27 May, 2013

quick tips to a longer life

The American comedian, George Burns, who lived to be 100 years old, was asked about the secrets of his vigor, prosperity, and longevity. He answered in one word, “Attitude. If you have a problem getting a twenty-two year-old girl, get a twenty-four-year-old," he wrote when he was eighty-six years young. [1] That serves as a right introduction to a subject toiled over by numerous writers, and explored by scientists and doctors all over the world. The truth is that nobody knows how to combat ageing, and in a greater sense how to achieve longevity. It could be a simple genetic malfunction, or a multitude of factors and life parameters, that you need to get right and in the right mix, to achieve a long and good life.

No matter how daunting the task may seem to us, or however vain, the words of the people that have actually reached a long age, or the result from scientific and medical research, can actually help in shedding some light to the workings of that miraculous machine, the human body. Ranging from life altering perceptions, like a change in attitude towards everyday things, or a shift of the pace and the intensity of life that surrounds, to the more trivial, like what we eat, or how we eat it, or the amount of sunlight we get each day, there are certain things we can do to aid ourselves towards achieving a longer life.

Reproduced from the original article, find below a comprehensive list of tips that could help you in your quest to achieve longevity. [2] For the complete list, please go to the original article. :

Read a magazine upside down

Consciously going outside your comfort zone every day, such as reading upside down, puts the brain under mild stress, damaging the cells — in repairing this damage your body also repairs age-related damage, says Dr Marios Kyriazis, a U.S. ageing expert. He suggests writing with your non-dominant hand, arguing the opposite to what you passionately believe, even listening to music you loathe.


Eat something red

‘A red pepper contains more vitamin C than an orange, beetroot contains nitrates that help to relax blood vessels, and tomatoes are packed with lycopene (a powerful antioxidant), especially when cooked, which may help protect against cancer, heart disease and other health problems,’ says Dr Susan Jebb, of the Medical Research Council’s Human Nutrition Research unit in Cambridge. ‘And red grapes are rich in resveratrol, thought to have anti-inflammatory, cancer-preventing and cholesterol-lowering properties.’ 


Run a mile as fast as you can

The speed at which you can run a mile in your 40s and 50s is a spooky prediction of heart disease 30 or 40 years later, according to a study by the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas. For men, eight minutes is good; for women, nine. But if you struggle to do it in ten minutes (12 minutes for women), you have 30 per cent greater risk of developing and dying from heart disease. Try walking the distance briskly first. When this becomes easy, break into a jog for a few yards at a time, gradually building up.

Have a banana

Reduce your blood pressure (and risk of strokes and heart disease) by increasing your intake of potassium-rich foods such as bananas, fruit juice and dried fruit. ‘Potassium helps counteract the damaging effects of excess salt in the diet,’ says nutritionist Dr Sarah Schenker. The recommended daily dose of potassium is 3.5g; to lower blood pressure, you need 4.7g — found in precisely one banana.

Practise squatting

squatting — lowering yourself as if to sit on a chair, hovering, then standing again — is widely regarded as the single most effective muscle-strengthening exercise of all (and the closest one movement gets to a full-body exercise). It’s important to keep agile so you can get out of a chair (or off the loo) in old age, and to prevent falls. 

Drink one tea a day

This has been shown to reduce levels of stress hormones and even boost survival rate following a heart attack by 28 per cent. Researchers at Harvard Medical School believe antioxidants in tea may help the blood vessels relax. 

Go to bed an hour earlier

Just one extra hour in bed could be enough to lower your blood pressure in as little as six weeks. A recent study from Harvard Business School of people who slept for seven hours or less a night found that going to bed an hour earlier led to a significant drop in blood pressure (and risk of heart attack and strokes). The researchers think too little sleep affects the body’s ability to deal with stress hormones. 

Floss every day 

Don’t just floss when food gets stuck. 
‘Flossing nightly can make a significant difference to how fast you age,’ says Dr Michael Roizen, a leading U.S. anti-ageing expert.‘It can take as much as 6.4 years off your age.’ Bacteria that cause tooth decay trigger inflammation, which in the arteries is ‘a significant precursor of heart disease’ (flossing may also protect against diabetes and dementia). 

Breathe with a straw

Take a few minutes each day to take deep, long breaths through a straw — with this simple exercise  you end up breathing more deeply, which can improve your lung function and capacity (which otherwise reduce with age), slowing your heart rate and lowering blood pressure, says Dr Mike Moreno, author of The 17-Day Plan To Stop Aging.

Walk every day

Research shows a short walk is enough to bulk up your brain — and slow down memory decline. One study of elderly sedentary people who covered six miles a week found they did better in memory and decision-making tests after six months — possibly because greater activity triggered new brain cells, as well as new blood vessels and connections between the brain cells.

Less on your plate

U.S. research shows rats, mice, flies and monkeys live up to twice as long when their food intake is reduced by a third. It’s thought eating less means the metabolism has less work, and so slows down, producing fewer damaging ‘free radicals’. 

Use an extra onion      

One 80g onion per person (in bolognese, say) is a sneaky way to add to your five portions of fruit and vegetables. Onions are thought to lower the risk of colorectal cancer, laryngeal cancer and ovarian cancer — they’re rich in quercetin, an antioxidant that prevents harmful enzymes from triggering inflammation, and contain sulphur compounds that boost the immune system.

Have sex at least twice a week

A study of men aged 45-50 in South Wales (the Caerphilly Cohort Study) found that regular sex has a protective effect — those lucky Welshmen who enjoyed frequent orgasms (twice a week) had a 50 per cent lower risk of early death than those who missed out. One U.S. expert estimates sex at least three times a week can add two years to your life (by increasing heart rate and blood flow) — do it every day and your life expectancy could increase by eight years! In addition to boosting circulation and reducing stress, sex releases DHEA, a building block of testosterone which helps repair and heal tissue; it’s also a natural anti-depressant, especially for women.

Forget something every day

Many age-related memory problems are not caused by shrivelling brain cells, but because we try to hold too much in our heads, says Dr John Medina, a leading U.S. brain researcher. ‘Middle-life brains have a really hard time blocking out unnecessary information.’ His solution: consciously dropping unimportant pieces of information to free up space — so let the bus timetable, the names of people you met at dinner, the plot of the TV soap opera drift from your mind.


Ditch the scales

It’s not so much your weight as the amount of fat around your middle that matters — waist measurement is a better predictor of heart disease than BMI (body mass index) because it can point to visceral fat, the dangerous fat around the organs. For a quick check, lie on your back on the floor — if your tummy flattens, your fat is mainly subcutaneous; a ‘dome’ or paunch indicates visceral fat that could shorten your life.

Build up your biceps

Anti-ageing expert Dr Miriam Nelson, of Tufts University, Massachusetts, says weight lifting is great for anti-ageing. In a study of 40 post-menopausal women who did strength training, twice a week for 30 minutes, she found after a year ‘their bodies had become 15 to 20 years younger (in terms of restoring muscle mass) and they all regained bone density instead of losing it, as women normally do at that age.’

Skip the sunscreen

The body’s ability to synthesise vitamin D from sunlight is reduced with age, and lower levels affects your immunity and bones. The over-60s are advised to have a daily 10mcg supplement as well as spending a little time in the sun (ideally 20 minutes a day).

One wine a night

Try stopping at one glass (125ml) of red a night (the equivalent of one unit of alcohol) — studies show this provides flavonoids and resveratrol, compounds which could reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and slow the progression of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s. But drinking three units may be enough to increase the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, breast and bowel. 

Argue with your partner

Don’t bottle it up — researchers at the University of Michigan found couples who suppressed their anger were 25 per cent more likely to die early. Over time, suppressed anger can cause high blood pressure, insomnia, heart problems and could increase risk of cancer.

Chew 20 times

Not only is it a tried-and-tested weight-loss tip, but a study presented at the International Congress of Endocrinology last month suggested not chewing properly can double the risk of type-2 diabetes — partly because people then eat more but also because chewing helps break down the food, making it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients.

Have children

Children may exhaust you, but they could save your life. A Danish study reported men unable to conceive were twice as likely to die early from circulatory disease, cancers and accidents — childless women were four times at risk. It’s thought they’re more likely to end up drinking, becoming depressed or ill. Adoption reduced the risk.

No late-night TV

After the age of 25, every hour of TV you watch could shave 22 minutes off your lifespan, suggest scientists at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. It doesn’t matter if you exercise — it’s long periods of inactivity the body really hates.  Muscles aren’t used properly, sugars and fats are not adequately processed, raising risks of illness and early death.


Humour may boost levels of infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells, says Robert Provine, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland. A really good belly laugh improves blood flow by more than 20 per cent. Some studies suggest it can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Professor Provine has found we’re 30 times more likely to laugh with other people than alone — the social nature of laughter has more impact than physiological changes.

For more conventional wisdom, you may further read the following :

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