1. Diet and Aging – Gain a Nutritional Edge
What we eat is directly apparent in our body; our skin and hair reflect our nutritional state. To learn about the lifestyle of the old and healthy, many researchers look to Okinawa, Japan, which boasts the world’s highest concentration of healthy 100-year-olds. The diet of Japanese people was studied to find out the keys to longevity. Studies have found that Japanese people most rely on grains, vegetables and fruits. Their diet is low in red meat, dairy products and eggs. The lesson here is to choose your fats and carbohydrates wisely. Switch to healthier options such as wheat breads, whole-grain pasta or nuts, instead of refined flour products like white bread, cakes and muffins. Whenever possible, use monosaturated and polysaturated oils, and avoid trans fats completely. Several research studies have also agreed on the fact that a vegetarian diet is generally healthier than one based on animal protein. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are full of fiber and nutrients.
2. Don’t Blame Everything on Your Genes
There is no doubt that your genes contribute a lot in terms of certain age-related diseases. However, studies have found that when it comes to living a healthy life, our genes only contribute roughly 10% to our overall health, while a staggering 90% is all about lifestyle choices. The way each of us chooses to live every day greatly impacts the quality and length of our lives. So when you’re feeling worn down or dealing with aches and pains, don’t simply blame it on heredity; examine your lifestyle.
3. Eat Foods in Their Natural State
Foods in their natural state are full of nutrients. Cooking actually changes the chemical composition of the food, thus affecting the nutrient levels. Steaming and roasting are known to be the best methods of cooking food, because they are better at preserving the nutrients in their natural state. A great way to maintain health is to consume three to five servings of raw veggies and fruits every day. It is also important to eat in moderation. Filling your stomach too much causes gastrointestinal problems, which in turn affects your overall health.
4. Develop Healthy Habits
If you want to live a long, healthy life, make sure you cultivate healthy habits and avoid unhealthy ones. Most important of all is to avoid smoking, which has long been known to contribute to various heart and lung diseases, and shorten your life span. Alcohol is another major culprit in an unhealthy lifestyle. Drink only in moderation to stay away from adverse health conditions.
There is no doubt that, along with diet, exercise is the key to a healthy life. Most of the lifestyle-related disorders, including heart diseases, diabetes and others, originate from a sedentary lifestyle. Studies have found that 15 minutes of exercise per day adds three years to your life. Exercise lowers your vulnerability to heart attacks, heart failure and arrhythmia. Exercise also helps by improving the body’s ability to fight oxidative stress, a chemical by-product of cellular energy production. Oxidative damage of cells increases your vulnerability to various diseases. Many of us cannot spend regular time at a gym, but we can include leisure-time physical activity in our daily routine to stay fit and healthy. Include activities like tennis or swimming in your weekly routines, or just make some time to go play with your kids or pet in the park.
6. Make Good Friends You Can Trust
In today’s high-technology era, we all are connected to each other via social networks, smartphones, etc. Many of us are surrounded by people that we ‘know,’ but few of those we can truly call friends. It’s important to have people with whom we can share our happiness and sorrows. Negative personal relationships add stress, which in turn affects your overall health. The secret to a healthy, happy life is believing and trusting in people, and studies have proved the health benefits of having good friends. Friends provide emotional support, which helps us deal with stress, and feeling loved actually boosts production of the mood-elevating chemicals dopamine and oxytocin, which promote brain growth, combating aging.
7. Live Life to the Fullest
In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, we are often multitasking. Slowing down and enjoying the simpler aspects of life sometimes becomes an afterthought. Once in a while, it is important to relax a bit, and seek pleasure in whatever you are doing. Develop a positive attitude toward seeking the little joys in your life. This helps in strengthening the immune system, and equips the body to fight against diseases. Find something that helps you unwind and relaxes your mind and body. A healthy life is a combination of emotional, spiritual, social and lifestyle factors. No matter what your age, these factors, when they are largely positive, can help you live to a grand old age. Incorporate these guidelines for longevity in your day-to-day routine and live a healthy, happy and long life.