How to live longer may sound like a trick question, but the answer is a simple one.
Research has found there are just five health lifestyle changes you should make that can vastly improve your life expectancy.
These include eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. But what is a “healthy diet” and how much exercise should you be doing?
Nutritionists Dr Marilyn Glenville and Cassandra Barns have offered their expert advice to help with longevity.
Eating a healthy diet
“Firstly, what we eat and our body weight can have just as big an impact on our risk of disease as smoking or drinking,” said Cassandra Barns, who is also a fitness instructor.
“Secondly, this is a risk factor that we can control, unlike some others such as genetics and age. The power is in our hands to make a change and stay healthy as we get older and raise a family. And this doesn’t mean having to follow a strict diet or never have any treats: simply turning away from processed foods and favouring ‘real’ foods and our 5 a day of vegetables and fruit can make a huge difference.”
A study on more than 123,000 individuals over a 34 year period found that maintaining the following five habits can increase your life expectancy by a decade or more
Exercise is an appetite suppressant, and it stimulates the release of feel food hormones – the same ones, which are released by sweet or junk foods, stopping the need for the food you are craving,” explained Cassandra.
Not only can exercise put a smile on your face and help prevent you from reaching for the nearest bar of chocolate, but it will also speed up your metabolism so you can continue to burn calories at your desk.
Dr Glenville explained: “When you exercise your body continues to be metabolically active in order to build the muscles you have trained. This means it requires fuel in the form of calories just to maintain your muscles even when you are sitting doing nothing. So, the more muscle you have, the more calories you use up, and, the more fat you will burn.”
Dr Wendy Denning, working in association with CuraLin Diabetic Supplement, advises “30 minutes of exercises, five times per week.”
Cassandra adds: “If you’re struggling to find the motivation, find a work out buddy or a fitness class that you love, so that exercising isn’t thought of like a chore. Exercising on your own, whether it’s working out in the gym or going for a run, can be a joyless experience. But exercising with others in a class can be motivating and much more fun, especially if there’s great music too.”
How to live longer: There are five lifestyle changes you can make
How to live longer: 30 minutes of exercise five times a week is recommended
Keep a healthy body weight
Some people find it extremely hard to remain the same size and often fluctuate up and down. Here are three top tips to help you maintain a healthy body weight:
Tip one – eat regularly
Dr Glenville explains: “Try to keep your blood sugar levels and energy levels stable by eating regularly. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a snack mid-morning and one mid-afternoon, with no longer than three hours between. This will help stop those roller-coaster highs and sugar cravings because your blood sugar isn’t allowed to drop, your body will no longer have to ask you for a quick fix.”
Tip two – eat slow
“When you eat slowly you are less likely to overeat. Once you start eating it takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. So, if you eat slowly you will end up eating less food because your brain will tell you that you have had enough. If you eat quickly, you can consume a lot more food than you actually need before your brain realises,” advises Dr Glenville.
Tip three – don’t stress
When we’re stressed the first thing many of us do is reach for something sugary either as a way of comforting ourselves or giving us a quick burst of energy. However, that burst of energy is not solving the stress related issue and one hour later you’ll be after the next pick me up. For extra support, certain nutrients can be helpful for reducing stress levels. “These include the B vitamins especially B5 for stress relief and energy, magnesium – nature’s tranquiliser for relaxation, chromium for blood sugar balance and L-theanine for reducing both mental and physical stress and anxiety,” said Dr Glenville.
A supplement she recommends which contains all of these nutrients, plus more, is called NHP Tranquil Woman Support.
How to live longer: Stopping smoking can add years on to your life
Cut down on alcohol
For UK adults aged 19 to 64 who completed a diary of drink and food consumption over four consecutive days, alcohol provided on average 8.4 per cent of their energy intake.
“Alcohol prevents the release of glucose from the liver and can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels). This drop in blood sugar often produces a craving for foods, especially foods that raise blood sugar such as alcohol or sugar – not good for anyone, especially those concerned about weight gain. Alcohol also prevents the body’s ability to digest fats properly, potentially causing excessive amounts of fat accumulating in the liver,” explains Cassandra Barns.
Her top tip: look after your liver and swap that vodka, lime and soda for an Equinox Kombucha – the perfect fizz with an added health kick and no alcohol! As well as other health benefits, the antioxidants in Kombucha could protect the liver from oxidative stress. Equinox Kombucha is available in 4 flavours: Original, Ginger, Raspberry & Elderflower & Wild Berry.
We’re often bombarded with health stats and pictures of dying lungs to remind us smoking is bad for our bodies, so this one may not come as a shock that if you don’t smoke it can help add to your lifespan. What may be more shocking is that smoking can make it harder for a woman to conceive and also has an affect on men’s sperm, reducing fertility and increasing risks of birth defects and miscarriage. Lastly, smoking prematurely ages you.
The experts add: “Not only does smoking stain your teeth, fingers and fingernails, it also dehydrates your skin, leading to wrinkles. So even if you’re one of the lucky ones and smoking doesn’t decrease your lifespan – the life you have left will be spent looking less attractive.”