Want to Live Longer? Do These 3 Things

old seniors

For thousands of years, people have been looking for the Fountain of Youth — or at least quick, easy ways to slow the aging process and stay young and energetic for as long as possible.

Several recent studies have once again confirmed that the keys to staying young can’t be found in a bottle, a pill or even a mythical fountain. In fact, according to this new research, a few simple lifestyle changes can result in a long life, with fewer health problems along the way.

Longevity Tip #1: Make More Friends

No one sets out hoping to be elderly and alone, living out their days in an endless routine of television game shows and crossword puzzles. Unfortunately, many older people find themselves isolated and alone as they age. Many older people end up without a support system and social network once they leave the workplace and the social interactions that working provides. In addition, families are more often geographically spread-out and friends die off with age. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, social isolation can actually reduce longevity, especially when combined with other risk factors such as smoking, heart disease or weight problems.

The study of 6,500 adults indicated that those who had strong relationships and connections with other people lived longer than those who were isolated from others. These results send a clear message to baby boomers and other adults nearing retirement age: nurture relationships, and seek ways to make new connections and build friendships as you move through different phases of life. Not only will it prevent deadly isolation, but socializing will also help you live out those extra years fully and richly.

Longevity Tip #2: Watch Your Blood Pressure

By now, the need to keep blood pressure in check is probably old news. Most people realize that keeping their blood pressure within a healthy range helps prevent a host of health problems, including heart attack and stroke.

However, what many people don’t realize is that high blood pressure can also affect the brain. Researchers at Calhoun Cardiology Center in Farmington, Conn. have found that as we age, high blood pressure leads to a narrowing of blood vessels in the brain and the development of what they call “white matter lesions.” These lesions, present in nearly two-thirds of people over age 75, can limit mobility and cognitive functioning.

The same researchers are now looking at whether taking an aggressive approach to lowering blood pressure through medication and lifestyle changes can reduce the effects of these lesions and improve quality of life for older people. While the study is ongoing, early results are promising and lend support to a fact that we already know: keeping your blood pressure within a healthy range will help you stay younger and healthier longer. That means regular exercise, a healthy diet and, if necessary, medication.

Longevity Tip #3: Eat Well

Again, by now, most everyone knows that a balanced, healthy diet is the key to health. However, it’s not simply a matter of increasing your fruits and vegetables and limiting junk food that influences how long you live. Avoiding certain foods — and adding others — can add time to your life span.

For example, researchers at the University of Zurich in Switzerland have found that those who eat a diet high in processed meats, which include ham, bacon, sausages, luncheon meats and “ready-to-eat” foods, such as canned or frozen meals, are 44 percent more likely to die of heart disease or cancer than those who consume more fresh meats and produce. An occasional slice of bacon or two is not going to take years off of your life, but a steady diet of processed meat is likely to impact your longevity.

At the same time, adding green tea to your daily diet can significantly reduce your chances of having a stroke. Previous studies showed that green tea can reduce the risk of a heart attack, but a new study in Japan indicated that drinking at least one cup a day of green tea also reduces the chance of stroke by 20 percent. While it might not be the Fountain of Youth, green tea can certainly help you avoid some common, and deadly, ailments.

Of course, how long you will live depends on a number of factors, including genetics and your overall health, but taking charge of your health now can improve your chances of living a long life — and enjoying yourself while you do it.

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