Humanity has been searching for the fountain of youth throughout its history. While more primitive societies searched for the answers to aging in myth and superstition, today science has begun to make revelatory advances in how people can make their bodies function better and for a longer period of time. The picture science has sketched shows that the secret to aging more slowly doesn’t lay in any one superfood, prescription drug, or miracle diet, but through a combination of healthy habits and lifestyle choices.
As people grow older, the end our chromosomes, referred to as telomeres, become shorter, making us more susceptible to disease. Recent research has shown that certain changes in lifestyle can cause the body to increase production of an enzyme that increases the length of telomeres. The longer and healthier the ends of our chromosomes, the more successful the body becomes at fighting off disease and the signs of aging. This means that adopting a few healthy habits as part of our daily lifestyle could help slow aging at a cellular level.
At McKenzie River Dental, Springfield dentist Dr. John Schilt wants every patient to enjoy the very best oral and physical health possible now and in the future. With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to live a long and healthy life.
A State of Mind
Studies have begun to show that mind over matter is more than just a quaint saying. A recent 80-year study found that one of the best indicators of whether someone would live a long life depended on how conscientious their personality. By measuring attributes such as attention to detail and persistence, researchers found that individuals who were conscientious of their habits were more likely to make smarter health choices, enjoy stronger relationships, and have better careers.
The relationships people maintain with others can directly contribute to how long they live. Researchers in Australia, who conducted a study on the link between social habits and longevity, found that seniors who maintained strong relationships well into their golden years were less likely to die when compared to seniors who lived isolated and lonely lives. This research was confirmed in over 148 additional studies that found a strong link exists between social connections and longevity.
However, studies have also shown that people need to choose their friends carefully, as habits tend to spread in close relationships. For example, numerous studies have found that people are 57 percent more likely to become obese if they have a friend who’s also gaining weight. Smoking is another example of an unhealthy habit that can easily spread among a tight social circle. So while friendships are important to living a longer life, it seems that whom we choose as our friends is an equally important factor.
Living a longer life requires not only making smart decisions and maintaining strong relationships, it also means adopting a healthy lifestyle. While it probably comes as little surprise that giving up smoking, for example, would constitute a healthy lifestyle choice, you might be surprised at how big a difference such a choice can make. A British study that was conducted over a 50-year period found that quitting smoking at the age of 30 could increase your life expectancy by a decade. If 30 has already passed in the rearview mirror don’t worry, quitting at 40, 50, or 60 can increase your life by 9, 6, and 3 years, respectively.
Another aspect of daily life that most people tend to take for granted is how much sleep they get each day. While sleeping seven to eight hours a night is recommended, the demanding schedules many people have simply don’t allow them to get that much sleep on most nights. Even if you can’t lie down for longer periods at night, recent studies have shown that napping can help individuals catch up on missing sleep and live longer. A study that followed over 24,000 participants found that individuals who regularly napped were 37 percent less likely to die from heart disease, which currently ranks as the leading cause of death among adults in the U.S.
Obviously the type of diet a person enjoys can also have a significant impact on their overall health and life expectancy. According to researchers, a Mediterranean diet full of fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil, and whole grains has shown to have an impressive benefits on a person’s overall health. Individuals who adhere to this type of diet have a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Of course how much can have as big an impact as what you eat. Once the home of the world’s longest life expectancy, the people of Okinawa, Japan enjoy a diet high in yellow and green vegetables, and make it a point to eat until they are 80 percent full. While this may sound peculiar, the practice ensures someone never stuffs themselves to the point where they feel overly full. Not only does this help with digestion, it also limits the number of calories a person consumes in a day.
Finally, one of the most important ways you can help prevent disease and protect your health is by maintaining and improving your oral health. A number of recent studies have shown that individuals who suffer from poor oral health have a significantly higher risk of developing a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. To make sure you enjoy the best oral health possible, it’s vital you brush twice a day and floss daily. You also need to schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings with dentist in Springfield Dr. John Schilt to lower your risk of gum disease and tooth decay.