It’s true that the average life expectancy for men and women in the Western world has been steadily rising over the past century, with people in the United States now living an average of roughly 80 years. But the goal of living healthy lives well into our 90’s isn’t just a pipe dream, it’s actually something that a lot of people could achieve, with just a few lifestyle tweaks. We all know that regular exercise, combined with a healthy diet and the avoidance of toxic substances, go a long way in extending an individual’s life. However, presented here are some other, lesser-known habits you can incorporate into your daily routine, which you probably never would have thought would be associated with longevity.
10. Floss Daily
Just in case you needed a reason to floss other than maintaining fresh breath and keeping your dentist happy, now you can add extending your life to the list. Regular flossing helps prevent gum disease and bacterial infections in your mouth, which, according to doctors, can help reduce the risk of heart disease. As bacteria from your mouth travels to your arteries, it leads to plaque buildup along the arterial walls and negatively impacts your heart. Additionally, your body allocates resources from your immune system to fight off the bacteria, which causes the arteries to narrow even further. There are a lot of things you can do to prevent heart disease, but practicing good dental hygiene is probably among the easiest and most effective.
9. Eat Spicy Food
According to a recent study published in The BMJ, people who love spicy food might be eating their way to a longer life. Preliminary studies have found that spicy food and their active components (like capsaicin, the compound found in chili peppers) could help improve metabolic health, lower inflammation, and have a positive overall effect on gut bacteria and weight. Researchers also looked at questionnaire data from roughly 500,000 Chinese adults who participated in the China Kadoorie Biobank study between 2004 and 2008. Each person in the study reported their health status, alcohol consumption and dietary habits, including spicy food consumption. The study found that people who ate spicy food just twice a week had a 10 percent reduced risk of death, when compared to people who ate it less than once a week. Eating spicy, chili-rich foods was also shown to be linked to a lower risk of death from certain ailments, including respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer.
Even if you think you’ve got a terrible voice, you might want to consider taking up singing purely for the associated health benefits. A study by George Washington University and the National Endowment for the Arts found that people who sang in a choir were less depressed, felt physically healthier, and had fewer doctors visits than a control group. Another study from the University of London showed that singing regularly can help increase your lifespan by reducing stress, as well as providing a number of physical benefits, including helping to strengthen the heart, lungs, abdominal, and back muscles. So, the next time you’re in traffic and you see someone singing their heart out to ABBA’s greatest hits, instead of just laughing and pointing, give it a try yourself.
7. Hang Out With Funny People
They say that laughter is the best medicine. But in addition to improving your happiness and having a positive overall effect on your state of mind, laughter is now proving to have the power to extend your lifespan by as much as eight years. Norwegian scientists have found that people who incorporate humor into their everyday lives and laugh more stand a better chance of keeping their blood vessels elastic and reducing heart stress. Just don’t take it too far, as hysterical laughter can have the unfavorable effect of over-stimulating the body’s organs and worsening certain health conditions. According to results from the study, cancer patients were up to 70 times more likely to survive to the end of a seven-year study if humor and laughter played prominently into their daily lives.
6. Eat Lots of Garlic
Garlic has been used as a medical ingredient for centuries, with linguists finding references to garlic in prescriptions written on Sumerian tablets dating back to roughly 2300 BC. Even today, many health experts refer to garlic as one of the best medical plants around due to its unique combination of protective compounds, which can help boost your immune system’s natural defenses. Unfortunately, some people tend to avoid garlic because of its tendency to cause bad breath, but perhaps they could overlook that fact now that garlic has been proven to be beneficial in cancer prevention, promoting heart and respiratory health, and fighting off harmful bacteria. Besides, you can always just pop a few mints afterwards.
5. Get Angry From Time to Time
There are plenty of people with high blood pressure out there who will tell you that bottling up all your rage is a surefire way to build up unwanted stress. In a German study, scientists discovered that people who learn to vent their anger can extend their lives by up to two full years. Being angry all the time, of course, isn’t good for anybody, but anger can be a positive emotion because it can let us know when something is wrong, or when we’re in danger. The trick to venting your anger is finding constructive ways to release it. If you feel your anger bubbling to the surface, don’t lose control and don’t walk away. If you stay in the moment and explore your emotions, you’ll probably find that you have the capacity to confront and deal with the problem, in a way that will hopefully leave you feeling relieved and less aggravated by the situation.
Experts have known for some time now that physical exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer, but it has been less clear exactly how much and what types of exercise are necessary to achieve this risk reduction. However, according to a 2006 study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, of all of the physical activities tested, only housework significantly reduced the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal women getting the disease. Doing household chores was shown to cut breast cancer risk by 30 percent among the pre-menopausal women and 20 percent among the post-menopausal women. The authors of the international study said their results suggested that moderate forms of physical activity, such as housework, may actually be more important in reducing breast cancer risk than less frequent but more intense recreational physical activity.
But guys, don’t even thinking about using this as an excuse to get your girlfriends or wives to clean up after you, unless you enjoy the idea of being single again.
3. Don’t Retire Early
If you’re a career-oriented person you’ve probably been hearing it for years; health practitioners telling you to avoid stress, not work so hard, and possibly consider an early retirement. And while it’s true that these findings might seem a little counter-intuitive, the results of a landmark 90-year study that followed 1,528 Americans has now shown that people who maintained or even increased the pace of their careers in their 40’s and 50’s actually lived longer than those who retired early. Researchers Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin detailed the results of the study in their book The Longevity Project which attempts to conclusively answer the question of who lives the longest, and why. One of the reasons why staying at your job longer helps promote a longer life is because it helps you maintain a social network with the people you work with, and keeping an active social circle has been proven to help preserve cognitive function late in life.
2. Become a Moderate Drinker
For years, one of the most hotly debated issues when it comes to healthy living has been alcohol consumption. Consistent findings have shown that people who abstain from drinking tend to die sooner than those who do. The group Alcoholics Anonymous tries to explain this finding by saying that those non-drinkers who participated in the research were actually former hard-drinkers who had already incurred health problems associated with drinking. However, a paper published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that abstaining from alcohol actually does seem to increase a person’s chances of dying, even when former problem drinkers are excluded from the equation. The really shocking revelation was that the mortality rates of those who abstain from drinking were shown to be even higher than those of heavy drinkers.
In alcohol studies, moderate drinking (defined as one to three drinks a day) is associated with the lowest mortality rates. Moderate alcohol use is believed to improve blood circulation, heart health and sociability, which can be another important health factor, considering people with few family members and friends might be at a higher risk of having a health problem that goes unnoticed.
1. Have a Lot of Sex
A team of researchers conducting a study at Queens University in Belfast found that increased sexual activity has been shown to have the effect of prolonging a person’s life. The study followed approximately 1,000 middle-aged men over the course of 10 years and found that males with a high frequency of orgasms reduced their mortality rate by as much as 50 percent compared to those who were deprived of the pleasure. Although the study looked specifically at the health benefits that men can expect to gain from frequent sexual activity, it also contained evidence that sex promotes physical well-being, mental acuity and stress relief, supporting the notion that women would benefit from more frequent romps in the sheets as well.