Nine Habits of Highly Healthy People
don't yet have the perfect formula for long life, happiness, and
physical health, but a little careful distillation of the massive
amount of research on health and longevity reveals that cultivating
nine basic habits will significantly increase the odds of your
living long, well, and happily -- in a robust, healthy,
No kidding --and I'm talking at least 9 servings a day.
Every major study of long-lived, healthy people shows that they eat a
ton of plant foods. Nothing delivers antioxidants, fiber, flavonoids,
indoles, and the entire pharmacopeia of disease fighting phytochemicals
like stuff that grows in rich soil. (Watch this fifteen minute video by Dean Ornish MD,
Department Head Preventative Medicine at the University of California,
San Francisco, school of medicine.)
fish and/or take fish oil.
The omega-3's found in cold-water fish like salmon deserve the title of
"wellness molecule of the century." They lower the risk of heart
disease, they lower blood pressure, they improve mood, and they're good
for the brain. And if you're pregnant, they may make your kid
this 40 second video on "fish
oils" and your child's education.
Connected. And I'm not talking about the internet. In
virtually every study of people who are healthy and happy into their
9th and 10th decades, social connections are one of the "prime movers"
in their life. Whether church, family, volunteer work, or community,
finding something you care about that's bigger than you, that you can
connect with and that involves other people
(or animals) -- will extend your life, increase your energy, and make
you happier -- always.
At least 10-15 minutes three times a week. Interestingly, a recent
study showed that the four healthiest places on earth where the people
were longest-lived, were in sunny climates.1 Sun
improves your mood and boosts levels of cancer-fighting,
performance-enhancing, bone-strengthening vitamin D -- a vitamin most
people don't get nearly enough of.
Low in energy, gaining weight, grumpy, and looking haggard?
Guess what? Chances are you're not sleeping long enough ... well enough
... uninterrupted sleep ... in the dark ... without the television on
... in a relaxing environment. Nothing nourishes, replenishes, and
restarts the system like 7-9 hours of good sleep.
Forget this 20 minutes three times a week stuff. Long-lived people are
doing things like farm chores when the sun comes up! Our bodies were
designed to move on a regular basis. New studies show that merely 30
minutes a day of walking not only reduces the risk of most serious
diseases, but can even grow new brain cells!2
By making a list of things you're grateful for, you focus the brain on
positive energy. Gratitude is incompatible with anger and stress.
Practice using your under-utilized "right brain" and spread some love.
Focusing on what you're grateful for -- even for five minutes a day --
has the added benefit of being one of the best stress-reduction
techniques on the planet.
red wine or eat grapes.
The resveratrol in dark grapes is being studied for its effect on
extending life, which it seems to do for almost every species studied.
(So does eating about one third less food, by the way.) If you've got a
problem with alcohol, you can get resveratrol from grapes, peanuts, or
supplements. (And if you're a woman, and you choose the alcohol option,
make sure you're getting folic acid every day.)
Get the sugar out.
The number one enemy of vitality, health, and longevity is not fat,
it's sugar. Sugar's effect on hormones, mood, immunity, weight, and
possibly even cancer cells is enormous -- and it's all negative. To the
extent that you can remove it from your diet, you will be adding years
to your life and life to your years.
This list may not be perfect and it may not be
complete, but it's a start. As my dear grandmother used to say,
"Couldn't hurt." Not one of these "habits" will hurt you, all will
benefit you, and some may make the difference between life and death.
And it's never too late to start cultivating them.
Enjoy the journey!
D, The Blue Zones, National Geographic Books,
2008; ISBN 1426202741.
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