How well we age is in part already predetermined, like our genes. In fact, recent research suggests that those with family members who are centenarians are 20 times more likely to live past 100 as well. However, longevity does not completely boil down to just nature, but nurture as well. Healthy eating habits and exercise can be the beginning steps to keeping you living happy and healthy into the triple digits.
1. Don’t retire: Evidence shows that in societies where people stop working abruptly, the incidence of obesity and chronic disease skyrockets after retirement,” says Luigi Ferrucci, Director of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Instead, volunteer or find hobbies to keep you active and alert.
2. Floss: Flossing everyday might keep your heart healthy. A 2008 New York University study showed that daily flossing reduces the amount of gum disease which causes bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria entering the bloodstream can result in inflammation in the arteries which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
3. Move: Your body is a well-oiled machine and needs to keep moving to stay strong, even if its only 30 minutes a day. Exercise is the only real fountain of youth that exists, according to Jay Olshansky, a professor of medicine and aging researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
4. Eat fiber: Maintaining stable blood sugar levels throughout the day with fiber and whole grains can keep diabetes at bay.
5. Sleep: Getting at least six hours of sleep a night can add years to your life. Sleep is one of the most important factors that our body uses to regulate and heal cells.
6. Eat food, not vitamins: People who have high levels of certain nutrients like selenium, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, age much better and have a slower rate of cognitive decline than those who do not. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that taking vitamins containing these nutrients provides anti-aging benefits. Avoid eating bland foods with no nutritional content, the more colorful the better.
7. Don’t stress: Find a good way to deal with stress, like yoga, meditation, or exercising. There is a new study coming out that shows centenarians tend not to internalize things or dwell on their troubles, according to MD Thomas Perls.
8. Be an Adventist: Being a seven day Adventist means cherishing your body; no smoking, alcohol abuse or abuse of sweets. Adventists typically consume a vegetarian diet and are heavily invested in their families and communities. Individuals exhibiting these traits have an average life expectancy of 89 years. This is approximately a decade longer than the average American.
9. Keep a routine: Consuming the same diet and participating in the same activities for the majority on one’s life keeps the immune system healthy and strong. To keep your body in equilibrium, try going to bed and waking up at the same time.
10. Connect: Regular social contact can be helpful for avoiding depression. Some psychologists think that one of the biggest benefits older adults get from exercise is the social interaction that comes from walking with a buddy or taking a group exercise class.
11. Be conscientious: The book The Longevity Project, by Howard Friedman, describes a study that followed 1,500 children for eight decades, collecting exhaustive details about their personal histories, health, activities, beliefs, attitudes and families. The children who were prudent and dependable lived the longest because conscientious types are more inclined to follow doctors’ orders, take the right medicines at the right doses and undergo routine checkups. Being prudent, persistent and well organized, according to the study, will help increase your lifespan and healthspan.