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Our Top Ten Tips For Living Longer With a Surprise at Number One!

 width= In the United States, the fastest growing age group comprises those aged 85 and older while centenarians are the quickest growing age group in the UK, with the number of 100-year-olds almost doubling over a 14-year period, according to the Office for National Statistics in late 2017. Whenever the media celebrates with someone who has reached 100 years or beyond, they are always asked to what they attribute their long lives. And each will have a different answer. We might not all want to live to a great age, feeling that the quality of life is more important than the quantity.

But how can we combine those two, living longer but living healthier?

It would seem obvious that having good genes and leading a healthy lifestyle will add years to your life. However, developmental psychologist Susan Pinker addressed the topic of longevity during a TED Talk late in 2017, sharing the results of a longevity study conducted by a researcher at Brigham Young University. Participants were asked about every aspect of their lifestyles, from diet and exercise habits to whether they smoked and made regular visits to the doctor. The researchers then waited seven years before getting back in touch to ask some follow-up questions and collect additional data.

Here are the top ten reasons the survey concluded

  1. Social integrations - We need and thrive by being in contact with others. Those who live in a community where they interact with each other on a regular basis benefit most. This was the number one reason for their longevity and perhaps the most interesting and surprising of the ten.
  2. Close relationships - Having friends and family close by will contribute to a long life. Susan Pinker says: "Developing and nurturing close friendships came in as the second highest predictor of a long life expectancy. They’re important because those people are the ones who we can count on during times of stress. Just knowing that there’s someone to turn to during a crisis can make it easier to handle than if we had to go it alone." She goes on to add that if we are already in the throes of some kind of stressful event, our relationships can also help us cope with it and buffer that reaction to the stress.
  3. Quitting smoking - Apart from the many other risks of smoking, smokers can have a three times higher increase in age-related macular degeneration (or AMD) risk compared with those who have never smoked while female smokers over the age of eighty are five and a half times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers of the same age. Starting from the inside of the eye and going towards the back, the three main layers at the back of the eye are the retina (which contains the nerves); the choroid (which contains the blood supply); and the sclera (which is the white of the eye). The macula is the central area of the retina, which provides the most detailed central vision.
  4. Cutting out alcohol - While smoking is still the most preventable cause of cancer, and is followed closely by obesity, we have to be aware of the dangers of alcohol too. At the very least, making a plan to have some alcohol-free days every week; cutting down on the number of drinks when partying; and making the decision not to keep too much alcohol in the home could be some strategies to introduce.
  5. Disease prevention - The researchers suggest having the flu vaccine as an important aspect of disease prevention. I would dispute this and I would avoid having an annual flu shot at all costs. Instead, I would add "ensuring that the elderly are not suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency" as one of the best methods of disease prevention. Disease prevention can also include helping many parts of our bodies to constantly renew and rejuvenate.
  6. Cardiac rehab - The goal of cardiac rehabilitation is to stabilize, slow, or even reverse the progression of cardiovascular disease, thereby reducing the risk of future problems. However, even though these types of programs have proven successful in guarding against future heart trouble, practitioners often fail to refer older patients to cardiac rehab. And there’s evidence that many older adult patients who are referred don’t attend as often as they should. More than one study has shown a severe disconnect in referral and participation rates, especially for older adults. You can find out more here.
  7. Exercise - An exercise psychologist says "Dont believe everything you watch even it is a Ted talk!" He says: "It not my intention to dispute the central argument of Pinker’s presentation, which is that strong social relationships, good social integration and minimal social isolation are all critically important to our wellbeing, as the data shows that this is so.What I do want to contest, however, is her claims made regarding the effects of exercise on mortality, as this is what primarily interests me as an Exercise Scientist. I wanted to confirm that what was presented actually reflects the current body of evidence and the latest science published in this area. My contention is that what she presented in her TED talk does not in fact do this."
  8. Lean vs. overweight - It is feared that the Alzheimer’s epidemic will follow the obesity one. In the US, there are 4 to 5 million Americans with dementia and the figure will continue to rise. The aging population means that dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, is currently seen as one of the main health challenges in the US. All the more important to try to keep on the lean side. The three biggest changes in the American diet since 1970 have been (1) an increase in cereal grain consumption (particularly wheat), (2) an increase in sweetener consumption and (3) the replacement of meat and milk fat (butter) with industrial vegetable oils (margarine), with total fat intake remaining the same. And yet since then, the US population and others have been steadily growing overweight and even obese. Now at last, nutritionists are starting to wake up to the fact that the wrong advice has been given all along. 
  9. Hypertension Rx - If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you can reduce this successfully without resorting to pharmaceutical medications with their often very detrimental side effects. Pay special attention to stress reduction, changing to good nutrition and starting regular exercise. It may be that your family has a history of cardiovascular disease which might make you more at risk. We share our top ten natural tips on how to avoid high blood pressure but obviously these should be carried out with your medical practitioner's approval.
  10. Clean air - It is only in recent times that clean air has become so important to us. Those who live in areas of high pollution are not only at higher risk of heart disease and respiratory illness but also from being denied a good night’s sleep with insomnia becoming a way of life. But it is not only the air outside, indoor air quality can be poor or even toxic too.

What are "Flourishers" and "Languishers"?

Roughly 17% of Americans are flourishers. They are the ones who have a positive outlook on life, a sense of purpose and community, and are healthier than “languishers”. The latter account for roughly the 10% of adults who don’t feel good about themselves. The majority of us fall somewhere in between - we are neither flourishers nor languishers...
We should strive to flourish, to find meaning in our lives.” says Corey Keyes, PhD, Professor of Sociology at Emory University. He adds: “In Sardinia and Okinawa, where people live the longest, hard work is important, but not more so than spending time with family, nurturing spirituality, and doing for others.