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I am a Doctor and Here's the Secret to Living Longer Than Everyone Else

Doctor shares five ways to live longer. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

We all know that to live a long quality life, we have to make healthy lifestyle choices that require commitment and discipline like eating well and exercising. There's no way around it, but there's other things we can do as well that help prolong our lifespan. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with  Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies who shares five things she tells her patients to do in order to live longer. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Don't Neglect Your Health

senior man consulting with doctor

Dr. Mitchell says, " It's no secret that leading a healthy lifestyle is good for our well-being. Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are all important habits to maintain. However, it can be challenging to stick to these habits, especially if we don't have the time or resources to do so. For example, eating healthy can be expensive if we're buying organic produce, and exercising can be demanding if we don't have access to a gym. This is where willpower comes in. If we find the motivation to stick to our goals, we'll be more likely to see results.

Additionally, it's important to remember that everyone's definition of a "healthy lifestyle" is different. What works for one person might not work for another, so it's essential to find what works best for us. We can significantly impact our overall health by making small changes in our daily routines.

As a doctor, I know the consequences of neglecting one's health. I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of putting off medical care or failing to take preventive measures. In my life, I have committed to prioritizing my health, and I encourage my patients to do the same. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting preventive screenings are all important steps that we can take to maintain our health. But of course, there are times when we will all experience illness or injury, but by taking care of ourselves, we can minimize the risk of severe problems down the road. As doctors, we see the importance of self-care every day, and I hope my patients will also make their health a priority.

Here are just five of the many things you can do to help you stay healthier than everyone else."


Be a Germaphobe


Dr. Mitchell jokes, "Well, maybe I am kidding, but there is some truth to this. Simple things like washing one's hands properly with soap and water go a long way.

For as long as I can remember, I have refused to touch door handles in public bathrooms, if possible. I see them as a dirty petri dish of grossness. If I can use a paper towel, my elbow, or something else to open the door, I am all for it.  Did you ever do the biology experiment when you took swabs of "high touch areas" in your school or university and grew them? I did, and the results were gross!!

For all the doubters out there, I believe the global science experiment, "aka the pandemic," has shown the importance of distancing and hand washing. Inside, I did a happy dance because I know some people do not wash their hands regularly."


Don't Smoke

stop smoking

"While it's true that some people seem to defy the odds when it comes to unhealthy habits like smoking, the fact is that smoking can have a severe impact on your life expectancy," Dr. Mitchell emphasizes. "Studies have shown that smokers are more likely to die prematurely than non-smokers, even if they only smoke occasionally. And it's not just the smokers who are at risk: exposure to secondhand smoke has been linked to an increased risk of respiratory illness, cancer, and other health problems. So while that person you know who smoked like a chimney and lived to be 100 may be an anomaly, the reality is that smoking is a dangerous habit that can shorten your life."


Drink Lots of Water, and Mainly Water

Close-up of pretty young woman drinking water from glass

Dr. Mitchell reminds us, "Drinking plenty of water is essential for good health. Every cell, tissue, and organ in the human body needs water to function correctly. For example, water:

– Carries nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body

– Flushes toxins out of vital organs

– Moistens mucous membranes

– Regulates body temperature

– Lubricates joints

People who do not drink enough water can become dehydrated. Even mild dehydration can cause:

– Fatigue

– Lightheadedness

– headache 

 more severe dehydration can lead to: 

 – Heat stroke 

 – seizure 

 – hospitalization 

Chronic dehydration can also lead to severe health conditions, such as kidney stones, bladder cancer, and urinary tract infections. Drinking plenty of fluids daily, especially in hot weather or when you are physically active, is essential. The best fluid for hydration is plain water. However, liquids such as fruit juice, milk, and soup can also increase your daily fluid intake. Avoid sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks, and alcohol, which can promote dehydration. When selecting a beverage, look for one that contains no calories or added sugars. And be sure to drink plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty – by the time you feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated."


Have a Grateful, Positive Attitude

woman relaxes while doing yoga by the water

According to Dr. Mitchell, "There is a growing body of research that suggests that gratitude has a positive impact on our physical and psychological health. Studies have shown that grateful people are more likely to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and get regular check-ups. Furthermore, grateful people report higher satisfaction with their lives and are less likely to experience depression, anxiety, and loneliness. All of these factors can lead to a longer lifespan. Additionally, gratitude has been shown to boost the immune system, which can protect against illness and disease. So, while there is no guarantee that being grateful will lead to a long life, it seems clear that it can significantly impact our overall health and well-being. If you struggle to have a positive attitude, try to bring a natural smile to yourself. It is pretty hard to be angry and smile at the same time."


Avoid High-Risk Behaviors

Sad woman drinking wine at kitchen.

Dr. Mitchell tells us. "Many behaviors can put one at risk for health problems or premature death. For example, smoking cigarettes, excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, and risky sexual behaviors are all high-risk behaviors. These behaviors can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and stroke. They can also result in injuries, violence, and unplanned pregnancies. Therefore, it is essential to avoid these behaviors to live a healthier, longer life. Many resources help people make healthy choices and avoid high-risk behaviors. For example, Quitlines provide free counseling and support for smokers who want to quit. Alcoholics Anonymous offers support groups for people who wish to abstain from drinking. And many clinics and hospitals provide confidential counseling and testing for sexually transmitted infections. By using these resources, people can reduce their risk of health problems and improve their chances of living a long and healthy life."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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