By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
May 28, 2018
- How many years do you have left to live?
- 5 healthy habits for a longer and healthier life
- Add 10 or more years to your life expectancy
It’s not uncommon for people to start thinking about their mortality once they reach the age of 50. They often wonder how many years they have left. Is it 20? Maybe 30?
Well, what if you could make it closer to 40 years?
You might be surprised to learn that it might be easier than you think. All it takes is five healthy lifestyle habits. That’s right. There are five simple changes you can make to add a decade or more of healthy years to your life.
Now, these are some pretty powerful changes. That’s because they go to work immediately to help protect – and possibly lengthen – your telomeres.
If you’re not familiar with telomeres, they are segments of DNA at the end of your chromosomes that act as something of a genetic clock. I tend to think of them as a fuse at the end of a bomb. They get “lit” at birth and slowly “burn down” as you age. The shorter they become, the older and unhealthier you become.
And here’s the thing. Longer telomeres brought about via lifestyle changes are associated with a reduced risk of several age-related diseases. This includes cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, chronic pain and stress.
So the idea is to keep your telomeres as long as you can and keep that fuse burning bright well into old age.
5 Healthy Habits for a Longer and Healthier Life
Eat for Your Longevity. Certain foods have a decidedly unhealthy effect on your telomeres. Processed meats, sugary foods, cereals and refined carbohydrates top the list.
When it comes to developing true health, maintaining your telomeres, and extending your life, fresh plant-based foods are your best friend. We’ve seen this over and over again in regions known as Blue Zones, where people often live well into their 100’s.
Fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds are often the mainstays of these cultures. Fish is also an important part of their meals. Meat is rarely eaten. And packaged, processed, sugary foods are almost unheard of.
This is very similar to eating a Mediterranean style diet like the one I recommend to my patients.
Get regular physical activity. The human body wasn’t built to sit around all day in front of our computers, TVs and smartphones. It was built for movement. Still, a lot of folks claim they are “too busy” or “just can’t find the time” for regular exercise.
That’s a shame, because higher levels of moderate to physical activity are associated with better health, longer telomeres and a lengthier lifetime. This relationship is particularly noticeable in older individuals. So get up and get moving!
Maintain a healthy weight. Here in the U.S. obesity is a big problem. And in many cases, it’s a direct result of poor diet and lack of physical activity… the first two items on this list.
Unfortunately, excess weight is associated with shorter telomeres. On the other hand, simply losing those extra pounds can actually increase the length of these genetic time clocks.
Well, guess what? When you adopt a healthy, Mediterranean way of eating and increase your physical activity, you can drop weight and potentially lengthen your telomeres.
Address your stress. Chronic stress is a significant factor when it comes shorter telomere length. In fact, high levels of stress could age your telomeres by 10 extra years.
The best antidote for stress is to pick a daily practice you will enjoy, such as yoga, prayer, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing or any other relaxation technique that appeals to you. It’s also important to make time for yourself. Have a massage, take a bubble bath, read a good book or just sit back and listen to your favorite music.
Don’t smoke. This is just plain old common sense. Your lungs were never meant to process the 7,000 some-odd chemicals found in cigarette smoke. Plus, a pack-a-day habit can reduce telomere length by about 18% during the course of each year.
Add 10 or More Years to Your Life Expectancy
Now here’s the thing. If you don’t adopt any of these low-risk lifestyle changes, you probably have a life expectancy of about 29 years at age 50 if you are a woman, and 25.5 years if you’re a man.
But if you adopt all five of these changes, life expectancy at age 50 can increase to as much as 43 years in women and around 37.5 years for men.
In other words, you can actually increase your life expectancy by 12 to 14 years!
These are some huge gains. So don’t wait to get started. Embrace these choices as soon as possible for a longer, healthier and more active lifetime.
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