How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

Leanne is a passionate writer who shares lifestyle tips on Lifehack. Read full profile

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

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When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you. [1]

So, how to live longer? Staying fit mentally and keeping your immune system strong are important.

Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life:

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity. [2] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t. [3] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. [4] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity. [5] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease [6] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease. [7] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists. [8] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease. [9] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life. [10] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure. [11] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity. [12]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease. [13] It may also increase the risk of cancer. [14] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer. [15]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer. [16]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease. [17] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

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A large part of what you’ve heard about nutrition and health is nonsense.

In some cases, you have been intentionally lied to by greedy people trying to sell you something.

In other cases, though, people (including some health professionals) are simply misinformed about how to be healthy.

Guidelines are often crafted based on “policy” instead of science, the ridiculous war on saturated fat being a prime example of that.

Lifestyle Diseases Are Preventable

If you are willing to look past the advice that is constantly given by these misguided people, such as “food doesn’t matter, only calories” then you will discover that some of the most common diseases we face today are preventable.

They are called lifestyle diseases for a reason because our unhealthy lifestyle causes or contributes to them.

In this category falls everything related to the metabolic dysfunction that happens with a western diet and sedentary life. This includes obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, some types of cancer, and many, many others.

If you follow the directions outlined below (for life), chances are that you will avoid these diseases, and possibly even reverse their progression if they have already started developing.

Don’t Smoke, Drink or Do Drugs

First of all, if you’re a smoker, alcoholic or a drug addict, then diet and exercise are the least of your worries.

I know that giving up these addictions is extremely difficult. If you can’t stop on your own, seek professional help or go to rehab. It works.

Eat Healthy

Nutrition can get pretty complicated at times, but eating healthy is actually really simple.

First of all, avoid sugar. As we know, sugar ain’t healthy, so it is usually one of the first items we take off our menu not only to help lose weight but for overall health. Trans fats, industrial oils, and processed foods should also be avoided.

Eat meats, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, and oils. If you can tolerate them, then full-fat dairy and some non-gluten grains are okay as well.

If you are overweight, then the best thing you can do to improve your health is to lose weight. For that, low-carb diets are very effective although there are also other approaches that work well for some people.

The best eating plan for YOU is the one YOU can follow in the long term.

Skipping meals from time to time (intermittent fasting) and eating a bit less (calorie restriction) are methods that are very likely to increase longevity. In fact, these are two of the main tactics employed by immortalists.

If you don’t get much sun, then you might want to consider Vitamin D supplementation. A Vitamin D deficiency is associated with many diseases, and avoiding it may prolong your health. To know if you need this or not, ask your doctor to measure blood levels of 25(OH)D.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important, and if you don’t eat much fish or grass-fed animals then you should consider a fish oil supplement.

Other supplements that may be useful include Magnesium and Vitamin K2. These are often lacking in modern foods.

Exercise Regularly

The importance of exercise can not be overstated. It is one of the foundations of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise makes you feel better and helps prevent a massive range of diseases.

If you have a desk job, then you need to consciously make time for exercise, at least 3 times per week.

There are certain activities that are more efficient than others, but in my opinion just doing something is critical.

If you like going to the gym, go to the gym. If you like walking, walk. If you like swimming, well.. you get the picture.

Instead of focusing on calories, aim to improve your physical fitness. The calories are negligible anyway, and exercise helps you lose weight by other means.

Optimally, you would do both weight training and some type of cardiovascular exercise. Some sports and group activities incorporate this automatically.

It is incredibly important to do something you enjoy!

Sleep Well

In the busy western society, sleep often suffers. We tend to be too busy and distracted to get the sleep that we need.

If you suspect you might have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, which is fairly common, then see a doctor. It is treatable.

Some tips to improve sleep:

  • Don’t eat or drink in the last few hours before bed.
  • Go to sleep and wake up at a similar time each day, including the weekends.
  • Sleep in a dark room, with no lighting.
  • Dampen your lights a few hours before bedtime.
  • Expose yourself to bright lights in the morning, preferably from the sun.
  • Do not ingest caffeine after 2-3PM.
  • Eat healthily, and do regular physical exercise.

Avoid Stress

Like sleep, stress is something that comes with our lifestyles.

Avoiding unnecessary obligations is very important. In other words, simplify your life as much as possible. Be organized, and avoid procrastination.

Meditation can be very effective to relieve stress. If you are a stressed person, then that is something you should definitely look into.

As with other aspects of life, eating healthy and exercising can work wonders for stress.

Take Care of Your Personal Life

Be close to your family and friends. Take good care of your hobbies. Set new goals and achieve them. Have fun.

Having a sense of purpose in life is incredibly important to stay happy and healthy.

Conclusion

If you follow these methods, your chances of living a long and healthy life will be greatly improved.

These are all things you have probably heard of before, but it can help to have them all in one place.

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

by Lara Adler | Mar 24, 2018

Do You Want To Live A Long, Healthy, and Disease Free Life?

Rates of chronic disease are skyrocketing around the planet. Thanks to advances in modern medicine, people are able to live longer lives, but rarely are these long lives disease-free. What good is a long life if we’re not healthy?

Who wants to spend the final years of their life popping pharmaceutical drugs, or stuck in a hospital bed? Not me!

So many of us are obsessed with how we’re aging, but aging is part of life and something we can’t avoid.

But what about aging better?

Like with less (or no) chronic disease…

No hospitals, drugs, pain, or things like dementia?

For most of us this feels a bit like a fantasy.

For many it is a fantasy because they’re dealing with a laundry list of chronic health issues like diabetes and obesity, cancer, heart disease and yup, dementia.

These devastating health issues have become so common, that most people have accepted them as “normal.” (They’re not.)

If given the choice to live longer, I’m pretty sure you’d say “heck yeah!”

A long life that’s also healthy? That’s the good stuff.

People Who Live To 100+ Without Chronic Disease

There are pockets of people around the world who magically have seemed to escape the chronic disease trap and are living to 80, 90, and even 100 years old without health conditions like heart disease, cancer, autoimmune conditions, or other degenerative diseases.

Specifically, people living in what are called “blue zones”. In 2005, journalist Dan Buettner published a cover story in National Geographic called “The Secrets of a Long Life”. In this article he identified five geographic regions in the world where people lived the longest: Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, Icaria, Greece, Nicoya, Costa Rica, and a community in Loma Linda, California.

These folks have clearly figured out something that most of us in the developed world are still trying to figure out.

People living in these areas aren’t working behind computer monitors for 8+ hours a day. They’re not commuting in traffic. They don’t suffer from road rage. They don’t spend hours scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, looking for a distraction from real life.

They’re out living it.

And they’re doing it in nature.

Living A Long, Healthy, Disease-free Life Isn’t Just About Healthy Foods and Avoiding Toxic Chemicals

We all know that avoiding toxic chemicals that can mess with our health is important.

Obviously, I think we can all agree that eating nutritious foods is a good idea if we want to be healthy.

But living a healthy life, and avoiding chronic disease is also about being connected to nature, something many of us are lacking.

According to the EPA, Americans spend 93% of their lives either indoors or in our cars. That means we only spend 7% of our entire lives outside in nature.

When I first read that, I was struck by how sad a statistic that is.

We are not separate from nature, we are nature.

Rachel Carson, noted biologist, author of the groundbreaking book Silent Spring, and creator of the environmental movement wrote:

man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.

I truly believe that nature, and our connection to it, is the ultimate form of detox and the secret to living a long, healthy, and disease-free life.

A Groundbreaking Docu-Series Exploring Human Longevity

*links below are affiliate links. This means if you register for the film and chose to buy access, I will earn a small commission.*

In late 2017 I was invited to be interviewed for a documentary film series that sought to explore exactly why people in these Blue Zones were living such healthy lives.

This incredible 9-part series is releasing to the public on May 7th. Because I’m part of the film and part of the early release, my followers are able to reserve their seat for an early screening, starting April 2nd.

Filmmakers Jason Prall and John Dahlgren traveled to the “Blue Zones” around the world to learn from, observe, and interview dozens of centenarians and other elderly residents who are living long, ultra-healthy, disease-free lives.

Their mission was to discover their magical, ancient secrets and learn how to apply them to our modern lives – so that WE could learn to age better.

They interviewed over 85 of the world’s leading researchers, scientists, doctors, practitioners, healers, and thought-leaders from wide-ranging fields of expertise – including me!! Not just the same faces we normally see in health docu-series, but brilliant researchers that you’ve likely never heard of, but will definitely want to.

What You’ll Learn From This Documentary Film Series

Over the course of this film, you’ll meet some of the most brilliant minds in the health realm. You’ll also meet dozens of nonagenarians (people in their 90’s) and centenarians (people living to 100+ years old).

One of the topics that explore in depth is the strong connection to nature that people living in these areas have. They also explore topics like:

  • Circadian Biology & Sleep
  • Biology of meditation
  • How purpose affects cells
  • Technology & Nature
  • Toxins & Detoxification
  • Immune system health
  • DNA & Epigenetics
  • Health effects of community
  • The Gut Microbiome & more

The Human Longevity Project is like “Planet Earth” but for health. In this stunningly beautiful series you’ll learn:

  • Why people in these areas live long, happy lives
  • The secrets of these extraordinary people
  • The underlying functions that allow them to be free of common diseases
  • How to implement strategies into your own life to improve these functions
  • How to apply certain principles to get rid of debilitating symptoms
  • Why relationships, gratitude and purpose are common among healthy populations
  • How to gain balance, improve relationships and have a sense purpose

If you want to explore the secrets of people who live into their 90’s and beyond without chronic disease, but instead with energy, happiness and a zest for live, I want to invite you to check out this film series!

How to live a long healthy and disease-free lifeNowadays everyone wants to live a long and healthy life. But nowadays, life is full of competition, very few people live a long and healthy life. The biggest reason for this is unbalanced food and drink. But you do not need to panic. By making a small difference in your daily life and lifestyle, you can increase your lifespan and live up to 100 years.

For a prolonged age you will first have to take a vow that you will become part of a healthy lifestyle because without all of this it is difficult to be resolute. Exercising daily, weight loss and dieting help increase your life. Regular observance of all these works can easily survive for 100 years. If not 100 years, then at least the long life can be easily found.

Apart from exercising exercise and eating balanced food, in some villages of Italy, over 90 years of age, they have survived for so many years due to a healthy body.

According to the news published in International Ficognrietrics, in this study, 29 villagers received reactions from Italy’s Silton Province on topics such as migration, traumatic events, and their beliefs. Apart from this, there are many important things that we can bring to our daily routine life and live for 100 years.

Take Fat in moderation

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

Fat is both good and bad. In order to burn fat, regular doses of good fats are also required, which are also called unsaturated fats. These are natural energy capsules that help improve your energy level. If you work day-to-day regularly, good fat increases your level of patience and communicates more energy in your performance.

2.Eat Fresh Foods

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

The primary principle of living a healthy life is fresh food meals. The natural compunds found in fresh food items will reduce the contact of your body, some of which we do not know correctly. And it is best to eat food in raw form ie; in salad form.

3.Eat Less food

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

Eating less food promotes healthy aging because it protects your body cells from harmful effects or deterioration. According to some medical studies, it also reduces the risk of cancer.

4. Take Plenty of Rest

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

Ideally 8 hour sleep is best for a healthy body and it is not fixed. Let you body decide how much to sleep depending on how tired you feel that day. You job is to sleep early so you can wake up early.

5. Drink More Water

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

Most people do not drink enough water due to their busy schedule and habits of not taking enough water. Water is very important to keep your skin hydrated and make it look young.

Mark Stibich, PhD, FIDSA, is a behavior change expert with experience helping individuals make lasting lifestyle improvements.

Shereen Lehman, MS, is a healthcare journalist and fact checker. She has co-authored two books for the popular Dummies Series (as Shereen Jegtvig).

You might already be familiar with Blue Zones: five specific places in the world where people are living considerably longer, healthier and happier lives. In 2004 National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic and some of the world’s top longevity researchers to identify the parts of the world where people are living significantly longer lives.  

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

About Blue Zones

The five Blue Zones are:  

  • The Italian island of Sardinia
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California
  • The Nicoya Peninsula, an isolated part of Costa Rica
  • Ikaria, an isolated Greek island

Through their research, Buettner and his colleagues found that people living in Blue Zones all shared similar lifestyle characteristics. One of these Blue Zones is Okinawa, Japan, the largest of the Okinawa Islands and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.  

What Are Okinawans Doing Right?

This is a question that has been studied since 1976. Over the years, the lifestyles and genetics of more than 800 Okinawan centenarians have been well-documented.   Here are some of the fascinating findings:

  • Data is accurate. Great attention has been paid to validating the claims of Okinawan centenarians. Luckily Japan instituted a strict record-keeping system and census policy in the 1870s, so the lifestyle claims of long-lived Okinawans are able to be verified.
  • They age well. Not only do Okinawans live longer, but they age incredibly well. Many of the centenarians studied were lean, energetic and had low rates of chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer.
  • It’s genetic. Studies show that the genetic makeup of Okinawans helps in preventing inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Siblings of long-lived Okinawans also tend to live long, healthy lives. However, when Okinawans moved to new environments and their lifestyle habits change, they lost their longevity. This indicates that other factors are at play besides genetics.
  • They have less free radicals. The centenarians studied had lower levels of free radicals in their blood.   This is largely due to the fact that Okinawans simply eat fewer calories than the average person due to a cultural practice of eating until you are only 80 percent full, known as Hara Hachi Bu. Fewer calories mean fewer free radicals are created in the digestive process. Fewer free radicals mean better cardiovascular health and less risk of cancer and other chronic illnesses.
  • Their hearts are in great condition.   Those studied had clean, healthy arteries, low cholesterol, and low homocysteine levels. Researchers believe these low, healthy levels may decrease the risk of heart disease in Okinawans by as much as 80 percent. The reasons for these low levels are thought to be linked to a healthy diet, high levels of physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption, nonsmoking and a positive attitude.
  • They’re at a lower risk of developing cancer. Okinawans also have less risk of hormone-dependent cancers, like breast, prostate, ovarian and colon cancers.   Specifically, they have less risk of breast and prostate cancer, and less risk of ovarian and colon cancers. Researchers attribute this risk reduction to eating fewer calories, consuming lots of fruits and vegetables, eating healthy fats, eating plenty of fiber and staying physically active.
  • Their bones are healthy. Okinawans also have less risk of hip fractures than Americans. The bone density for the centenarians decreases at a slower rate than other Japanese people. This may be due to higher calcium intake in the Okinawan diet, more exposure to vitamin D through sunlight and higher levels of physical activity.
  • Women go through natural menopause. Women in Okinawa do not use estrogen replacement therapy but still have few menopause-related complications. It is thought that the phytoestrogens in soy, a common food on Okinawa, as well as high levels of physical activity, help reduce the negative effects of menopause.  
  • They have more sex hormones. Okinawans have more natural DHEA, estrogen, and testosterone than Americans of the same age.   Each of these hormones is thought to indicate hormonal age. High levels of testosterone help maintain muscle mass. Estrogen is thought to protect against osteoporosis and heart disease. DHEA is known to decrease with age, and some researchers use DHEA levels as a marker of how rapidly someone is aging. Diet and continual physical activity are thought to explain why these hormones remain so high in elderly Okinawans.
  • They’re happy. When the personalities of Okinawans were tested, it was found that they were generally stress-free and maintained a positive outlook on life.   They had strong coping skills and a deep sense of spirituality, meaning, and purpose. Positive outlook Okinawans is also thought to explain their reduced risk for dementia.

The Bottom Line

The Okinawans show us that living a healthy lifestyle will not only help us live longer but will also help us live disease-free. Lifestyle changes can add healthy years to your life, making you feel better now and when you are 110. Get started now by learning to change your eating habits, exercise more and relax.

It’s disappointing that we can’t drink from the fabled fountain of youth, but the good news is that most of us are born with a good shot at living a long life: Only about 25 percent of age-associated disease is genetically determined. That means that our environment and lifestyle choices are much stronger predictors of how long we will live. In most cases, those are factors that we can significantly influence longevity—and they alone could be the ticket to dancing circles around your ninetieth birthday.

Little lifestyle tweaks may not feel like much, but they have a powerful payoff. Consider the potential of exercise to up your longevity: A couch potato’s heart and lungs carry about 2 percent less oxygen to the rest of the body a year after age 30, while a same-age person who burns 3,000 calories a week through aerobic exercise can expect to lose only half of one percent of his heart-and-lung capacity each year (at least until age 80 or 90). Since every cell in the body needs oxygen to function and stay healthy, this single difference in lifestyle works out to a potential 50-year difference in life expectancy.

Most of what you can do to live a long and healthy life is common sense—and some of it is just plain fun. Though some suggestions may seem simple, their impact can be tremendous.

Exercise
People who exercise regularly live about five to seven years longer than those who are inactive. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, strengthens your bones. Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity on most days.

Watch Your Weight
Obesity, which is linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other health conditions, reduces life expectancy—but the greater risk of dying early isn’t limited to only those who are technically obese (defined by a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or greater). People with a BMI greater than 25 also have a higher death rate than people whose weight is in a healthy range. (Experts hypothesize that they may also engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and overeating, more often.) Talk to your doctor about what’s best for you—healthy weight ranges vary depending on gender and height.

Don’t Smoke
People who smoke for their entire adult lives, exposing themselves to hundreds of toxic chemicals, die about 10 years earlier than they would if they had never smoked. The good news is that quitting smoking can add most of those years back.

Get Enough Sleep…
Getting a good night’s sleep can help reduce stress, keep your weight in a healthy range and give you energy for the day ahead. Aim for at least seven hours per night, and seek treatment for medical sleep disorders. When you sleep enough, your body repairs and regenerates its tissues and strengthens your immune system.

…and Take Naps
Napping for 30 minutes per day could cut your risk of heart disease by up to 30 percent, according to research from Harvard School of Public Health. Scientists suspect a daily nap reduces stress hormones in the body. (Just don’t regularly rely on these to make up for not clocking enough hours at night.)

Use Caution If You Drink Alcohol
While some studies have shown that moderate consumption of alcohol (one drink per day or less for women, two drinks per day or less for men) may contribute to longevity in some people, beer, wine and spirits certainly have their downsides. Beyond the health risks associated with excessive consumption of alcohol, it ranks among the top five sources of calories for American adults, contributing to weight gain. If you are someone who enjoys a good glass of vino, simply make sure you’re doing so in moderation.

Eat Well
Enjoying a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and seafood is linked with longevity. These foods deliver vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy fats that boost health and help prevent disease.

Manage Stress
Chronic stress sets the stage for many health conditions. Stress probably exerts its adverse effects through triggering an inflammatory reaction of our immune system. Meditation, massage and gentle forms of exercise like yoga, for example, can help reduce stress.

Get Vitamin D
People who have higher vitamin D levels may live up to five years longer, according to a study done by researchers at King’s College in London; they concluded that the part of our chromosomes that shorten with age may not reduce as rapidly as it would if levels were lower. The best source of vitamin D is good, old-fashioned sunshine, so aim to spend 15 minutes outdoors most days. Shiitake mushrooms, fortified cereals and oily fish like salmon and tuna are some good food sources of vitamin D, but getting it from a variety of places is essential, says Mark Liponis, M.D., Canyon Ranch physician (1994 – 2018). You can talk to your doctor about a vitamin D supplement if you think you’re low.

Make Intimacy a Priority
Studies suggest that having sex more frequently may extend your life. Researchers at the University of the West of Scotland at Paisley found that couples that committed to having more sex for two weeks logged lower blood pressure levels during stressful situations, such as public speaking, compared to couples who abstained from sex or touched but didn’t have intercourse. Low blood pressure levels mean your heart isn’t working as hard to pump blood throughout the body, which helps prevent heart disease.

Hold Hands, Cuddle and Hug
Cuddling counts, too. In one study, researchers at Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City trained 18 couples in improving their awareness to their partner’s mood by touching his or her neck, shoulders and hands in caring, but non-sexual, ways. Another 18 couples weren’t given any guidance. Within one week, the couples coached in warm touch had higher levels of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone; in addition, the men in those pairs logged lower levels of amylase, a stress indicator. Lowering your stress levels can help reduce your risk for a variety of health conditions.

Wear a Seat Belt
Seat belts save lives: More than 12,000 people survived car crashes in 2010 alone because they were wearing seat belts.

Floss Your Teeth
Flossing each night can remove the bacteria that might otherwise cause inflammation in your gums. That inflammation activates your body’s inflammatory response, raising your blood pressure (among other things) and increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke. This can also potentially damage brain tissue, increasing your risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Stay Connected
People with strong social networks and relationships (family, friends, clubs and groups) live longer lives than those who are not connected to others. Researchers hypothesize that the unhealthy impact of the stress hormone cortisol is lessened when people have friends and family to lean on.

Don’t Skip Check-Ups
Getting regular physician check-ups can help identify potential problems early. The earlier a condition like diabetes or high blood pressure is diagnosed and treated, the healthier you’ll be.

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

Can you guess what the word “immorbidity” means?

It’s a term that Johnson & Johnson coined to describe a long-lived life—think 100 years and older—without any of the diseases that typically come with age, like Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

If it sounds like the makings of a fantastical sci-fi film, it’s not. Just ask Victor Dzau, M.D., President of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), an organization whose mission it is to improve health for all by advancing science, accelerating health equity and providing evidence-based advice.

Victor Dzau, M.D., President of the National Academy of Medicine

He has big goals for the science of healthy aging in 2020, which is why he’s teamed up with Johnson & Johnson on a three-year collaboration with the NAM to sponsor the new U.S. Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards.

The global competition, which kicks off this month, will award up to 450 Catalyst Awards of $50,000 each to healthcare innovators with promising ideas for healthy aging in every area of medicine, science and technology. In the second phase of the competition, beginning in 2021, some winners will also receive funding and residencies at one of 13 Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS health incubator locations around the world, where they will have access to cutting-edge resources to help bring their innovations to life.

In 2023, one or more Grand Prize winners will be named—and awarded up to $5 million to help make their bold ideas a reality.

So what does the futuristic field of immorbidity hold? We sat down with Dr. Dzau to find out.

What inspired the idea for the Healthy Longevity Catalyst Awards?

At the NAM, one of our mandates is to inspire by creating audacious goals and tackling globally important issues. We want to highlight the fact that as people are living longer, the grand challenge is increasing their healthspans—the length of their lives spent in good health.

We feel that if you can be healthy, it’s an opportunity to not only live a good life, but to continue to contribute to society.

What will the judges look for in a winning entry?

Ideas that have the potential to be breakthroughs. If you think about the world of technology, that’s where it really happens, right?

Some Catalyst Award winners will receive funding and residencies at a Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS location

For example, years ago, people would never have believed what we can do today with smartphones. That’s the kind of outside-the-box thinking we’re looking for.

These awards are not traditional grants. They’re really more innovation awards, which give people seed money to get started with their ideas. So we’re not going to ask for a lot of primary data—instead, we’re going to judge how good the idea is.

We are really looking for people who are willing to take risks. Winning projects will make us say, Whoa, this is a new way of looking at things!

Aging is a continual process, so we’re not just talking about innovations for people over 65—we want to improve physical, mental and social well-being as people age.

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A message from Life co-author, Helen Stephenson

Tortoises are among the record-breakers when it comes to life span. They can often live for 200 years. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to live that long, but, these days, we are all living longer. This article about long life has made me think a lot about old age. How would I feel about living beyond 100? What about you?

How to live a long healthy and disease-free life

How long will a baby born today live? 100 years? 120 years? Scientists are studying genes that could mean long life for us all.

There are already many, many people who have passed the landmark age of 100. In fact, there are now so many healthy, elderly people that there’s a new term for them: the wellderly. These are people over the age of 80 who have no diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes and have never taken medicines for these conditions.

There have been many scientific studies of communities where a healthy old age is typical. These include places like Calabria in southern Italy and the island of Okinawa in Japan.

The small village of Molochio in Calabria has about 2,000 inhabitants. And of these, there are at least eight centenarians. When researchers ask people like this the secret of their long life, the answer is almost always to do with diet and is almost always the same: ‘I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables.’ ‘A little bit, but of everything.’ ‘No smoking, no drinking.’

While in the past scientists have looked at things such as diet and lifestyle for an explanation of long life, these days they are investigating genetics. One such researcher is Eric Topol, who says, ‘There must be genes that explain why these individuals are protected from the aging process.’

The new research into long life looks at groups of people who have a genetic connection. For example, one group of interest lives in Ecuador. In one area of the country there are a number of people with the same genetic condition. It’s called Laron syndrome. The condition means that they don’t grow to more than about one metre, but it also seems to give them protection against cancer and diabetes. As a result, they live longer than other people in their families. Meanwhile, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, there’s another group of long-lived men, Japanese-Americans. They have a similar gene to the Laron syndrome group.

Back in Calabria, scientists are trying to work out exactly how much of the longevity is due to genetics and how much to environment. By checking public records going back to the 19th century, researchers have reconstructed the family trees of 202 nonagenarians and centenarians. They concluded that there were genetic factors involved. And they seemed to benefit the men more than the women – a surprising result because generally in Europe, there are five times more women centenarians than men.

So what really makes people live longer? It seems likely that it is an interaction of genes, the environment and probably a third factor – luck.

Glossary
centenarian (n) – someone who is older than 100 years old
nonagenarian (n) – someone who is between 90 and 100 years old

Survey Shows That Not Smoking, Exercise, Healthy Diet, and Moderate Drinking Cut Risk of Early Death

Aug. 18, 2011 — Healthy living translates to longer life. That’s the conclusion of a new CDC report published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

Using federal health survey data collected from 1988 to 2006, researchers determined that people ages 17 and older who don’t smoke, exercise on a regular basis, eat a healthy diet, and drink moderately were 63% less likely to die at an early age than people who have yet to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Nearly 17,000 people participated in the survey.

Taken individually, each of the four healthy behaviors provides protection. But the greatest benefit occurs when people engage in all four.

Among those who practiced each of the four behaviors, the risk of death from cancer and heart disease was about two-thirds lower, while other causes of death were 57% lower, than those who did not practice any of them.

“If you want to lead a longer life and feel better, you should adopt healthy behaviors — not smoking, getting regular physical activity, eating healthy, and avoiding excessive alcohol use,” CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, says in a news release.

Women whose lifestyles included all four of the studied behaviors did slightly better than men. Their risk of death from all causes was 63% lower, while men’s risk was 62% lower.

CDC Goal: Boost Healthy Habits

Looking at each of the four behaviors individually, people who did not smoke were at the lowest risk of death from cancer. Moderate alcohol consumption — no more than two drinks a day for men, one drink per day for women — was linked most strongly with lower rates of death from heart attacks and strokes.

Among the survey participants, between 40% and 50% already practiced at least one of the health behaviors the researchers studied. The goal, they write, is to boost those numbers significantly.

It’s a task that won’t be easy. While smoking rates have dropped and there’s evidence that more people are exercising, there’s less evidence that Americans are eating better than in years past.

“The challenges in convincing a larger proportion of people in the United States to adopt a healthy lifestyle are daunting,” the researchers conclude. “The estimates of mortality that can be postponed underscore the need for improving the overall level of healthy living in the United States.”

Sources

Ford, E. American Journal of Public Health, published online Aug. 18, 2011.