8 Surprising Habits That Will Give You a Longer Life
1. Floss Your Teeth Every Day
Strange but true. This information comes straight from the medical community. Emory University conducted a study some years back showing that daily flossers live an average of 6.4 years longer than those who never or only rarely floss. Flossing doesn't only prevent periodontal diseases, it reduces the amount of bacteria that you swallow and introduce to your digestive track. Flossing is also proven to fight heart disease. When bacteria builds in the mouth, the immune system launches an attack. This triggers inflammation in the arteries, which can cause them to narrow.
2. Eat at Least 1 Fresh Fruit and 1 Raw Vegetable a Day
Uncooked fruits and vegetables are a great supply of life enhancing enzymes, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, many of which are aids in fighting the major diseases. Go for variety and bright color. The darker green lettuces pack more vitamins and minerals than the lighter iceberg types. An easy way to get more raw vegetables in your diet is a colorful salad at each meal. Go for 5 ingredients minimum. Mix it up and experiment. I have revolutionized my salad building with a Salad Shooter. When I have extra time, I grate up different vegetables (cucumber, radish, bell pepper, celery, beets, carrots) and store them in an airtight container. When I'm ready to make a salad, I have a mini salad bar in my fridge. As for fruits, one first thing in the morning is a great habit to cultivate. I go for a second piece of raw fruit (with nuts or yogurt) in the mid-afternoon.
3. Eat Slowly and Chew Well
Digestion begins in the mouth, with the chewing of our food. Chemicals in our saliva actually perform a digestive function. That's one reason to chew well. Keep in mind too that when we eat fast and swallow large pieces of food, we overload our digestive system and set up conditions for a variety of short-term digestive problems (like heartburn) as well as more serious long-term problems (colitis or cancer). One of the primary causes of digestive disorders is what we might call low mastication (not enough chewing). Give yourself at least 20 minutes per meal and chew each mouthful at least 20 times. Think of it as the 20-20 rule.
4. Wash Your Hands
The Center for Disease Control says that the most effective way to prevent catching contagious diseases is regular hand-washing, especially when you're in public places. During cold and flu season, be fastidious about this. Carry disinfectant wipes in your purse or car for convenience. Use them every time you've been in a public place like the grocery store, post office or classroom and any time you're in direct contact with people. We never know who might be carrying contagions. Public pens and door handles are notorious carriers of infectious microbes. Washing your hands will absolutely reduce your bouts of cold and flu.
5. Drink More Water
Most of us suffer from chronic mild dehydration. Medical science is discovering that dehydration is a contributing factor to most illnesses. As one researcher says, "our bodies are starving for water!" Drinking sugary sodas laden with artificial colors and flavors may quench your thirst, but they are only contributing more junk to your body's filtration needs. Water cleanses waste and toxins from our body and lubricates joints and organ systems (like the colon). Your body needs a daily supply of fresh, pure water (no sweeteners) to filter toxins and impurities out of its systems. Aim for 3 quarts a day. Unsweetened herbal tea is OK.
6. Love Your Liver
Your liver performs an amazing array of essential functions, and it is constantly stressed by our modern lifestyles. Liver disease is the fourth most common cause of death in the US. Get in the habit of nourishing and cleansing your liver. There are simple and even pleasant ways of loving your liver. One is a yearly liver cleanse with a lemon detox diet. A squeeze of lemon (about half a lemon) in a cup of warm water first thing in the morning is very cleansing. Your liver is performing vital functions in the morning, so to prevent overloading it, keep your morning meal low in fat.
7. Exercise Your Brain
People who keep their minds sharp live longer. Maintaining active neuro pathway activity helps fight Alzheimer's Disease, increases cell growth in the brain and reduces the loss of synapse connectivity. Activities that promote brain health include planning, playing chess, doing crossword puzzles, learning a new language or skill, traveling, experiencing new settings, meeting new people, and exercise that involves coordination. Do something every day to keep your mind fit and your memory sharp.
The Buck Institute for Age Research has found that people who are involved in charity work have a 44% lower death rate than those who do not volunteer. Like exercise, unselfish acts of kindness boots your anti-bodies (which enhances your immune system) and stimulates serotonin production (which improves mood). Giving your time for the betterment of others can restore one's sense of optimism and positivity. The Mayo Clinic reports that people who are optimistic live longer, by as much as 20%. So if your attitude veers toward the negative or your focus has been too self-oriented, think about volunteering once a week. It will add years to your life, and they'll be happier ones.
Which of these simple tasks do you already do? Which are you going to add to your lifestyle? There's no reason you can't incorporate these 8 simple steps into your life today. Isn't your health worth the small bit of effort?
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