Do you want to live longer, say past 100? Your answer hopefully depends on many factors.
Am I right?
I like to think about living longer as “healthspan optimization”. In other words, many human beings extending life in today’s world compared to even just 20 or 30 years ago. For me, it isn’t enough to extend my life span, I want to live longer healthier.
Longevity is based on many factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and even luck. While there are never any guarantees, there are certain habits and behaviors that can increase your chances of living a long and healthy life.
10 Tips For Living a Longer, Healthier Life
#1 – Cultivate Social Connections
One of the most important factors when it comes to health and longevity is social connectedness. People who are isolated are more likely to develop chronic illnesses and die sooner. Having close relationships with family and friends is essential to both physical and emotional health.
It’s never too late to cultivate friends and connections. There’s evidence that even small and apparently trivial social interactions are conducive to greater well-being. Attending social events, joining groups of like-minded people, and even chatting with people you encounter in your daily life such as cashiers and servers can help.
#2 – Get the Right Amount of Sleep
Getting sufficient rest is one of the cornerstones of good health, fighting chronic diseases, reducing stress, strengthening the immune system, and staving off neurological diseases. Many studies have linked lack of sleep with physical illnesses as well as stress and emotional disorders. One interesting aspect of sleep research is that sleeping too much is apparently just as bad as not enough.
While the exact amount varies from one individual to the next, the ideal for most people seems to be between 7 and 8 hours per night. If you aren’t getting the right amount of rest, it’s worthwhile to make changes in your schedule or cut back on activities that are keeping you up late.
#3 – Calorie Restriction or Fasting
While the quality of your diet is certainly a major factor for health and longevity, the quantity may be relevant as well. Quite a few animal studies suggest that restricting calories can help to prevent chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.
More research on humans needs to be conducted to verify if a low-calorie diet is the best way to live longer. If you want to try this, it’s important to make sure you get sufficient nutrients and focus on eating healthy foods.
Fasting is another practice that may promote longevity. Common in many religious traditions, intermittent fasting is now popular as a way to detoxify the body, boost metabolism, and manage blood sugar.
If you haven’t fasted before, it’s best to start off doing short fasts of no more than one full day. Be sure to drink plenty of water while fasting to avoid dehydration.
#4 – Drink Alcohol in Moderation
The latest research suggests that drinking small to moderate amounts of alcohol can be beneficial and lower the risk of heart disease and mortality in general.
A recent study found that drinking one to two glasses of wine or beer per day is even more beneficial than exercise for promoting longevity in people over 90. Of course, over-indulging in alcohol has many harmful effects so moderation is essential.
#5 – Stay Mentally Active
There are a few good reasons to stay mentally sharp. Exercising your brain can help prevent some common symptoms of old age such as memory loss and dementia. There’s even evidence that it can prolong your life. One study found that people who read consistently tend to live longer.
Other ways to stay mentally strong include doing puzzles, taking classes, learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, and even playing strategy games such as chess, backgammon, bridge, or Trivial Pursuit.
#6 – Move Your Body
Everyone knows that regular exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Walking is one of the easiest and most beneficial ways to increase your daily dose of physical activity. While it’s also good to do more strenuous exercise, including cardio and strength training, walking is something that most people can do every single day.
Brisk walking is best if you want to burn more calories and get a cardio workout. Find excuses to walk instead of taking a car, escalator, or elevator. If it’s hard to find places to walk where you live, consider a treadmill desk.
#7 – Take Care of Your Teeth
There’s mounting evidence connecting oral health with overall health. Gum disease, cavities, and plaque in the mouth increase the chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Brushing and flossing regularly as well as regular visits to the dentist can help you keep your mouth and whole body healthy.
Eating certain foods may also promote healthy teeth and gums. fruits and vegetables such as apples, cucumbers, celery, carrots, and strawberries help to keep your mouth clean. Since these are all good for you anyway, you have nothing to lose by incorporating such foods into your diet.
#8 – Drink Coffee or Tea
Aside from helping you wake up in the morning, both tea and coffee are associated with longevity and preventing serious illnesses. Both are rich in antioxidants and may help to prevent depression, certain cancers, and diabetes. Even better, add turmeric or cocoa to your beverage for added benefits.
There are, however, some caveats. Adding milk and sugar to your beverages increases your caloric intake and may reduce the benefits. Also, drinking too much caffeine can cause anxiety and insomnia.
The ideal depends on your tolerance but is usually in the area of 2 to 4 caffeinated beverages per day. If you’re extremely sensitive to caffeine, drink decaffeinated green tea, which still has many healthy nutrients.
#9 – Consume More Superfoods
There’s no exact definition of a “superfood.” It simply means food that’s extremely nutritious and may have healing properties. There are disagreements on which foods are best, and most likely this varies based on your own particular needs.
The following, however, is a list of highly nutrient-rich foods that can help you stay healthy, energetic, and youthful.
- Nuts – Almonds, walnuts, and cashews are rich in protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients.
- Seeds – Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and flaxseeds.
- Berries – Blueberries, Goji berries, cranberries, strawberries (though not technically a berry!).
- Avocados – A tasty and nutritious vegetable (which, unlike strawberries, is technically a berry) that’s rich in healthy fats.
- Fermented Foods – A wide range of healthy foods are fermented, including kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and yogurt.
Related Read: 5 Nutritional Deficiencies You Should Know
The above are just some examples of foods that can be included in the superfood category. If you incorporate some of these into your diet and reduce the consumption of less healthy processed foods, you’ll be increasing your chances of living a longer and healthier life.
#10 – Stay Healthy Until Technology Advances
This tip isn’t really about how to stay healthy but a point of view that may motivate you to take better care of yourself. Futurists such as Aubrey de Grey believe that the human lifespan will soon increase dramatically.
On the one hand, medical advances may soon find cures for common diseases. At the same time, technology is making it more feasible to replace body parts, including vital organs.
As exciting as these possibilities are, they’re still speculative. However, if you believe that there’s any chance of lifespans soon increasing, this gives you additional motivation to stay as healthy as possible until that point.
Ways to Live Longer & Healthier
Longevity is based on a number of factors, some of which are beyond your control. Nevertheless, you can manage many aspects of your life such as your diet, the amount of exercise you get, and how many hours you sleep.
Whether or not you believe that technological advances will soon extend human life, it makes sense to stay as healthy as possible so you can best enjoy the years you do have left.
There is a lot to learn in the world of longevity. I found so many vocabulary words being thrown my way that I quickly became overwhelmed. So, I started this LIVE glossary of aging & longevity terms page for both of us!