What to Do to Live a Healthy and Long Life

Healthy food for healthy life
We often hear tips and advice on how to live a long and healthy life. It's common knowledge that we should eat good food, exercise, sleep well, and manage stress. Experts agree, and there's a lot of research supporting these ideas, but in our busy lives, we sometimes forget to make these habits a priority. This article looks into the basics of a healthy lifestyle, why we might forget about them, and how we can bring them back into our daily routines for a better and healthier life.

Healthy Habits for a Longer Life

  1. Choose the Right Foods

    The food you eat plays a big role in how healthy you are. Here are some tips to help you make good food choices.

    • Eat More Fruits and Veggies

      Adding more fruits and veggies to your diet is super important. Aim for a variety of colors, like red, orange, and dark green. Try to include them in every meal—either as a main dish, a side, or even dessert. The more colorful your plate, the more vitamins, minerals, and fiber you'll get, which are all great for your health.

      Sadly, most people in the U.S. aren't eating enough fruits and veggies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about one in 10 adults in the U.S. are eating as many veggies and fruits as they should. Just 10% are getting the recommended two to three cups of veggies a day, and 12% are reaching the target of one-and-a-half to two cups of fruit a day.

      Eating enough fruits and veggies doesn't just give you more nutrients—it can also help you live longer. A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2017 found that people who eat more fruits and veggies have a lower risk of dying from all causes, including heart disease and cancer. You should aim for at least five servings a day. Having more is okay, but in some studies, the risk of death didn't go down any further beyond this amount.

    • Enjoy Nuts and Nut Butters Often

      Nuts are packed with goodness! They have healthy fats, plant protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and important minerals like potassium and magnesium. They're even linked to living longer!

      Research from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute shows that metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, can be improved with nut consumption. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, 5,800 people with metabolic syndrome found that eating more nuts lowered markers like waist size, triglycerides, blood pressure, weight, and BMI. Plus, women saw their good cholesterol (HDL) increase!

      An ounce of nuts is about a quarter cup, but two tablespoons of nut butter also count as a serving. You can mix nut butter into smoothies, stir it into oatmeal, or use it as a dip for fruit or veggies. Add nuts to salads, cooked veggies, and stir-fries, or just eat them as a snack. Crushed nuts are a great substitute for bread crumbs in recipes, or you can bake with nut flours or add them to pancakes for a healthy boost.

    • Choose Healthy Flours

      Choosing healthy flour alternatives can significantly enhance your diet and promote overall well-being:

      • Whole Wheat Flour: This flour has fiber and important nutrients, helping with digestion and keeping your blood sugar in check.
      • Multigrain Atta: It mixes different grains like wheat, oats, barley, and millets, giving you lots of nutrients for a healthy heart and overall well-being.
      • Sorghum Flour: It's full of antioxidants, doesn't have gluten, and helps manage cholesterol while supporting your immune system.
      • Barley Flour: With lots of fiber and fewer calories, barley flour helps you feel full and manage your weight, and it's good for digestion.
      • Bajra Flour: This gluten-free option is high in iron and magnesium, helping with blood pressure and keeping your bones healthy.
      • Almond Flour: It's rich in protein and healthy fats, making it a nutrient-packed choice that's good for your heart and gives you lasting energy.
      • Ragi Flour: This flour is a calcium and amino acid powerhouse, supporting your bones, digestion, and blood sugar levels.
      • Besan Flour: A great source of protein and folate, besan flour is gluten-free and helps boost metabolism while keeping your skin healthy.

  2. Exercise Regularly

    Regular exercise isn't just about feeling good or looking fit – it's also a powerful tool against getting sick or even dying early. A large study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that people who exercised a lot and ate healthy were less likely to die young. Even doing just 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, like going for a brisk walk, could give you 7 extra years of life compared to people who don't exercise much. This was true for everyone, no matter how old they were, whether they were men or women, or if they had health problems already. So, the next time you're thinking about skipping your workout, remember – you're not just doing something good for now, but also investing in your future health.

  3. Avoid Chronic Stress and Anxiety

    Feeling stressed for a long time isn't just not nice; it can take away years from your life. A study published in Nature showed that people who are really stressed a lot have shorter telomeres. Telomeres are like protective caps on our chromosomes that get shorter as we get older. This shortening is connected to a higher chance of getting diseases related to age and dying earlier. But, if you find ways to relax, like through meditation or exercise, you can keep your telomeres healthy and maybe live longer.

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  5. Get Good Sleep

    It's not just about waking up feeling refreshed; getting quality sleep can actually help you live longer. A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that people who consistently have good sleep habits, like getting 7-8 hours, falling asleep easily, and waking up feeling good, have a 24% lower risk of early death compared to those who don't sleep well. So, prioritize those snooze hours – they're not just about catching Zs, they're about adding more years to your life!

  6. Avoid Smoking and Alcohol

    Choosing not to smoke and cutting back on alcohol isn't just about feeling good now; it's an investment in a healthier future. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that smokers typically live 10 years less than nonsmokers. Also, drinking too much alcohol can shorten your life by 9-20 years, depending on how much you drink. The good news is that quitting smoking, even later in life, can significantly increase how long you live, and cutting down on alcohol can decrease the risk of alcohol-related problems and early death. So, when you make these choices, you're not just saying no to short-term pleasures; you're saying yes to a longer, more vibrant life.

  7. Nurture Your Social Circle

    Being around people you care about doesn't just feel nice; it can help you live longer too. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology discovered that folks with strong social connections were 50% less likely to die early compared to those with fewer connections. It's like having your own cheering squad and stress relievers, which helps you stay healthy and happy, adding more years to your life.

Closing Thoughts

Living a long and healthy life isn't rocket science – it's about making simple, sustainable choices every day. By prioritizing good food, exercise, sleep, stress management, and meaningful connections, we can all add more years to our lives and more life to our years. So let's make these habits a priority and embrace the journey to a healthier, longer life together. Cheers to good health and happiness!