Skip to content

Proven Ways to Quickly Extend Your Lifespan

Doctors share their tricks for living longer. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Although living a long quality life is something most people strive for, the life expectancy for Americans has dropped. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Life expectancy at birth in the United States declined nearly a year from 2020 to 2021… That decline – 77.0 to 76.1 years – took U.S. life expectancy at birth to its lowest level since 1996. The 0.9 year drop in life expectancy in 2021, along with a 1.8 year drop in 2020, was the biggest two-year decline in life expectancy since 1921-1923."

A new study from MDVIP reveals that more people want to live longer, but don't know how to extend their lifespan.  The study finds, "An encouraging 87% reported they want to take steps to live healthier for longer, and over half want to live to the age of 100 or older (53%). However, 3 out of 4 people surveyed (74%) failed a basic 20-question Longevity IQ quiz, indicating that most aren't knowledgeable enough about the lifestyle factors that influence aging and longevity."

"Despite Americans' desire to age well, the MDVIP survey also reveals how managing their health is taking a back seat to other priorities – 54% admit they plan more for their financial future than for their future health. This is especially true among men (60% vs. 47% of women) and adults ages 18-44 (64% vs. 44% of adults ages 45+)." Reaching longevity is achievable with the right healthy habits and lifestyle choices and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who share their tips on living past the average age. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Get Plenty of Vitamin D

Smiling woman taking a pill.

Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, muscles and immunity. While it's something our body produces naturally when sunlight hits our skin or though certain foods we eat like salmon, tuna and dairy that's fortified, many are deficient in the vital nutrient, which can potentially shorten your lifespan. Cleveland Clinic states, "Vitamin D deficiency is a common global issue. About 1 billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency, while 50% of the population has vitamin D insufficiency. Approximately 35% of adults in the United States have vitamin D deficiency."

Dr Jonathan M. Fields DAOM Functional Medicine, Acupuncture, Herbs, Stem Cells & PRP, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Sports Medicine, Primary Care explains, "While this topic may be controversial among medical professionals, there is plenty of evidence to show the benefits of how Vitamin D will increase your life expectancy, immune function, and help defend against a whole host of diseases. Most of us are supposed to get it through sunlight, and somewhat from diet, but levels of Vitamin D in the general population seem to be falling. Nobody is sure exactly why, but the theory is that between all the environmental toxins, food, stress and genetics, we may not be absorbing it. And even if we are absorbing it, we may not be converting it to D3, which is what the body ultimately needs. If you are going to consider supplementing, it's a good idea to ask your doctor to check your levels at least once a year."


Be Positive and Look on the Bright Side

happy woman restful sleep, what happens to your body when you sleep eight hours

Dr. Jacob Hascalovici MD, PhD the Clearing Chief Medical Officer tells us, "Recent studies have highlighted a link between optimism and longevity. Optimism can train the mind to focus attention on more cheerful, supportive thought patterns and behaviors, which can reduce unhelpful rumination and lessen awareness and sensitivity to pain. Optimism can also play a role in feeling a greater sense of autonomy and help with stress management. The more effectively stress is managed, the less likely it is to contribute to chronic diseases. Experts who study happiness have shown that positivity and optimism can be both learned and practiced."

Being happy and having a great attitude can help you live longer, according to a study led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health that stated, "Higher levels of optimism were associated with longer lifespan and living beyond age 90 in women across racial and ethnic groups." The study found, "Although optimism itself may be affected by social structural factors, such as race and ethnicity, our research suggests that the benefits of optimism may hold across diverse groups," said Hayami Koga, a PhD student in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences studying in the Population Health Sciences program in partnership with Harvard Chan School and lead author of the study. "A lot of previous work has focused on deficits or risk factors that increase the risks for diseases and premature death. Our findings suggest that there's value in focusing on positive psychological factors, like optimism, as possible new ways of promoting longevity and healthy aging across diverse groups."


Reduce Your Screen Time

Woman sitting on bed looking at phone bored and in a bad mood

Susan Gentile, Nurse Practitioner with ChoicePoint says, "Believe it or not, the more time you spend on social media, the less sleep you get. If you don't have a proper sleeping routine, you will always be exhausted and irritated. Sleep is essential for controlling cell activity and for bodily healing. Normally, people should sleep for 8 hours. But if your sleep is reduced to 4-5 hours this means that the body isn't getting time to rejuvenate and rest. This will increase the aging process and decrease life expectancy. Moreover, it will cause depression, anxiety, and inflammation in your body. You should reduce screen time by putting timers on the apps on your phone and going for walks before bedtime. This will improve your sleeping pattern."

The New York Times reports, "an increasing body of evidence suggests that the time we spend on our smartphones is interfering with our sleep, self-esteem, relationships, memory, attention spans, creativity, productivity and problem-solving and decision-making skills. But there is another reason for us to rethink our relationships with our devices. By chronically raising levels of cortisol, the body's main stress hormone, our phones may be threatening our health and shortening our lives.

Until now, most discussions of phones' biochemical effects have focused on dopamine, a brain chemical that helps us form habits — and addictions. Like slot machines, smartphones and apps are explicitly designed to trigger dopamine's release, with the goal of making our devices difficult to put down. This manipulation of our dopamine systems is why many experts believe that we are developing behavioral addictions to our phones. But our phones' effects on cortisol are potentially even more alarming."


Eat Mushrooms

Holding Mushrooms in Hands

Dr. Mahmud Kara, MD Internal Medicine tells us, "More than just a fun pizza topping, this fungi has four key nutrients that can help protect your body from aging before its time: Vitamin D, Selenium, Ergothioneine, and Glutathione. Overtime, oxidative stress and free radical damage can lead to prolonged health issues like cardiovascular disease, low energy, poor nutrient absorption, increased inflammation, and more. Along with their antioxidant properties, mushrooms also contain something called "aromatase inhibitors" which inhibit the production of estrogen which may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer. Furthermore, mushrooms have also been found to be powerful anti-inflammatory foods. Reducing inflammation is essential for longevity as chronic inflammation is the root of all evil. Chronic inflammation can lead to numerous health issues such as cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's or dementia, increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, poor organ function, and more."

Kent Probst, personal trainer, kinesiotherapist and bodybuilder with Long Healthy Life, adds, "According to a long term published study involving more than 15,000 Americans, people who consumed mushrooms daily had a lower risk of death from all causes.  Mushrooms contain a potent antioxidant known as L-ergothioneine.  L-ergothioneine has the ability to preserve telomere length, as well as lengthen telomeres. Telomeres, the caps on the ends of the chromosomes, shorten each time a cell divides.  Shortened telomeres are associated with age-related diseases.  Oxidative stress is believed to be a cause of shortened telomeres.  Mushrooms with the most health benefits include shiitake, maitake, chaga, and reishi."


Get at Least 7-9 Hours of Quality and Uninterrupted Sleep


Most of us have been guilty of skimping on sleep in favor of doing other things, but that hurts our health and puts us at risk for serious issues later on. While a good night's sleep is something that makes us feel better, it's something our body desperately needs. Like good food, we need good sleep for brain health. John Hopkins Medicine states, "a healthy amount of sleep is vital for "brain plasticity," or the brain's ability to adapt to input. If we sleep too little, we become unable to process what we've learned during the day and we have more trouble remembering it in the future." In addition, "When people don't get enough sleep, their health risks rise. Symptoms of depression, seizures, high blood pressure and migraines worsen. Immunity is compromised, increasing the likelihood of illness and infection. Sleep also plays a role in metabolism: Even one night of missed sleep can create a prediabetic state in an otherwise healthy person."

Dr. Andrea Klemes, Board certified in internal medicine and endocrinology and the chief medical officer at MDVIP says, "Sleep deprivation is linked with many chronic illnesses such type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression, reducing your lifespan and "healthspan" (which is the number of years you live well and free of chronic disease). REM, in particular, has been linked to brain health for years. Getting less than recommended REM sleep raises your risk for dementia, according to a study published in Neurology. But it's also necessary for overall health. For every 5% reduction in REM sleep, mortality rates rise between 13 and 17% among older and middle-aged adults, according to another study published in JAMA Neurology. In general, you should get 7-8hours of sleep every day."

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
Filed Under