5 Keys to Healthy Longevity

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April 7th is World Health Day, brought to us by the World Health Organization. It’s a great reminder that while we may be genetically predisposed to certain health problems, the lifestyle choices we make each day can be the most influential. One in every 10,000 Americans reaches the age of 100. Why not you? These 5 habits can help ensure a long and healthy life:

Embrace fresh, whole foods
Whole foods are packed with essential nutrients, and brightly colored fruits/veggies offer a plethora of antioxidants which protect your cells from free radical damage. And—along with nourishing your body and brain—fresh produce, lean protein and whole grains also help minimize chronic inflammation in the body, which has been linked to heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. Additionally, regularly consuming omega-3 rich fish may trim your risk of everything from heart disease to depression to Alzheimer’s.

Take your vitamins
A 2009 study in the Nutrition Journal found that 72% of doctors and 89% of nurses use dietary supplements to improve their own health and most also recommend them to patients. It’s now clear that even with good dietary intentions, you can still fall short on crucial nutrients through food alone, especially if you’re busy and/or under stress. Many health professionals suggest a high-quality, full spectrum multi-vitamin/mineral supplement daily—with good reason.

Stay trim and fit
Along with helping you maintain a trim body, regular exercise offers powerful disease protection on many levels. There’s no way around it, fitness is a health essential. Fortunately, even light exercise goes a long way, provided it’s consistent. Options abound, from the gym, to yoga class, a bike ride, trail hike—even a casual stroll helps. Exercise improves both the way you look and feel, helps to minimize stress, alleviate depression, and even improves self-esteem.

Nourish connections
In his book Healthy at 100, John Robbins discusses an aspect of longevity that goes beyond diet/exercise: the power of love and connection in our personal relationships. He says that “ultimately it’s the love in our lives that underlies and makes possible our greatest healing and longevity.” And, in Love and Survival, author Dean Ornish, M.D. notes that the real epidemic in modern culture is not only physical heart disease but also spiritual heart disease, and he shares how loving intimacy can heal and transform our lives.

Do you get enough sleep?
While restorative sleep is essential for overall wellness, insomnia affects up to 10% of Americans. With the daily stress many Americans face, it’s understandable that slumber eludes us at times. “Sleep thieves” like caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco also factor in. However, deep sleep is essential to rejuvenate body cells and dreaming promotes brain health. Natural sleep aids can help—as can regular exercise, healthy diet and proper hydration.

So, might healthy longevity be within your reach? Yes! Tomorrow is another day. Start fresh and choose wellness.

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