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Everyday Habits That Add Years to Your Life, Say Experts

Seven ways to lengthen your lifespan, according to experts.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Living a long life isn't just about luck and genetics, but also how you take care of yourself. Having healthy behaviors is not only good for you, but can actually add years to your life. There's a few simple daily habits that can make a big difference healthwise and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who share their tips for living a longer life. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Floss Your Teeth Daily

woman cleaning her teeth with dental floss and smiling while standing against a mirror in bathroom

Dr. Michael Roizen M.D., and author of the forthcoming book The Great Age Reboot shares, "Flossing your teeth is important to decrease inflammation. Oral bacteria thriving on food residue stuck between your teeth can migrate to your bloodstream. There they can fuel inflammation that damages the lining of your arteries—making it susceptible to a buildup of plaque, which stiffens and narrows the arteries and—bang!—heart attack, stroke, and dementia."

2

Swap White Bread and Pasta for Whole Wheat

homemade whole wheat bread
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Dr. Roizen says, "One of the habits that has the most significant impact on your longevity is to not eat simple carbs. but instead eat complex carbs and healthy fats.  Working like sugars, simple carbohydrates (found in white bread and pasta) increase your blood sugar level quickly and trigger inflammatory responses. Whole grains and fiber are forms of carbohydrates that decrease inflammation and are good for brain and heart health (think beans, oats, fruits, and vegetables). Only eat foods that you love, and that love you back."

3

Stay Positive, Socialize, Reduce Technology

two female friends eating outdoors
Shutterstock / Vadim Martynenko

Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, Ph.D., a professor of public health at New Mexico State University tells us, "Given the stressful times we live in, studies have now shown that stress, isolation, pessimism, and excessive technology use are directly and indirectly linked to a variety of health risks that affect the heart and brain. For example, recent studies have shown that optimists may live longer and isolation, stress, and technology addiction can increase risk of heart attacks and stroke. Maintaining an active lifestyle and having a reasonable social life can add several quality years of life for an individual."

4

Skin Protection and Supplementation

woman smears face sunscreen at the beach for protection
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Dr. Khubchandani says, "One of the few manifestations of the aging process that are visible to the naked human eye are observed in skin. The skin is the largest organ that needs maintenance of tone, texture, hydration, and proper nourishment. The skin is also vulnerable to toxic exposures such as pollutants, ultraviolet radiation, extreme weather. Therefore, cleaning, protection of skin (e.g., avoiding air pollution, using sunscreen, keeping it covered) and nourishment (e.g., getting enough vitamins, minerals, and water) is key to look fresh and not more than your age."  

5

Keep Moving

woman jogging along a trail
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According to Dr. Khubchandani, "More than a third of adult Americans are either obese or overweight which makes us a country of the majority who are overweight. As a person grows older the metabolism becomes slower and our body has a tendency to accumulate a lot of fat in the belly (e.g., visceral abdominal fat) which is related to immune related, inflammatory, and biochemical changes in the body that are detrimental (especially, for heart and brain health) and increase risk of premature mortality. More than a quarter of American adults do not get the required or the type of physical activity that is recommended. As per the CDC guidelines each week adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and 2 days of muscle strengthening activity. Therefore, if you have maintained an inactive lifestyle, it's time to make sure that you're highly active now and you participate in enough physical activity and exercise. This would help you reduce the risk of the leading causes of death like heart disease and cancer and stroke. Exercise is the most cost-effective medicine to increase both quantity and quality of life."

6

Keep Sober and Avoid Substance Use

Sad woman drinking wine at kitchen.
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Dr. Khubchandani emphasizes, "It is never too late to quit or reduce all sources of intoxication such as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs/substances. More than half of the people in the United States have had experiences with alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs before the age of 21 years. However, for some, experimenting, casual use, and social trials may end up becoming a lifelong addiction. As a result, currently, more than 10% of adult Americans continue to remain regular smokers and more than a fourth are regular or heavy alcohol drinkers. As a person continues to age, they should try to seriously cut down or totally quit using tobacco and other drugs and moderate alcohol consumption because with age we are already prone to chronic diseases and alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs can further worsen the risk of chronic disease conditions or increase the risk for being diagnosed early with all these chronic disease conditions like heart disease cancer and stroke (that are the leading causes of death in the United States).  Even if someone survives with these habits, their quality of life remains suboptimal. Quitting early or reducing consumption adds both quantity and quality of life years."

7

Eat Good and With a Schedule

fasting
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"Food is medicine; it needs consumption in the right amount, at the right time, and of the right quality," says Dr. Khubchandani. "Less than a fifth of Americans consume adequate fruits and vegetables; junk and fast-food consumption has increased tremendously, and dangerous diet trends have emerged in the 21st century. As we continue to age, we should carefully watch our diet and consume more fruits and vegetables and unsaturated fats to ensure not putting on too much weight or increasing their risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This is part of aging and unhealthy diets increase the risk of cardio and cerebrovascular diseases (e.g., heart attacks and stroke) or increase the probability of having these diseases earlier in life. Dietary habits have profound influence on both quality and quantity of life by helping weight management and reducing the risk of chronic diseases."

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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