Living to be 100 used to be a novelty, so much so that Willard Scott, the Today Show weatherman, would announce your name on air in awe (Al Roker still does). Yet, these days it’s not so uncommon to live that long. We’re all living longer than ever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently pegs 78 years of age as the average life expectancy. That’s not too shabby considering a century ago people lived to be around 39 (due to an influenza outbreak).
But what if we could push it 25 years more?
Worldwide, there are nearly 500,000 people who have made, or surpassed, the 100-mark, and this number is projected to grow to 3.7 million by 2050. Here, Eat This, Not That! Health rounds-up the latest research that’ll not only help you to live to be triple digits, but ensure you’re happy doing so. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
Don’t down a bottle of Jägermeister in hopes of a long life ahead. But a glass of red wine, by all means. “Our research shows that light-to-moderate drinking might have some protective effects against cardiovascular disease,” says Bo Xi, MD, associate professor at the Shandong University School of Public Health in China and the lead author of a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, “while heavy drinking can lead to death. A delicate balance exists between the beneficial and detrimental.”
The Rx: Red wine contains antioxidants, can lower cholesterol, reduces the risk of stroke and increases bone density. Enjoy one to two glasses a day if you wish.
Eating meat less than once a week may increase longevity by 3.6 years, according to a study published in the American Journal of Nutrition. Another 22-year study out of Finland found increased mortality and disease among individuals with higher animal protein intakes.
The Rx: If you must eat meat, opt for leaner proteins (chicken, turkey, lean cuts of beef) and keep off the bacon and sausages since diets heavy in processed meats are linked to higher risk of cancer and heart disease. Otherwise, explore the exciting new world of plant-based nutrition, with a product like Beyond Meat, made with pea protein.
Be mindful of your surroundings, and what you’re breathing in. Everything from Benzene (found in gasoline), smoke, and other toxins can lead to cell degeneration and increase mortality rates, studies show.
The Rx: Don’t miss this essential list of 100 Ways Your Home Could be Making You Sick.
Olive oil, veggies, fruits, nuts, seafood and a moderate amount of wine and cheese—we’ve all heard the Mediterranean diet is the secret to a longer life. In fact, numerous studies have linked the diet to improving brain health and function, lower risk of cancer and other diseases.
The Rx: Now it’s time you tried it. Eat almonds, hummus, wild salmon, garlic, lemon, quinoa, cauliflower, chia seeds and olives frequently. Eat eggs, Skyr, and chicken moderately. And eat red meat rarely. Avoid entirely the packaged, processed, store-bought items that are loaded with additives.
Gene variants found in centenarians have been linked to their longer lives. A healthy lifestyle can help people live into old age, but these genes help maintain basic maintenance and function of the body’s cells in individuals of advanced age, in their 80s and beyond.
The Rx: You can’t outrun genetics but you can learn about yours. Consider taking a DNA test, in which you’ll learn about your proclivity to certain diseases.
Japan is doing something right! It currently holds the title of longest life span, according to the World Health Organization. This may have something to do with the size of their plates. When it comes to diet, the Japanese tend to eat smaller portions—specifically the size of a salad plate—and don’t overstuff themselves. Centenarians studied in Okinawa stop eating when they are 80 percent full. They also tend to live seven years longer than Americans, according to a study, and have fewer cases of heart disease and cancer.
The Rx: Experiment with the 80% rule. Or at the very least, don’t keep eating when you feel full.
Don’t work so hard; your life depends on it. A Finnish study followed male businessman born between 1919 and 1934, and found that those who didn’t sleep enough, were overworked, and didn’t take enough time off (i.e. vacation) were 37 percent more likely to die between the years of 1974 and 2004. By 2015, some of the oldest participants, who always took their vacay, reached 81 to 96 years of age.
The Rx: Our current culture rewards non-stop go-and-do work. But at what cost? If you have vacation days, use them to unplug, and be firm with your boss if you must. He’ll value your work more if you’re alive than dead.
Each hour you binge Netflix, Hulu, HBO—the list goes on—after the age of 25 may cut your life by 22 minutes, according to research out of the University of Queensland, Australia. Those who spent an average of six hours in front of the tube per day were also likely to die five years earlier than those that didn’t watch TV at all.
The Rx: There are other reasons to stop clicking “next episode.” They can be addictive and eat up your time. (Robert De Niro is currently suing an ex-employee because he watched 55 episodes of Friends in a row.) Enjoy your One Day at a Time—one episode at a time.
A study out of the University of Naples found that too little or too much sleep—sleeping less or more than six to eight hours on average—is linked to a 30 percent higher chance of premature death.
The Rx: Seven to eight hours of shuteye is the sweet spot.
Packed with vitamin C and other nutrients, studies have found mustards, also known as Brassicaceae, will keep you around longer, according to researchers.
The Rx: Enojy cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, radishes, watercress, Brussels sprouts and a few spices like horseradish, wasabi and, yes, white, Indian and black mustard.
Hey, none of us are getting out of this alive, but that’s no reason to keep that sour mug. Researchers examined smile intensity among photos of baseball players from the 1950s. Of the players who had died in the years 2006 to 2009, those who were not smiling in those photos lived an average of 72.9 years, while the big smilers lived nearly 80 years. They concluded that there’s a clear link between smiling intensity and longevity.
The Rx: Men, stop telling women to smile. It’s demeaning and implies they’re subservient. However, given the impact on our health (mental and otherwise), we could all stand to turn that frown upside down.
Old dogs can’t learn new tricks but you can. Education, coupled with a healthy weight, leads to a longer life expectancy, revealed a study out of the University of Edinburgh, with almost a year added to your life for each year spent studying beyond school.
The Rx: Pull a Dangerfield and go back to school—even if it’s just an herbalism course, knitting class or continuing ed program.
Avoid certain jobs, some of the deadliest out there, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, if you want to stick around longer. On the flip side, find a job you love. You’ll be happier, longer, which can impact you positively long-term.
The Rx: Truck driver, farmers and construction laborers are among the most dangerous, mainly owing to vehicular accidents.
Country life is serene, but the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging found that living in a major city can also support longer life spans because of stronger health systems, and more access to learning, arts, culture, and other healthy stimulants.
The Rx: Eat This, Not That! Health is based in New York City and our editors…
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