How to Live Long

Add more years to your life...and more life to your years

All the research indicates that how to live long has a lot more to do with our own behavior than luck or good genes.

The Danish research established that less than 20 percent of how long the average person lives is dictated by genes. In other words, most of how long and how well we live is up to us.

Here are some tips on how to live long.

Eat Super Foods

According to research in the British Medical Journal, a daily handful of dark chocolate and almonds, plus fruits, vegetables, garlic, and even a glass of red wine can increase a womanís life by 5 years (over 6 years for men). Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and other nutrients that can lower your heart disease risk by 76 percent. The age gains also come from a 22 percent drop in breast-cancer risk linked to consuming less fat and fewer calories as you eat more fruit, veggies, and whole grains, the WHI found.

Use your brain - Go whole grain

Fresh, whole-grain bread tastes significantly better than the soft white stuff that comes in a plastic bag. A study at the University of Minnesota showed that eating whole grains in moderation instead of lots of refined grains keeps your blood sugar down, decreases your risk of obesity, and provides you with life-affirming nutrients and fiber. Another advantage - whole grains keep you feeling full longer, so you won't binge on excess carbs.Look for the words whole or unrefined on labels of bread, cereal and other grain products.

Switch to Olive Oil

Olive oil is full of antioxidants and fatty acids that help keep your skin smooth and your arteries clear. According to Jean Carper, author of Food--Your Miracle Medicine, "People who eat olive oil have better cholesterol and blood pressure; have less heart disease, cancer and arthritis; and live longest." The extra-virgin variety, all joking aside, is best. Dip bread into a tablespoon of olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of using butter.

Get In the RED

Tomatoes and other red-colored veggies including watermelon are full of a Carotenoid called Lycopene, which has been found to reduce your risk of prostate cancer by almost half and also to lower your chance of heart disease.Lycopene is more effective when cooked and eaten with a little fat--which means it's okay to put tomato sauce on everything.

Work off that Fat

According to the National Institutes of Health, most of the top 10 causes of death due to disease "are attributable to health risks associated with excess body fat." A recent study at Harvard found that even people at the high end of the "normal" body-fat range are more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and colon cancer.Losing just a few pounds of excess fat will go a long way toward improving your health.Trimming and/or burning off 500 calories a day will shed a pound every week.

Be wise, Donít Super-size

What do you get when you starve mice? Skinny mice that live a long, long time. That's the essence of experiments which have led researchers to declare that eating 10 percent to 25 percent fewer calories than normal might allow human beings to live up to a third longer as well. You don't have to eat less food to have fewer calories--just switch to stuff that fills you up more, such as whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains. 1,500 calories for women and about 1,900 for men -- that's about 30 percent less than what the average American eats.

Order just a salad and an appetizer, or split an entree. If Mom's pushing seconds, tell her the food's so delicious you want to wrap it up to take home with you.

Shake Off the Salt

You need some salt in your diet--especially when you sweat it away during workouts--but many prepared foods contain more sodium than your body could ever use. Excess sodium can raise blood pressure, and even slightly raised pressure increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. What's more, research at Indiana University found that one in four Americans with normal blood pressure is genetically predisposed to "salt sensitivity," which can double the chances of an early death for those who don't watch their intake. By checking labels, you can help ensure you don't go over your daily limit, which is normally 2,000 milligrams.

Taste buds get used to less salt, so after you've cut back you won't even notice the difference. In fact, you'll probably find many prepared foods too salty.

Boycott Trans Fats

Trans-fatty acids are oils that have been specially hardened to add smooth texture to fried foods, margarine, cookies and crackers. They raise virtually all the risk factors of heart disease and may up your chances of cancer as well.Don't eat anything that lists hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient; and say adios to menu items with the words fried, battered or nugget.

Smile or Better yet - Laugh

Happy people live longer... years longer, a Scandinavian study showed. Another study found that being happy from an early age can help ward off disease.Psychologists believe that happiness doesn't depend on how great your life actually is, but on how you look at it.

Make a point of smiling. Join the laughing club in your area. Seeing the bright side of things will actually stimulate your brain to become happier.

Go Ohmmmm

Meditation is the ultimate relaxant, reducing those killer stress-related chemicals in your body better than virtually anything else. It also adds no calories, doesn't use needles, and may help bring about world peace.Meditation can also help you to focus more, improving your performance in all parts of your life.

For 20 minutes a day, sit in a darkened room and concentrate on your breathing. If your mind wanders, just return your attention to your breathing.
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