, and “moderate evidence” that it helped prevent dementia. What’s moderation? In a meta-analysis of 34 studies that followed subjects for years, the American Medical Association said that “1 to 2 drinks per day for women and 2 to 4 drinks per day for men are inversely associated with total mortality.” But keep it moderate: binge drinking and alcoholism have been shown to shorten lifespan (by up to a decade for the latter). Experiment responsibly with these 20 Cocktails Everyone Should Know How to Make.
Guzzle green tea
Okinawa, an island off mainland Japan, is home to more centenarians than anywhere else in the world. In fact, about 7 out of every 10,000 citizens live to blow out 100 birthday candles! What do they all have in common? They drink green tea every day—and it’s likely one of the reasons they live so long, say experts. Researchers from the Norwich BioScience Institutes recently discovered that the polyphenols, a type of micronutrient in green tea, blocks something called VEGF, a signaling molecule in the body that triggers plaque buildup in the arteries that can lead to heart attacks, stroke and vascular disease. The life-extending brew may also ward off wrinkles by fighting inflammation and improving the skin’s elasticity, keeping you young both inside and out.
Blast belly fat
Visceral fat—the blubber that wraps itself around your internal organs, a.k.a. belly fat, creating that telltale beer paunch—makes you twice as likely to die of any cause as actually being obese. Why? It spews toxins and causes diabetes, heart disease, liver failure and all sorts of other problems. The good news: You can target belly fat by eating delicious foods that actually turn off the genes responsible for its production.
Prevent colon cancer
Colon cancer is the rare cancer that’s almost completely preventable—that is, when precancerous polyps are removed from the colon before they turn malignant. That’s why preventative exams are essential. Current guidelines call for men over 50 to have the procedure every 10 years, along with a flexible sigmoidoscopy and virtual colonoscopy every five years. As it stands now, colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death among men in the U.S. So book that doctor’s appointment—and while you’re at it, try these 10 Home Health Tests That Can Save Your Life.
While optimism is a quality that’ll vastly improve your quality of life, being pragmatic—even a bit negative at times—can lengthen your life. According to Martin, one of the authors of The Longevity Project, blind optimism can make you less able to deal with life’s setbacks and overcome them.
Various cultures claim yogurt as their own creation, but the 2,000-year-old food’s health benefits are not disputed: Fermentation spawns hundreds of millions of probiotic organisms that serve as reinforcements to the battalions of beneficial bacteria in your body. That helps boost your immune system and provides protection against cancer. Not all yogurts are probiotic, though, so make sure the label says “live and active cultures.” Aim for 1 cup daily.
Drink apple juice
Turn to apples to protect your squash. In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers found that drinking two glasses of AJ per day is associated with the breakup of plaques in the brain that can lead to dementia.
Get preventative care
After age 40, regular checkups and testing is crucial for preventing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and a host of other ills from taking you out before your time. A 2007 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health followed 2,000 30- to 49-year olds over a period of 15 years. The researchers found that those who sought regularly preventative care were experiencing a “significantly greater” lifespan than those who didn’t. The National Institute of Health’s current guidelines for regular checkups and testing are here.
Not only will it prevent you from resembling Jack Palance or a baseball glove, avoiding sunburn lowers your chances of developing skin cancers like melanoma, which can be one of the hardest malignancies to treat. You can lower your risk by covering up or slapping on sunscreen to prevent a burn. Just don’t go overboard and refuse to leave the house unless you’re in full goth attire: Sun exposure is crucial for your natural production of Vitamin D, which is associated with a lower risk of several cancers. As with everything, moderation is key.
Go to bed one hour earlier
Researchers from Harvard Business School found that people who normally slept for seven hours or less a night and went to bed only one hour earlier experienced a measurable drop in blood pressure. That’ll lowers your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Trace your family tree
Use a service such as 23andme.com that will analyze your genetic info and tell you what diseases you’re genetically predisposed to.
Dump soda—even diet
Research says it may shorten your life. Scientists at the University of California at San Francisco followed 5,300 healthy people who regularly drank sodas, and found that they experienced advanced cell aging by up to four years—potentially trimming their lifespan by that much. And even diet soda is bad news: The high levels of phosphorus in dark sodas weakens bones, and a study published in FASEB Journal found that mice with high blood levels of phosphorus had a nearly 25 percent shorter lifespan. For a healthy energy boost, go for The Best Way to Get Energy Without Coffee or Soda.
Fatty fish, like tuna, wild salmon, mackerel, and sardines, contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients that have been proven to lower overall mortality risk by up to 27 percent and decrease the odds of dying from heart disease by about 35 percent. They also offer many anti-aging benefits. Eating a few servings of fatty fish each week have been shown to help guard against Alzheimer’s disease and help reduce joint pain and stiffness by suppressing the production of enzymes that erode cartilage.
Get your vitamin K
Thanks for their high vitamin K content, noshing on leafy vegetables like kale, collards, and mustard greens can help ward slow cognitive decline, according to new research that reviewed the diets of nearly 1,000 participants. In fact, the researchers discovered that people who ate one to two servings of the greens daily had the cognitive ability of a person 11 years younger than those who consumed none.
Researchers at the Georgia Centenarian Study interviewed 244 people age 100 or older over an eight-year period. Their results, published in the journal Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research, found that adapting to and coping with stressful situations was crucial for successful aging. Those who meditated on stressful situations were healthier than those who made quick emotional reactions.
Mind your cholesterol
Researchers in Sweden followed a group of men for 50 years, and their research, published in 2015, indicated that the men who lived to be 100 had three things in common: They didn’t smoke, they drank no more than four cups of coffee a day, and they had healthy cholesterol levels, which greatly reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Feel in control and worthwhile
According to University College London study published in the journal The Lancet, researchers found that people who felt the most control over their life and that it was worthwhile had a 30 percent lower chance of dying than those who felt the least.
Eat sweet potatoes and turmeric
Okinawa, Japan, has a higher percentage of centenarians than any place on earth—five times as many as the United States. About 60 percent of their diet involves sweet potatoes, which are high in flavonoids, fiber and good carbs. Also a dietary staple: Turmeric, a spice whose antioxidants help prevent cancer and heart disease. Also, here’s How Turmeric Can Give You A Whiter Smile Instantly.
Know that it’s never too late
The authors of The Longevity Project emphasize that you can make positive changes, even small ones, and see a measurable effect. Just don’t be intimidated and get down to it. “Thinking of making changes as taking ‘steps’ is a great strategy,” the authors advise. “You can’t change major things about yourself overnight. But making small changes, and repeating those steps, can eventually create that path to longer life.”
Ultimately, the Longevity Project researchers isolated one trait common to centenarians that’s the strongest predictor of survival: How they feel about their health, well-being and support systems. If you don’t feel good about where you are today, why? Make a plan—however small—using this list as a starting point, and begin changing that today!
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