For the benefit of you and your loved ones, there is something you need to know today. More and more information about life expectancy is coming to light. The general idea is that advancements in technology, scientific research, medicine, living standards and other such factors have led to higher life expectancy in developed nations. There is truth to this, but life expectancy is a much more complicated topic.
Within the United States, certain trends in life expectancy are leaving experts worried. According to Voice of America News, life expectancy is decreasing in large parts of the US, and decreasing amongst women more than men. A study done by researchers at the University of Washington where they assessed data from 1997 to 2007 shows that life expectancy is decreasing for women in 737 counties, which is about a quarter of American counties.(11, 10)
According to Good Morning Britain quoting the World Health Organization, “women in Britain have the second lowest life expectancy out of those in 15 European countries” while “British men could expect to live just as long as their European counterparts”. So what can we do to increase our longevity?(12)
Here are 7 ways to increase our chances of living to 100. The even better news is, not only will these tips increase our longevity, but also our quality of health and living. Applying many of these tips will also help us be the best versions of ourselves, and connect with one another more deeply. The tips will help us in a holistic way.
Top 7 Ways to live till 100
According to the Danish Twin Study, how long we will live is in general influenced 90% by our lifestyle and only 10% by our genes(2). This means there are things we can do to help us live longer. Here are 10 ways we can increase the chances of living longer.
Perhaps you’re tired of hearing this one by now, but eating a healthy and balanced diet plays a key role in helping us live healthier for longer. This fact is why so many people are turning towards a Mediterranean diet. So many recipe books featuring these dishes are coming into the market. According to helpguide.org, a proper Mediterranean diet uses mostly healthy produce like fruits, vegetables, seafood, olive oil, healthy grains, and other food that “fights against heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and cognitive decline”(7).
You can see simple ways to get started here. The Mediterranean diet has a lot of fiber, which is important to increase our longevity. One major 2011 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that having a good amount of fiber can help us avoid heart disease, infections, and respiratory problems, as well as decrease the risk of cancer-related deaths in males (6).
How much do we need to make a difference? The dietary recommended guidelines encourage men to have 38 grams per day and for women to have 25 grams per day. By getting the recommended amount, we lower our risk of dying over the next 9 years. (6)
2. Cook Your Own Meals
What else can we do? We can cook more at home! Let’s face it; the healthy food restaurants are very pricey and the fast food restaurants really do our bodies no good (have you seen Super Size Me?). Processed foods we may pick up to cook in our handy microwave aren’t healthful either.
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Cooking at home can be a life-changing, even meditative, experience. There may be no better way to explore the role of simple details in life than through cooking your own meal. Through cooking, we can learn how a slight change in how we mix a recipe or how we put our ingredients in the pan can change the taste of the dish. It’s insane.
But it’s really not just me saying this. According to Huffington Post, “a 2012 study published in Public Health Nutrition found that people who cook at home up to five times a week were 47 percent more likely to still be alive after a decade” (6).
3. Manage Your Weight
According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, extreme obesity can shorten a person’s lifespan by even 14 years! This is because this condition increases a person’s risk for diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, as well as kidney diseases and liver diseases. According to USAToday, diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes were amongst the top 10 leading causes of death in 2012. (3, 1)
Other research shows that people with a larger waist measurement are at a greater risk of dying early. They are also at a greater risk of dying from the health problems we mentioned earlier, like heart disease and cancer. (4,1)
4. Stay Well-Connected
There is great value in being open to healthy and loving long-term relationships.There is also real value in maintaining positive and healthy relationships. A group of researchers studied societies where people lived the longest. In these societies, they noticed a major trait of people being very well-connected. (5)
Having a positive sense of community, and really being there for each other can help us better manage and navigate through life’s challenges. We can have more joy to share as well. The famous quote is true; no man is an island; at least, we aren’t ever meant to be.
5. Know Your Eeki Gaey
This is a new word for me that I’m loving. In his Ted Talk, Dan Buettner mentions a tradition amongst people living in Okinawa, Japan who are known to have “the longest disability-free life expectancy in the world”. In their culture, each person is aware of their “eeki gaey” which according to Dan “roughly translated it means the reason for which you wake up in the morning”. Having a sense of purpose and making positive meaning out of our lives can enhance our longevity. This purpose doesn’t need to be fancy, nor need to make sense to other people; it just needs to be meaningful to you. (5)
6. Stay Active Throughout the Day
According to Dan Buettner, a common trait amongst all four cultures that had long life expectancy was that they made a lot of natural movement. For example, they would do their chores manually, walk to see their loved ones or get to places, as well as have and maintain their gardens. He also mentions how walking is the only proven way to prevent cognitive decline. (5)
7. Have a Spiritual Practice
Another shared trait amongst all these cultures was that they would engage in some relaxing and reassuring activity like praying. As Dan explains, stresses in life can cause inflammation in our bodies (a state linked to many health problems, including cancer) and taking 15 minutes to relax our bodies through a spiritual activity can create an anti-inflammatory state in our bodies instead.(5)
As our understanding and engagement with the world expand, we can learn more and more from our resources and use them to create a fulfilling and meaningful life for ourselves and others. It’s amazing to see that a healthy, long and loving life is possible with some effort and courage on our part. Knowing what you know now, how will you go about improving your life for the better?
1.Copeland, L. (2014, October 9). Life expectancy in the USA hits a record high. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/10/08/us-life-expectancy-hits-record-high/16874039/
2. Herskind, A., McGue, M., Holm, N., Sørensen, T., Harvald, B., & Vaupel, J. (1996). The heritability of human longevity: A population-based study of 2872 Danish twin pairs born 1870-1900. Human genetics., 97(3), 319–23. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8786073
3. NIH study finds extreme obesity may shorten life expectancy up to 14 years. (2015, July 18). Retrieved August 17, 2016, from National Institutes of Health, https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-study-finds-extreme-obesity-may-shorten-life-expectancy-14-years
4. Health. (2014, March 14). Yet another reason to ditch your belly fat. Retrieved August 17, 2016, from Health Magazine, http://news.health.com/2014/03/14/wider-waistline-may-mean-shorter-lifespan-study/
5. TED-Ed (2013, April 17). How to live to be 100+ – Dan Buettner Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ff40YiMmVkU
6. Staff, H. L. (2013, September 23). 100 wonderful ways to live to 100. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/08/08/100-ways-live-to-100_n_3956896.html
7. Helpguide. (2016, May ). Myths, facts, and health benefits of a Mediterranean diet. Retrieved August 12, 2016, from www.helpguide.org, http://www.helpguide.org/articles/diet-weight-loss/mediterranean-diet.htm
8. The world Factbook — central intelligence agency. (2015). Retrieved August 17, 2016, from Central Intelligence Agency, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html
9. TEDx Talks (2011, June 8). TEDxOrangeCoast – Jean de Kervasdoue – another look at life expectancy Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIu9wUSbXzE
10. CBS (2011, June 15). Life expectancy of U.S. Women dropping Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VSk-yOahYE
11. VOA News (2011, June 18). Life expectancy declining in large parts of USRetrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6qhwUd9uw0
12. Good Morning Britain (2015, October 19). Women’s life expectancy in UK is lowest in Europe | good morning Britain Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luUEPN2AW7A
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