Habits you should drop if you want to live longer

Habits you should drop if you want to live longer


There are a number of things you can resolve to do in order to turn back your biological clock and live longer; whether you’re in your 20s or 30s, all the way to your 60s, 70s, and beyond.


In fact, research has shown it’s never too late to start healthy habits.

But what about the things you might stop doing—in the name of your longevity.



Stop Eating Mainly Processed Foods

One of the major dietary changes that’s taken place in many countries over the last 30 years has been a shift to consuming more processed foods.

Along with processing comes an increase in added sodium, more saturated fat, more sugar, and less fiber.

The result? More cardiovascular disease, hypertension, cancer, and diabetes.

For example, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg (less than 2.4g) of sodium each day—less for many seniors and other people with certain health conditions, like high blood pressure.

Still, in a survey of more than 7,000 Americans, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found people consume an average of 3,300 mg of sodium per day.

Most of the salt comes from restaurant and convenience foods, like baked goods, cured meats and soup.

Do your body a favor, and try to eat “clean” more often, including foods high in fiber (which are linked to greater longevity); and other ingredients you purchase and prepare yourself.

If you’re short on time (and who isn’t?), cook ahead in big batches, or splurge on ready-made salads and other fresh or frozen vegetables; while watching the sodium and sugar contents on the label.



Stop Smoking

If you’re a smoker, you know how hard quitting can be, but here’s some inspiration: The NIH says tobacco use remains the most preventable cause of death. Some estimates suggest smoking can rob you of a decade of life.

Whether you quit cold-turkey or phase out your habit, your body is surprisingly forgiving; blood pressure and circulation improve soon after quitting, and your risk of getting cancer decreases every year thereafter.

Keep in mind that your family members will also benefit from your staying tobacco-free because they’ll no longer be exposed to dangerous second-hand smoke.

You’ll look younger, too.



Stay Active

The benefits of being physically active are numerous: better cardiovascular health, lower risk of cancer and diabetes; improved stress management, and better longevity.

A 2011 study on more than 416,000 men and women published in The Lancet showed that subjects who exercised an average of 15 minutes per day; at a moderate-intensity (e.g. brisk walking), lived an average of three years more, than those who did little or no activity.

Other investigations have shown similar longevity benefits for those who keep moving.

Whether walking, swimming, running or some other activity appeals to you, stay active to ward off disease; keep your bones strong, and your life long!



Habits you should drop if you want to live longer



Manage Your Stress Intake

Even people who are very diligent with diet and exercise may overlook the impact of stress on their health.

The fact is, stress has many physiological effects, including raising your level of cortisol, a stress hormone that can contribute to cardiovascular conditions; dangerous belly fat, depression and poorer resistance to disease.

In a 2010 study on 861 older adults, those with the highest urinary cortisol levels had five times the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease; even if they had no history of heart trouble.

Fortunately, stress relief seems to contribute to longevity, as suggested in a number of studies linking meditation with lower mortality.

Why not try mindfulness meditation, self-hypnosis, or even just smiling more, to manage your daily stress level?

Your heart and your frame of mind will be better off for it.



Stay Social

Another important aspect of a longevity lifestyle is being part of a larger social network, with the support of friends and family.

In fact, in their research on 1,500 Californians followed from childhood into old age; psychologists Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin found that staying connected; and remaining integrated within their community were some of the most significant predictors of greater longevity.

If not all members of your social circle are up to the task, pick your team: a few friends and confidants can help you bear difficult times; and cope with hardship, more easily — factors that will help your immune system keep you healthy.

Chances are, you don’t need to drastically change your daily habits to make improvements in these areas.

Focus on progress, not perfection, and over time, your body will be healthier and behaving like that of a younger person. The result?

More years to your life, and more life to your years.​

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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