Thanks to advanced research and new innovations today, we are more than able to live longer, stronger, healthier lives.
While life expectancy in the US fell by a full year in the first half of 2020, according to a CDC report, much of it was attributed to the pandemic. Before Covid, however, life expectancy in the U.S. was 78.8 years in 2019, a tenth of a year more than in 2018.
As a longevity researcher, I have spent most of my career gathering insights from the world’s leading health professionals, doctors, scientists, and nutritionists from around the world. This is what I tell people when they ask about the non-negotiable rules I live by for longer life:
1. Get regular examinations
Early diagnosis is critical to preventing disease and age-related decay, so it is important to get regular and as comprehensive checkups as possible.
At the very least, I make it a point to have a full annual physical exam that includes complete blood count and metabolic blood chemistry panels, a thyroid panel, and tests to identify potential deficiencies in vitamin D, vitamin B, iron, and magnesium (all of the nutrients that our Body has to fulfill a multitude of vital functions).
2. Let food be your medicine
Poor diet is the leading cause of NCDs worldwide, killing at least 11 million people each year.
Here are some of my dietary rules for a longer life:
- Eat More Plants: To reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, try to eat at least one plant-based meal at a time. I usually eat broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, or zucchini as a side dish for lunch and dinner. When snacking, I choose berries, nuts or fresh vegetables.
- Avoid Processed Foods: Many of the products you can find in grocery stores today are loaded with salt, sugar, saturated fats, and chemical preservatives. A 2019 study of 20,000 men and women ages 21 to 90 found that diets high in processed foods resulted in an 18% increased risk of death from all reasons.
- Drink more water: Most of us drink far too little water for our optimal health. I always have a bottle of water with lemon wedges close at hand wherever I have spent most of my day.
- Add healthy fats: Not all fats are bad. Low density lipids (LDL), including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are considered “good fats” and are essential for a healthy heart, blood flow, and blood pressure.
3. Move (yes, walking counts)
Just 15 to 25 minutes of moderate exercise a day can add up to three years to your life if you’re obese and seven years if you’re in good shape, one study found.
I’m trying not to focus on the specific type of exercise you’re doing. Anything that gets you out of the chair, moves regularly, and breathes harder will help.
That is why the method I practice and recommend most is extremely simple: walking. Walking quickly can improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It can even relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
4. Eat early and less often
Clinical data shows that intermittent fasting – an eating pattern in which you alternate between eating and fasting phases – can improve insulin stability, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, mental alertness, and energy.
To get on the “eat early and eat less” diet, I started with a 16: 8 hour interval fasting. Here you eat all your meals within eight hours – for example between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Remember, however, that a fasting or reduced calorie diet is not for everyone; Always speak to your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet and eating habits.
5. Constantly work on giving up bad habits
One of the biggest toxic habits is excessive drinking. Studies show that high and regular intake can contribute to damage to the liver and pancreas, high blood pressure, and the immune system.
Large amounts of sugar consumption are another bad habit. Sure, in the right dosage, sugars from fruits, vegetables and even grains play an important role in a healthy diet. I eat fruit and treat myself to an ice cream every now and then. But make no mistake: excess sugar in all its forms is poison. To reduce my intake, I avoid processed foods and sugary drinks.
After all, I don’t smoke – but I recommend anyone who does quit as soon as possible. According to the CDC, cigarette smoking is responsible for 480,000 deaths each year in the United States