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5 Daily Habits to Live Longer

Your Simple Checklist for a Longer Life

by
author image Mike Roussell
Since 2002 Mike Roussell has written for publications both mainstream and academic ranging from "Men's Health" magazine and "Men's Fitness" magazine to the "Journal of Clinical Lipidology" and "Nutrition in the Treatment and Prevention of Disease." Dr. Roussell holds a B.S. with high honors in biochemistry from Hobart College and a doctorate in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University.
5 Daily Habits to Live Longer
People who eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables consistently have the lowest rates of chronic disease, maintain healthier body weights and live longer. Photo Credit Patrizia Savarese/Taxi/Getty Images

Overview

Sorry to break it to you. You're not gonna win the war against aging by just drinking a shot glass of some magical elixir from South East Asia.

In fact, aging is best kept at bay by fighting off chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, which accelerate the aging process and are the main causes of premature death.

Although accelerated aging — and aging in general — is a complex process, you can fight it with five simple daily habits.

Inactivity and the loss of muscle mass accelerate the aging process. The age-related changes in muscle quantity and quality that occur — even down to the cellular level — can be counteracted by just staying active.

1. Eat a Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables

People who eat a wide assortment of fruits and vegetables consistently have the lowest rates of chronic disease. They maintain healthier body weights, and they live longer.

The diverse colors of fruits and vegetables represent different nutrients and antioxidants. These various nutrients and antioxidants can fight aging from a number of angles.

Anthocyanins, for example, the antioxidant that gives blueberries their dark blue color, can help fight cancer cell growth, while beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A that gives carrots their orange color, can help support optimal immune function.

To eat a rainbow of colors each day, Kara Mohr of Mohr Results recommends you "pick out one to two new fruits or vegetables every time you shop for food, and include a fruit or vegetable in every meal and snack."

2. Consume More Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids

5 Daily Habits to Live Longer
If you don't like eating fish, take a fish oil supplement which works just as well. Photo Credit Room_TheAgency/RooM/Getty Images

The long-chain omega-3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are as close to a fountain of youth the world has to offer.

Dr. Ramin Farzaneh-Far, a cardiologist at San Francisco General Hospital, and his colleagues conducted a study looking at the effect of EPA and DHA on chromosomal aging.

They found, according to the publication of the results in "JAMA," that individuals with the highest levels of EPA and DHA in their blood had the lowest rates of heart disease and the slowest rates of chromosomal aging.

EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut, mackerel and sardines.

If you don't like seafood or you don't like fish enough to eat it every day, take a fish oil supplement. Getting EPA and DHA in your diet from a supplement works just as well as getting them from eating fish.

3. Floss Every Day

5 Daily Habits to Live Longer
If you wait too long between flossing, the bacteria surrounding your teeth and gums will build up and can enter your bloodstream. Photo Credit Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Flossing isn't just good for your gums; it's good for your longevity, too.

Flossing removes the bacteria that causes periodontitis and leads to cavities. But this bacteria can cause problems for more than just your teeth and gums.

If you wait too long between flossing, the bacteria surrounding your teeth and gums will build up.

Flossing loosens and removes the bacteria. This is important because if enough bacteria builds up, it can enter your blood stream, causing inflammation and increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading killer in the United States.

In fact, research from the "Journal of Periodontology" compared people who floss every couple of days to those who floss daily. The results showed that those who floss intermittently had an 86 percent higher chance of bacteria entering their blood than those who floss daily.

4. Drink Plenty of Green Tea

5 Daily Habits to Live Longer
While scientists are not sure of the exact reason why green tea enhances fat loss, you can reap the weight loss effects by drinking three to five 8-ounce cups each day. Photo Credit Sasa Komlen/iStock/Getty Images

Green tea may not be able to fight cancer, but it will help you shed those extra age-accelerating pounds you're carrying around.

Green tea contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate. A daily dose of EGCG combined with caffeine will help you lose as many as three pounds in 12 weeks and one inch off your waist, according to a January 2010 study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition."

While scientists are not sure of the exact means that green tea enhances fat loss — there seem to be multiple — you can reap these beneficial effects by drinking three to five 8-ounce cups each day. This is easily achieved by simply having a cup of green tea with each of your meals.

5. Move More

5 Daily Habits to Live Longer
Age-related changes down to the cellular level can be counteracted by staying active. Going for a daily walk is a great way to increase your daily movement. Photo Credit Igor Emmerich/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Inactivity and the loss of muscle mass as you get older can accelerate the aging process.

The age-related changes in muscle quantity and quality that occur — even down to the cellular level — can be counteracted by staying active.

Certified trainer Keith Scott, owner of Impact Training & Fitness in West Berlin, New Jersey, urges his clients to engage in simple tasks to get themselves moving.

"Going for a walk the first thing in the morning is an excellent way to increase general movement," he said. "In the spring and summer, I encourage clients to work on their yards by cleaning up, gardening or weeding. Activities like yard work encourage multiple movements that are simple yet great ways to move. Squatting, walking, bending, lifting [and so forth] are just some of the movements that are done in a few hours' worth of yard work."

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