Four Ways to Boost Your Longevity
As I get older, I’m less concerned with how I look and feel and more concerned with aging in a healthy way. I notice my sore back, the crick in my finger, the number of times I have to ask my children, “what did you say?”, and the way I can’t go to bed past 10:30 without feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck.
I’m more concerned about long-term health than short term fixes, because I want to think about my body, mind, and soul 5 years out, 15 years out, 35 years out. I’m learning along with you that it is the little things that make a big difference. Habits that are implemented and practiced are what move the needle for health and longevity.
Did you know that a recent study published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine found that adherence to a healthy lifestyle is directly associated with a lower risk of mortality (1?) That means that the daily choices you make can directly affect length of your life, with a few key areas making the biggest impact.
Let’s take a look at four of the areas that affect longevity most and some specific changes you can make in the next two weeks.
- Get consistent and adequate sleep
I’m looking at you, sister.
It’s not just duration, but the consistency of our sleep habits that impact our overall health (2.)
Researchers discovered that fluctuating amounts of sleep and irregular bedtimes and wake-up times put people at an increased risk for obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and other health problems (3. )
Sleep is essential for physical and mental well-being and is one of the most important factors responsible for the maintenance of health (4.)
A disrupted sleep-wake cycle and chronic sleep restriction, which are highly prevalent conditions in modern society, are strongly associated with age-related diseases. Therefore, the practice of sleep medicine as a tool for longevity is essential (5.)
What you can do in the next two weeks: Decide on a time that you’ll consistently go to sleep and wake up for the next two weeks so that you can get 7-8 hours of deep, therapeutic sleep. I recommend that my clients get into bed around 9pm each night and ride their “sleep waves” until they fall asleep each night. If you don’t start relaxing as your body tells you that it is time to get ready for bed, you’ll likely push your cortisol too high and will be unable to fall asleep. Taking an epsom salt bath is the best way to relax and begin the bedtime process.
- Incorporate daily movement
A study published in the British Medical Journal finds that any activity, no matter how modest, can reduce mortality risks, with some of the greatest gains seen when people shift from being almost completely couch-ridden toward rising and walking for even an extra hour each day (6.)
While thinking of adding an hour of movement to a sedentary lifestyle may seem overwhelming, don’t stress out – starting with small goals is fine! Maintain your focus on sitting less and moving more. Your ultimate goal should be about 150 minutes of movement per week or 20 minutes per day (7.) I am a big fan of walking 10,000 steps a day in aggregate. Nothing too crazy, just constant movement.
I like to walk in between meetings, even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes at ta time. If I don’t have to talk during a meeting, I’m walking. If I’m waiting for my kids, I am walking.
Remember, small goals are more achievable, and these little victories will continue to fuel your motivation for regular movement.
What you can do in the next two weeks: Start with a simple routine of walking 10 to 20 minutes three times per week. Every week or two, add five minutes per walk until you reach a goal of 20-30 minutes. Aim for 10,000 steps a day.
Our bodies are mostly water. Living in a properly hydrated body is vital for longevity, as water is responsible for flushing toxins, transporting nutrients, improving oxygen delivery to cells, and cushioning your bones and joints.
Aim to drink half your body weight in fluid ounces per day. For example: if you weigh 140 lbs, drink 70 oz daily. Sip slowly throughout the day and avoid drinking too much water with meals. If this seems like a lofty goal, start by looking at the color of your urine, it should be straw-colored or clear. If it’s a deep yellow, drink more water.
Incorporate hydrating beverages like good quality filtered water, herbal tea, and bone broth. Try to kick the coffee and caffeine habit. These will dehydrate you.
Something I learned this week is that if you’re regularly breathing through your mouth, especially at night, you lose 40% more moisture (water) than if you’re breathing through your mouth.
What you can do in the next two weeks: choose a realistic goal for daily water consumption and set a timer to remind yourself to drink water throughout the day. Consider gently taping your mouth shut with mouth tape at night to encourage your body do breathe through your nose and to eliminate loss of precious hydration.
- Healthy Diet
It should come as no surprise that a healthy diet is key to living a long, healthy life. Right?
Focus on high-quality proteins like grass-fed meat and wild caught fish, healthy fats like avocado, nuts and seeds, and generous amounts of vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals that are found in organic fruits and vegetables.
Together with incorporating nutrient-dense foods, avoid industrial fats and oils (like yellow vegetable oil), processed foods, and excessive sugar.
This is a huge one. Cut out soy oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, and canola oil (this means all fried foods). Trans fats and seed oils will age you quickly on the inside and outside.
What you can do in the next two weeks: include at least two servings of vegetables a day and swap out processed vegetable oil with healthier alternatives such as olive oil for salad dressings and coconut oil for cooking.
While adherence to a healthy lifestyle may feel intimidating at first, know that any step in the right direction is a win. Incorporating simple changes and setting achievable goals, like the four suggestions listed above, will help you support longevity and encourage overall health!
If you have done all of this and you’re still feeling stuck in your health journey, reach out to me and let’s talk- let’s start running the labs that take us deeper into healing opportunities.