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Top 10 Things That May Make You Live Longer

100yearcakeResearchers have found many things that can help inhibit life threatening diseases and conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes. Regular exercise and careful attention to nutrition, such as following a Mediterranean style diet, are known to help. There is also a group of researchers who study people who remain healthy much longer than average to see if they can identify genes, environmental factors and lifestyle habits that may help other people live longer too.

Thomas Perls, of Boston University School of Medicine, studies people aged over 100 and over. He believes that if you haven’t inherited genes for certain fatal diseases, such as Huntingdon’s, “There’s nothing stopping you from living independently well into your 90s.” Perls has identified ten habits that will help you live as long as possible. Here they are:

  1. Don’t retire
    The Chianti region of Italy, which has a high percentage of centenarians, has a different take on leisure time. Luigi Ferrucci, Director of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging says – “Evidence shows that in societies where people stop working abruptly, the incidence of obesity and chronic disease skyrockets after retirement. After people retire from their jobs [in the Chianti region], they spend most of the day working on their little farm, cultivating grapes or vegetables. They’re never really inactive.” So, if you don’t want to continue working, why not try volunteering for a few days a week?
  2. Floss every day
    It may help keep your arteries healthy. A 2008 New York University study showed that daily flossing reduced the amount of gum-disease-causing bacteria in the mouth. It may enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation in the arteries, or lead to thickened arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease. Perls stresses this point – “I really do think people should floss twice a day to get the biggest life expectancy benefits.” We wrote an earlier article about the benefits of brushing your teeth properly.
  3. Move around
    Study after study has documented the benefits of exercise to improve your mood, mental acuity, balance, muscle mass, and bones. You don’t need to become a “gym rat”. Those who see the biggest payoffs are the ones who go from doing nothing to simply walking around the neighborhood or local mall for about 30 minutes a day. Building muscle with resistance training is also ideal, but yoga classes can give you similar strength-training effects if you’re not into weight lifting. You’ll start accruing benefits after your very first workout.
  4. Eat a fiber-rich cereal for breakfast
    Getting a serving of whole-grains, especially in the morning, appears to help older folks maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day. That can reduce the incidence of diabetes, a known accelerator of aging.
  5. Get at least six hours of sleep each night
    Don’t skimp on sleep to add more hours to your day. A bit more sleep will probably add years to your life. People who reach the century mark make good sleep a top priority.
  6. Consume whole foods, not supplements
    Strong evidence suggests that people who have high blood levels of certain nutrients—selenium, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E—age much better and have a slower rate of cognitive decline. However, there’s no evidence that taking pills with these nutrients provides the same antiaging benefits. A single tomato contains more than 200 different carotenoids and 200 different flavonoids in a single tomato. Supplements tend to focus on only a few of them. You should also avoid nutrient-lacking white foods (breads, flour, sugar) and go for colorful fruits and vegetables and dark whole-grain breads and cereals. They have many more nutrients than their counterparts.
  7. Be less neurotic
    “We have a new study coming out that shows that centenarians tend not to internalize things or dwell on their troubles,” says Perls. “They are great at rolling with the punches.” If this inborn trait is hard to overcome, find better ways to manage when you’re stressed: Yoga, exercise, meditation, tai chi, or just deep breathing for a few moments are all good. Dwelling on an issue, eating ice cream or chips in front of the TV, or binge drinking are all very, very bad for you.
  8. Live like a Seventh Day Adventist
    Seventh Day Adventists have an average life expectancy of 89, about a decade longer than the average American. One of the basic tenets of the religion is that it’s important to cherish a body that’s on loan from God. That means no smoking, alcohol abuse, or overindulging in sweets. Seventh Day Adventists typically stick to a vegetarian diet based on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts, and get plenty of exercise. They’re also very focused on family and community.
  9. Be a creature of habit
    Centenarians tend to live by strict routines, eating the same kind of diet, doing the same kinds of activities and going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. As you age it’s harder for your body to bounce back if you miss a few hours of sleep or drink too much alcohol. That may weaken immune defenses, leaving you more susceptible to flu viruses or bacterial infections.
  10. Stay connected
    Having regular social contacts with friends and loved ones is key to avoiding depression, which can lead to premature death, something that’s particularly prevalent in elderly widows and widowers. Some psychologists even think that one of the biggest benefits elderly folks get from exercise is the strong social interactions that come from walking with a buddy or taking a group exercise class. Friends may also alert people to changes in their condition and persuade them to see their doctor. Come on! It’s time to signup for Facebook.

If you prefer exercising at home to going to a gym, check out the physical therapy aids in the Silver Buzz Cafe store. For a better night’s sleep, take a look at the senior comfort items too. If you’re brave enough, check out Dr. Perls’ lifetime risk calculator to see how long you can expect to live.

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