While you occasionally hear news reports of people living past 100 on bacon and beer diets, such tales are equivalent to placing your life’s savings on one spin of a Vegas roulette wheel. One fact we know for sure: if you want to enjoy a longer life and—more importantly—a higher quality of life, it is imperative to practice healthy habits.
Longevity is one of the most popular topics of today—but with that comes an excess of information. So, what should you do to improve your longevity? Compiled here is a simple list of easy lifestyle choices that will improve longevity, without the unnecessary fluff. The following lifestyle choices have no adverse side effects but a plethora of yummy, positive ones, like feeling fabulous. Adopt these eight healthy habits to increase your lifespan today.
1. Getting Adequate Sleep
According to a review of studies, those who get less than six hours of shuteye nightly run a 12 percent higher risk of premature death.
Why is sleep so vital to longevity? Many critical mental and physical processes take place while you slumber. Your brain uses REM sleep to process emotions and experiences, and a lack of adequate rest increases symptoms of many mental disorders like anxiety.
Perhaps more troublesome, your body produces disease-fighting cytokines during sleep, and not getting sufficient Zzz’s can lower your immune function.
2. Moving Your Body More
If you want to kick your body’s innate defense system into high gear, get to the treadmill. Research shows that staying fit and active helps bolster your immune system, but the benefits don’t stop with germ-busting.
Exercise also significantly reduces stress. Too much tension increases the production of cortisol. In small amounts, this stress hormone preps your body for battle. Too much makes it react as if it’s under an extended siege. Your appetite increases, leading to weight gain, and your blood pressure remains elevated, upping your risk of stroke or heart attack.
3. Eating More Plants
Plants contain a ton of phytonutrients, and scientists continue to learn more about what these powerhouses can do to benefit human health. Research to date shows that eating a plant-based diet is a cost-effective, low-risk intervention to lower your body mass index, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
However, if you have a family history of stroke or an elevated risk due to a rare disorder, you might also want to include fish in your diet. Researchers in the United Kingdom surveyed 50,000 people over two decades. Compared to meat-eaters, vegetarians had lower rates of heart disease, but stroke risk increased by 20 percent. Analysts did not find this heightened susceptibility among pescatarians.
4. Decreasing Meat Consumption
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), processed meats like ham made the Group 1 carcinogen list along with smoking and asbestos. While this classification does not mean that downing a hoagie is as dangerous as smoking a cigar, it does mean you should cut down on your bologna consumption.
Red meats, such as beef and pork, fall into the category of probable carcinogens. While excess consumption does increase the risk of colon cancer, the association is slightly murkier. Studies do suggest that for every 100 grams you consume daily, your risk increases by 17 percent.
5. Reducing Your Stress Levels
You are a mind-body creature, and your emotional state impacts your physical well-being. If you have excess stress in your life from financial hardship, traumatic events or a combination of factors, practice holistic and healthy reduction techniques like yoga and meditation. Does it sound hokey? Perhaps. But does it help? The answer is a resounding “yes”.
6. Cutting Back on the Sauce
Are you still hiding your nightly bottle of vino under the “red wine is good for cardiovascular health” umbrella? If so, please shed some light on that misconception if you want to increase your lifespan. People with alcohol dependency frequently have elevated blood pressure. Fortunately, you can reverse this effect by kicking the sauce.
If your ticker isn’t a sufficient reason to reduce your drinking, consider your neurotransmitters. Alcohol works on nearly every one of them, from dopamine to glutamate — that’s why a single glass of wine produces relaxation and elation. Unfortunately, your brain starts to crave this response, leading you to up your intake and develop adverse health effects.
According to the APA journal Health Psychology, volunteers might live longer than those with less generous behaviors. While you might think that the difference stems from the improved access to available resources that most philanthropists enjoy, researchers found the effects remain even when making allowances for factors like socioeconomic status.
8. Going Greener
Going green could also lengthen your lifespan. Making the switch to non-toxic cleaners can reduce your exposure to environmental toxins that could shave years off your lifespan. Plus, habits such as walking or biking to the store count as exercise and decrease your carbon footprint.
Know that You Could Increase Your Lifespan Considerably
If you want to increase your lifespan and add quality and value to those extra years, you need to safeguard your physical and mental health. The eight habits above can help you live longer and get the most out of each day.