Healthy habits to follow if you want to live a long life

https://www.dialoguenews.com/blog/passchendaele-ceremony-honours-bravery/

WHEN Queen Elizabeth II arrived on the throne in 1952 she only needed to pop 40 birthday cards in the post to Aussies turning 100 years old.

Now it’s 2017 and Her Majesty will be licking and stamping more envelopes than ever before, as more than 4400 Australians have passed the centenary milestone.

In fact, our population is living so long that a new descriptive category has been added to the centenarian “over 100” club. Those people who live up to 110 years and beyond can now call themselves supercentenarians.

So what can we learn from them and what do we have to do to join their team?

About ten years ago I was being driven around Dublin by an Irish taxi driver who was healthy, fit and quick-witted. He was well into his 70s and I asked him to share with me his secret to living a longer, healthy and happy life. His advice was short and to the point: “Never eat an Irish breakfast.”

But good advice doesn’t always come from the elderly.

A French supercentenarian, Jeanne Calment, died in 1997 at the ripe old age of 122. When she was asked about her longevity secrets, she kindly revealed her habit of drinking a daily glass of Port, consuming two pounds of chocolate every week, covering her skin with olive oil, learning how to fence when she was 85 years old, riding her bike until she was 100, and smoking until she was 117.

Some people are born lucky and get to live a long and healthy life despite their bad habits. But for the rest of us, fortunately we have the “New England Centenarian Study”, which commenced in 1995 and continues to be conducted at the Boston University School of Medicine. Their research suggests that approximately 30% of our longevity success is hardwired in our DNA and 70% is due to our lifestyle and environment.

This means that even if we aren’t born with great genes our diet, exercise, occupation and where we live can still influence how many birthdays we celebrate.

Here are some healthy habits I’ve put together to help you in your quest to become a supercentenarian.

1. EAT MOSTLY VEGETABLES AND FISH

Vegetables are dense in vitamins and nutrients, but low in carbohydrates. Eating a variety of vegetables will provide you with most of the nutrition your body needs, but without an excess of carbohydrates that may cause you to put on extra weight.

Vegetables are high in fibre and this can help prevent constipation and haemorrhoids, while also decreasing your chance of developing bowel cancer.

Fish and seafood contain plenty of protein to help build up your muscles, and healthy fats that decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.

2. “HARA HACHI BU”

When I was a child, my parents used to sit me in a special chair they affectionately called “The Torture Seat”. They would force food into my mouth and wouldn’t let me leave the table until everything on my plate was gone — but research shows it’s not healthy to force yourself to eat.

The people living on the island of Okinawa, Japan, have a reputation of having one of the longest living populations in the world. They must be doing something right because 15% of the world’s supercentenarians live in Okinawa.

The people of Okinawa also get beautiful views like this. That has to count for something.

The people of Okinawa also get beautiful views like this. That has to count for something.Source:Supplied

“Hara hachi bu” is a traditional Okinawan saying which means “eat until you are 80% full”. There is a time delay between your stomach filling up and your brain hearing about it. A complex network of nerves and hormones are contained within the stomach walls and they are slow to signal the brain. Our stomachs are actually satisfied about 20 minutes before we are consciously aware of it.

If you tend to eat quickly, you’ll use that 20 minute delay between gut and brain communication to overeat.

Eat food slowly, assess your appetite as your meal progresses, and stop eating before that full feeling arrives.

3. STAY PHYSICALLY ACTIVE

Exercise is great for maintaining a healthy weight. It also decreases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

It’s important to continue staying active because it’s hard to get back into an exercise routine once you stop.

And for those of you who make it to your 100th birthday and beyond, it’s important to maintain your muscle strength and have a good sense of balance — it might just stop you from falling over and breaking a hip.

4. PRIORITISE SLEEP

Sleep is one of the first things we sacrifice as we try to fit more activities into our day, but it’s important to rest your body and recharge your batteries every night.

Adults need approximately 7-9 hours sleep each evening to function at their best potential.

Adequate sleep improves concentration, memory, productivity, energy and mood.

5. BE DETERMINED

Set aside time to make plans for the future. Control your life, career and environment as much as you possibly can.

Write lists, create long term goals, be bold, and when you make your mind up to do something — do it!

6. MANAGE STRESS

Recognise when you’re feeling stressed and take time out.

Try not to stress about little things that don’t matter. Spend your energy concentrating on things in life that do matter.

Managing stress is easier for some people, but can seem nearly impossible for others. If you tend to get stressed out, learn some stress management skills, practise mindfulness, and see a psychologist regularly to help guide you through life’s ups and downs.

7. STAY SOCIAL

Prioritise time with family & friends. When you meet up, make sure it’s quality time together.

Seek out people who think similarly to you. Nurture relationships with others and if you need help, ask for it.

Treat other people as you would like to be treated. Don’t be a dick.

8. WEAR SUNSCREEN

The supercentenarian Okinawans might not need to worry about sunscreen so much, but you do. The Australian sun is harsh.

If you want to live a long life without getting major damage to your skin or developing skin cancer, stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day (11am to 3pm), wear sunscreen, and never use a solarium.

9. DON’T SMOKE

It doesn’t matter if you “roll your own”, “only smoke natural”, use a filter, or bubble it through a bong — breathing any kind of smoke into your lungs will increase your chance of having a heart attack, stroke, blood clots, gangrene, and needing limb amputations. It also increases your chance of emphysema, many different cancers and a premature death.

Avoid smoking cigarettes, cigars, cannabis, hookah or shisha pipes. If you already smoke, then stop smoking.

If you find it hard to give up, then keep trying.

See your doctor and ask for advice on how to quit. There is plenty of support, counselling, patches, gum, e-cigarettes, and tablets that can help decrease your cravings.

Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your body and there’s no time like the present to get started.

10. DRINK MINIMAL AMOUNTS OF ALCOHOL

Alcohol increases your chance of developing cancer, including throat, oesophageal, stomach, bowel and breast cancer.

Alcohol inflames the lining of your oesophagus and stomach. It can eat away at your own tissue, causing ulcers in your oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. Drinking too much alcohol can poison your pancreas and can send you into hospital with severe abdominal and back pain.

Alcohol causes poverty, injury, car accidents, violence, death and collectively causes far more social problems than any other drug or substance available.

The less you drink, the less likely you are to develop these problems, and the longer you’ll live.

11. HAVE SEX TWICE A WEEK

It’ll make you happier and help manage your stress levels.

Also there’s some evidence that regular sex decreases the risk of prostate cancer for older guys.

Researchers say that due to our current trends in longevity, the first person to live to 150 has already been born — it might even be you.

Slip, slop, slap, people!

Slip, slop, slap, people!Source:Getty Images

9. DON’T SMOKE

It doesn’t matter if you “roll your own”, “only smoke natural”, use a filter, or bubble it through a bong — breathing any kind of smoke into your lungs will increase your chance of having a heart attack, stroke, blood clots, gangrene, and needing limb amputations. It also increases your chance of emphysema, many different cancers and a premature death.

Avoid smoking cigarettes, cigars, cannabis, hookah or shisha pipes. If you already smoke, then stop smoking.

If you find it hard to give up, then keep trying.

See your doctor and ask for advice on how to quit. There is plenty of support, counselling, patches, gum, e-cigarettes, and tablets that can help decrease your cravings.

Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your body and there’s no time like the present to get started.

10. DRINK MINIMAL AMOUNTS OF ALCOHOL

Alcohol increases your chance of developing cancer, including throat, oesophageal, stomach, bowel and breast cancer.

Alcohol inflames the lining of your oesophagus and stomach. It can eat away at your own tissue, causing ulcers in your oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. Drinking too much alcohol can poison your pancreas and can send you into hospital with severe abdominal and back pain.

Alcohol causes poverty, injury, car accidents, violence, death and collectively causes far more social problems than any other drug or substance available.

The less you drink, the less likely you are to develop these problems, and the longer you’ll live.

11. HAVE SEX TWICE A WEEK

It’ll make you happier and help manage your stress levels.

Also there’s some evidence that regular sex decreases the risk of prostate cancer for older guys.

Researchers say that due to our current trends in longevity, the first person to live to 150 has already been born — it might even be you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *