Consume Less Sugar
Not so fun fact: The average American consumes about 2.5 pounds of sugar per week. Yikes! When sugar reacts with amino acids, both in the food we eat and in our bodies, a group of compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are formed. The formation of AGEs is a major contributor to chronic diseases, inflammation, and aging. Sugar also increases insulin and leptin levels, which, in turn, leads to unwanted fat storage and weight gain. Decrease your sugar intake to increase your health and longevity!
Eat Beans and Legumes
Most all beans and legumes are full of antioxidants, fiber, and protein. Some of the most nutritious beans and legumes include chickpeas, lentils, black beans, and pinto beans. Along with being superfoods, beans have anti-aging properties. The antioxidants found in beans help protect organs and tissues by removing damaging oxidizing agents in the body. The powerful anti-aging effects of beans are seen in the world’s Blue Zones. Blue Zones are regions throughout the world where people live healthier and longer lives. People living in Blue Zones consume four times the amount of beans and legumes than the average American!
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
You’ve probably heard this tip before, but it’s very true! Most fruits and vegetables are packed with anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. To name a few, red bell peppers, blueberries, and broccoli are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. Vitamin C aids in the production of collagen, and antioxidants, which give these fruits and veggies their colors, protect the skin from sun damage and pollution.
High fiber intake contributes to successful aging. The Westmead Institute for Medical Research evaluated a study that explored the relationship between carbohydrate nutrition and healthy aging. The study was conducted on 1,600 individuals who were ages 50 and older, and the factors evaluated included carbohydrate intake, fiber intake, glycemic index, glycemic load, and sugar intake. Out of everything evaluated, individuals with the highest fiber intake were the healthiest. Adults who consume at least 30 grams of fiber per day lessen their risks of developing hypertension, diabetes, dementia, and much more.
Maintain a Normal Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for healthy aging. According to the American Medical Association, more than one-third of the United States’ adult population is obese. Obesity, having BMI over 30, increases the chances of developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and other chronic conditions. Losing even small amounts of excess weight can have a positive impact on overall health. Staying at a healthy weight increases energy, contributes to better sleep, and extends lifespan.
Get More Sleep
Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night is probably the closest thing to the fountain of youth! Sleep is important because the body repairs itself while we’re asleep. Prolonged periods of sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, and also increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and a shorter life expectancy. So, how much sleep should the average adult get? A 2002 study by the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center concluded that people who sleep six and a half to seven and a half hours per night live the longest, and those who get more or less sleep don’t live as long. This study slightly contradicts the general recommendation of seven to nine hours, but proves that sleep contributes to longevity. To ensure you’re getting a quality night’s sleep, check out some helpful tips from the National Sleep Foundation.
Long-term health is greatly impacted by our relationships with one another. In fact, satisfying relationships with family and friends are just as powerful as eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep. Research has shown that active social lives contribute to living longer, better physical health, better mental health, and lessening the risk of dementia. According to the American College of Cardiology, people who are happily married have lower rates of cardiovascular disease compared to those who are single, divorced, or widowed. While our social lives are important, it’s also important to remember that the behaviors of others can be “contagious.” If we surround ourselves with negative people who have unhealthy habits, chances are, those unhealthy habits will eventually “infect” us. Spend time with people who encourage you to be a better you!
Regular Health Screenings
Keeping up with preventative care can help find problems before they start. We usually go to the doctor when we’re sick, but it’s important to go to the doctor even if we aren’t sick. If early signs of a disease are present, preventative care will catch them early. Treatment options for chronic conditions are better if symptoms are spotted early on. Don’t forget that preventative care also includes visits to the dentist! Untreated gum disease increases the risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. Be sure to keep up with brushing, flossing, and regular dentist visits.