Ageing is inevitable and although our genes give an indication of how long we could live, but how we live our lives has a big impact on our longevity. Dr. Chawapon Kidhirunkul, MD, MSc, ABAARM, gives her insights on Living longer and a better lifestyle.
Having good genes is a good determinant for living longer and healthier. However, genetics is only a piece of the puzzle. While you cannot control your genes, you can control how well your genes express. Genes account for just 25 percent of your longevity, the other 75 percent is lifestyle. It depends on how you live. Actually, most of health problems can be dealt with your lifestyle at home.
These are 5 keys to help you live longer and healthier.
Healthy diet is not just eating clean. First, you must vary the foods you eat. If you eat a variety of good food, it will provide you with adequate nutrition. No single food can apply all nutrients you need. To make sure you get all of the essential nutrients needed for health, food variation is very important. Second, eat fewer calories. Cutting calories could do more than just slim our waistlines. Many researches show that caloric restriction has been linked to longer live span. They find that eating less can actually slow down the process of aging at a cellular level. If you want to live longer, eat less.
Exercise is medicine. Regular physical activity is good for overall health. It health control your body weight and prevent excess weight gain. Many health problems can be prevented with exercise, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis, as well as cancer. It also helps improve your mood. Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may make you feel more relaxed after a stressful day. You also feel better about your appearance and boost your confidence and self-esteem. When you stay active, your heart and lung function improve, so you have more energy for your day. If you are having trouble sleeping, exercise is a good help. Being physically active leads to better sleep. It improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration. Indirectly, because exercise helps reduces stress, it helps you fall asleep faster and deeper.
Getting your stress under control
I rather not to say, “Don’t get stressed.” Actually, stress is necessary. Without stress, our bodies would not work properly. Stress is a vital warning system, producing the fight-or-flight response. There are two major types of stress. Stress that is beneficial and motivating – good stress – and stress that is not so healthy – bad stress. The key is to control the bad stress. It may be difficult to tell when you are experiencing good or bad stress but watch out for these signs; changes in mood, appetite, trouble sleeping, poor concentration, fatigue. These are signs of excessive stress. Stress is an inevitable part of live. You may not be able to avoid all of the stress, but you can improve the way your response to it. There are many techniques that has shown to help reduce stress. It’s important to not avoid your stress. You have to deal with it but give yourself time is helpful. Take a break for that stressor will help you manage your stress better. Laughs or smiles can also help relieve some of that bad feeling. Exercise also benefits your mind as well as your body. It can help reduce stress immediately. Meditation and mindfulness can help you see new perspectives. It is not about what happen to you, it is about how you react to it. Much like exercise, meditation can briefly show benefit.
Having a meaningful purpose
When you live with passion, your overall health improves. Some researches show that enjoyment and life satisfaction is linked with greater longevity. Having a meaningful purpose or engagement is a reason for living. That tends to contribute to greater overall health. Engaging in something larger than just yourself, something meaningful is the key for longevity. You will feel happier, your body get stronger, and you will live longer.
Your social life, the secret to live longer
Social isolation is the public health risk of our time. A research shows that social integration and close relationships with family are the strongest predictor for longevity. Another research shows that social integration is related to better physiological functioning and lower risk of physical disorders. Connect with friends, family members, colleagues and even strangers. Social connection is one of the best way to achieve a happy life. This can result in good health and longevity. Keep in mind, interacting with people online does not serve us the same way that face-to-face interactions do. Social isolation may cause loneliness. It results a lack of opportunities for social engagement and mental stimulation, activities keeping us in good condition. In the long term, this cause accelerated aging with multiple health consequences. That is why social integration and social support are essential for longevity. In fact, social integration is everyone’s responsibility. Good support from family and community can help ease the problem.
There are many factors determine how well and how long you will live. Overall, lifestyle is a key to good health. It is taking care of yourself; mind body and spirit. They are all connected. When one of these factors are off balance, our body will feel it. To be healthy, they all need to be in balance. We not just want to live longer in poor health. Many people live longer but they spend more time sick and disabled. Actually, our goal is to live longer in good health.
We may call it “healthy aging”.