Longevity Secrets: 8 Tips for Longer, Healthier Life
1. Lose the excess weight: If you are overweight, losing weight can protect you from serious illnesses that will take you years to complete. That's because fat cells actually secrete hormones and other substances that cause inflammation. Chronic or excessive inflammation damages the body and causes most chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, liver problems, cancer, dementia, and autoimmune diseases like thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis … conditions that can shorten your life at least 10 years or more.
Belly fat is especially bad for you. So focus on reducing the muffin top or dumping the spare tire. Reducing 5% to 10% of your starting weight is a realistic goal with excellent health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and lowering the risk of diabetes.
Download our free report on How Even Modest Weight Loss Can Help Your Health Here.
2. Eat a healthy diet: A lot of research suggests that eating healthy foods can help extend your life and improve your overall health. Studies show that eating a healthy diet can help you bypass diseases that plague people more as they age, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Eat protein regularly (and try not to always eat meat or chicken; include lots of fish and legumes instead), always choose whole grain sources of carbohydrates, and make an effort to eat more vegetables that are full of antioxidants and fiber, but low in calories.
The people of Okinawa, Japan seem to be right as they are home to the world's largest population of centenarians. The traditional diet of the region is the reason for this. It is high in green and yellow vegetables and low in calories. Also, some Okinawans have taken the habit of only eating 80% of the food on their plates.
3. Exercise: People who do sport live longer, on average, than people who don't. Regular physical activity lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and depression.
It can even help you stay mentally sharp into old age.
Try to aim for about 5 hours of moderate exercise per week (just 25 minutes a day, or two one-hour sessions plus half an hour). But it seems that plenty of exercise will benefit your health and longevity. A recent review found a 22 percent lower risk of early death in those who exercise (despite exercising less than the recommended 150 minutes per week).
4th Prioritize sleep: Getting enough sleep can lower your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and mood disorders. It will also help you recover from illness faster. Sleeping less than five hours a night can increase your chances of dying early. So make sleep a priority (aim for at least seven hours a night if you can, or if it's less, try to nap early in the afternoon).
The link between weight and sleep is much stronger than people realize; The hormones responsible for appetite change when we are tired. For example, leptin (the fullness hormone) decreases when we haven't had enough sleep. The hormone ghrelin, which signals us to eat, increases when we need sleep, so you may feel hungry more often. Cut out caffeine after 2 p.m., use techniques to relieve stress, and limit screen time for about an hour before bed.
Read Michael's top tips for a good night's sleep and our special sleep report here, which you can download for free.
5. Reduce alcohol: Too much alcohol increases belly fat, increases blood pressure, and can cause a host of other health problems. Some of us drink to relax or to numb uncomfortable feelings. If you suspect that you need to look at your relationship with alcohol and that it may not be doing you good, check out our latest blog which will help you investigate just that. If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one or two evenings a week. Or even think about giving up for now. There are great non-alcoholic options on the market now. Read our blog about how to live alcohol-free here.
6. Give up these fags: Smoking contributes to heart disease, osteoporosis, emphysema (and other chronic lung problems), and stroke. This makes breathing significantly more difficult during exercise and can make the activity less enticing. It also seems to compromise memory.
The good news is that people who quit smoking can repair some, if not all, of the damage.
After a smoker quits, the risk of heart disease drops in a few months, and in five years it's equal to someone who has never smoked. A 50 year old UK study shows that stepping down at 30 can give you a whole decade back. Read more here.
7. Be sure: Accidents are the third leading cause in the world and the number one cause for people aged 1 to 24. Often, alcohol can be involved. In fact, I was recently shocked to hear that so many vacationers die when they go on “drinking holidays” in Mallorca. A friend of mine recently returned from there and said by the start of the holiday season (a few weeks later) fifteen people had already died from alcohol accidents (usually from falling off balconies late).
Wearing safety equipment is an easy way to increase the likelihood of a long life (e.g. wearing a reflective vest when walking at night).
Seat belts reduce the chance of death in a car accident by 50%.
Most deaths from bicycle accidents are caused by head injuries. Therefore always wear a helmet.
8th. Coping with stress: The ability to deal with stress is partly genetic and partly learned, so everyone is different. What can be stressful for one person can be pleasant for another person. So take a look at yourself to find out what affects you most.
Stress increases the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies, which ravages our lives (which affects sleep, weight, and our relationships). Read how stress can actually prevent you from losing weight here.
You will never completely avoid stress, but you can learn how to control it. Try exercise, yoga, deep breathing, or meditation. Just a few minutes a day can make a difference.
Read our special report on How Meditation Can Help Relieve Stress AND Help You Lose Weight.
These are our 8 tips for living longer, healthier lives, but we also have a short list of supportive tips to keep in mind as well.
Stay connected and keep a sense of purpose
Other tips for living longer include maintaining social connections (whether through a hobby, group of friends, or through work), as research shows that strong social bonds lead to longer lives.
Maintaining meaning also seems to be important. Doing something that matters to you can make your life longer – it can mean taking care of someone you love (or an older neighbor), a hobby that you love (like art, writing, or Golf), and take a class with like-minded people or find meaning in your job. Japanese researchers found that men with a strong sense of intent over a 13-year period were less likely to die from stroke, heart disease, or other causes than those who didn't.
Last but not least, we of course benefit from regular health check-ups and check-ups in order to identify diseases as quickly as possible (which improves treatment in almost all cases).
For more information, see our free report: The Power of Good Habits