Healthy Habits the Key to Living a Longer Life
The older we become, the more we look for ways to reverse the distinguishing signs of aging. An entire industry has formed that sells moisturizers, creams, lotions, supplements, and a host of other products all designed to reverse or slow down the aging process. At McKenzie River Dental, Springfield dentist Dr. John Schilt want patients to know that while trying to stay healthy and young in appearance may seem like trying to find the fountain of youth, research has shown people can take steps to reduce the effects of aging.
As people get older, the end of their chromosomes, referred to as telomeres, start to shrink in size. This has the effect of making people more susceptible to disease. Studies have shown that changes in lifestyle can cause the body to boost production of an enzyme that actually increases the length of telomeres. Additional studies have shown that you can protect the health and length of telomeres through diet and exercise, which suggests that by practicing healthy habits you can slow down aging at the cellular level. Here are several habits research has shown can help you live longer.
Brush & Floss
In recent years, a growing amount of research has shown compelling links exist between an individual’s oral health and his or her overall health. Gum disease and tooth decay can cause inflammation that raises your risk of a variety of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and even some forms of cancer. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day and flossing daily, along with scheduling regular checkups and cleanings with Dr. Schilt, to lower your risk of oral disease and keep the rest of your body just as healthy.
An on-going, 80-year study that examined personal habits and longevity found that individuals who possessed conscientious personalities tended to live longer than those who were not as meticulous. Researchers measured participants for a number of personality traits, including persistence and attention to detail, and found that individuals who possessed conscientious personality traits engaged in more activities that helped to protect their health and made decisions that resulted in stronger relationships and more successful careers.
The relationships you establish with others allows you to share the joys and sorrows of life. A number of studies have found that friendship also offers you another advantage, the ability to live longer. A recent Australian study found that elderly individuals who engage in an active social life were less likely to die during the 10-year study than seniors who maintained few or no social relationships. A second study that examined the data from over a 140 studies found evidence that supported the link between longevity and being social.
Of course studies have also shown that you need to choose your friends carefully, as well. The habits your friends have, especially the bad ones, can quickly become your own. Once such study found that obesity could become socially “contagious,” as a person’s risk of becoming obese increases by 57 percent if they have a friend who’s obese. Another example of a bad habit that gets spread among a social circle is smoking. So when making friends, look for those who share similar lifestyles.
Graciously described as a no-brainer when it comes to adopting healthy lifestyle choices, quitting smoking can make a bigger impact on your life expectancy than you might think. According to the results of a 50-year study conducted in Britain, quitting smoking at 30 could lengthen a person’s lifespan by 10 years. Of course if 30 has already passed you by, you can still gain an additional nine, six, or three years of life by quitting by the ages of 40, 50, or 60, respectively.
Nap Away the Day
Even though Americans suffer from too little sleep on average, the art of the midday nap, or siesta, hasn’t been lost in other parts of the globe. Not only would this make for fewer bleary-eyed mornings, research also suggests that napping could help you live longer. A study involving 24,000 participants found evidence that suggests individuals who regularly engaged in napping were 37 percent less likely to die from heart disease than those who did not nap.
Eat a Mediterranean Diet
A diet high in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, fish, and olive oil, studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet offers a variety of healthy benefits. Research shows that individuals on this type of diet have a much lower risk of developing a metabolic syndrome, such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, or obesity, and a lower risk of developing diabetes or heart disease.
When it comes to the vegetables you eat, try to mix a variety of brightly colored ones into your diet. As a general rule, the brighter the vegetable, the more nutrients it contains.
The evidence clearly leaves no doubt, individuals who exercise live longer lives on average than those who don’t. Countless studies have shown that regular exercise leads to a decrease risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and a number of different types of cancer. Some research even suggests, that staying active can even help you maintain your mental edge as you age. On average, adults need to engage in at least two and a half hours of exercise a week to stay healthy.
Springfield dentist Dr. John Schilt hopes all of his patients live long, healthy lives, so keep these tips in mind and we’ll see you soon at McKenzie River Dental.
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