5 Surprising Things You Can Do to Live Longer

Written by on February 9, 2018 in Health, Longevity & Life Extension with 0 Comments

By Melissa Lobo

We’re far from discovering the secret to immortality, but it’s enough that more and more people are living to a ripe old age. Life expectancy is looking good; at last check in 2015 the average was a wise and wizened 71 years old!

Better still, countries like Japan, South Korea, Italy, France, Israel, and several others have life expectancies of over 80, and researchers have been mining these nations for what makes their citizens lead longer lives.

Here’s what they’ve got so far: Sure, genetics has something to do with it, but that only accounts for 20-30% of your life’s longevity. The remaining 70-80% is entirely up to your choices.

It’s not surprising that proper nutrition and regular exercise—and yes, your government’s health care system, but that’s beyond your control—play a big part in keeping the temple that is your body from succumbing to the wear and tear of age. But apart from the obvious, here are five surprising ways to increase longevity!

1. Greek Out 

The Mediterranean diet is known as one of the best diets for longevity. A study by nurses shows that adherence to the Mediterranean diet results in longer telomeres at the ends of DNA.

Telomeres are buffers that wrap around the end of the strands of your DNA and protect chromosomes. As you age, your telomeres get shorter and DNA becomes more prone to damage, impacting normal cellular function. The Mediterranean diet maintains your telomeres, helping you stay hale and hearty for longer.

This diet is also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

Do as the Greeks do. Apply the traditional cooking style of Mediterranean countries! Meals consist of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Protein is drawn from poultry and fish, and red meat is limited. Food is cooked in olive oil instead of butter, and seasoned with herbs and spices instead of salt. Occasionally, you may wash it all down with a glass of red wine, which is said to be good for the heart in moderation.

And lastly, eat with people you love! Sharing meat and mead with those closest to you can only improve the meal and has its own slew of health benefits.

2. Make a Conscious, Conscientious Effort

We have this notion that easygoing people are less affected by stress, and they, therefore, live longer. But that’s not always true.

According to the Longevity Study, someone who is “prudent, persistent, well-organized” and “somewhat obsessive” is more likely to live longer than someone who is carefree. Being conscientious means you make more responsible decisions about your health, career, relationships, safety, and other aspects of your life. All of that contributes to reducing stress in the long run and increasing longevity.

Be proactive. There’s nothing wrong with trusting that your luck will hold, but thinking positive to the point of denial means you might not anticipate the possibility of things going wrong, and that can leave you unprepared and unable to deal with setbacks. Take little steps to become more conscientious and involved. Use a planner, drive safely, comply with your medications. Your life is in nobody’s hands but yours!

3. Adopt a Dog

Numerous studies show that the presence of a pet has a tremendous positive impact on heart health.

These range from proving that the simple act of petting your dog decreases heart rate and blood pressure, to find that dog owners are significantly more likely to survive one year after a heart attack compared to patients who weren’t dog owners. Heart failure patients were even able to start walking earlier and farther when assisted by therapy dogs.

And indeed, dog owners tend to be more physically active—thanks to the need for regular dog walks—and were also less likely to succumb to stress.

Adopt, don’t shop! If you’re ready to add a new member to your family, we do recommend taking a pet home from an adoption center!

First off, adopting from a rescue organization will be significantly cheaper than buying from a pet store or a breeder. Much more importantly, you’ll be saving a life and giving a home to another living creature who’s looking for a family and love, just like you!

4. Read a Book Every Day

A study of over 3,500 respondents aged 50 and up found that book readers were more likely to live for about two years longer than non-readers.

Books had greater benefit compared to magazines and newspapers. This was because books provided a deeper cognitive engagement, requiring the reader to immerse himself or herself in the material, then later analyze the content and apply it to the real world.

Skills such as vocabulary and critical thinking are honed through reading books, as well as enhanced empathy and social perception, all of which contributed to readers’ survival advantage.

Be a lifelong learner! If you’ve gotten this far in life and you haven’t picked up the habit of reading, it’s not too late to start! Books nowadays are so diverse in reading level, subject, and genre; you’d be hard-pressed not to find one that would interest you. At this point, there’s no need for a high school classics list—read whatever you want to, from high fantasy to erotica to children’s stories. No judgment! What’s important is that you never stop educating yourself.

Which brings us to our last surprising way of increasing longevity…

5. Stay Informed

This may feel like we’re breaking the fourth wall, but the fact that you’re looking at articles like this will help you live longer!

When you take the time to educate yourself about health matters, you become empowered to make related decisions. Understanding how the body works aids you in deciding what sort of food to put in it, what kind of exercise you need to do, and what changes you should make to correct any unhealthy habits you may have now.

And while prevention is always better than cure, staying informed about health conditions you may end up having will facilitate your medical decisions and responses to treatment as well.

Knowledge is power. Keep up to date by reading blogs, magazines, and books about your health. Don’t be afraid to ask your health provider as many questions as you want, and to seek second opinions from legitimate sources.

Maybe the Fountain of Youth is still a myth. But the font of knowledge in the digital age is within your reach, if you’re willing to be conscientious, read, and stay informed about what you can do to increase your longevity. Again, your life is in nobody’s hands but yours—which, really, comes as no surprise.

About the Author

Melissa Lobo is a young and energetic writer, a mom to a sweet little boy, and a fur-mom to two perfect pooches. Before becoming the Associate Content Director for Project Female, she was a journalist specializing in topics related to women in politics and policy affecting women. You can reach here at: mlobo@expertlinked.com.

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