If you’ve ever Googled the question: “what’s the secret to a long and healthy life?”, you’ve likely come across a slew of advice on eating a low-calorie diet, reducing stress, exercising, taking certain supplements and getting enough sleep.
And while these popular tips can certainly help you maintain your health and extend your life, there are other proven “longevity secrets” not many people know about.
What’s more, these lesser-known life extenders don’t require major lifestyle changes and are actually fun and easy to incorporate into your life.
Let’s dive in with the 3 Surprising Secrets to Living Longer (while having more fun).
Longevity Secret #1: Socialize often, with real people, preferably offline
While many of us equate long life with healthy eating, exercise and a bit of luck, new research has revealed our social lives have a sizable impact on longevity.
For example despite the boom of social media, loneliness and social isolation are now considered major contributors to heart disease—a leading causes of death worldwide[note]https://heart.bmj.com/content/early/2016/03/15/heartjnl-2015-308790[/note].
And a recent study of over 309,000 people found that lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50%[note]http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316[/note]!
Research has shown some of health benefits of being part of a strong community include[note]https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-mild-cognitive-impairment/201606/the-health-benefits-socializing[/note],[note]https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170502084136.htm[/note]:
- Protection against depression
- Enhanced immunity
- Better brain health
- Lower risk of dementia
- And less stress
Plus, exciting new research shows when older people connect regularly with younger people it enhances their physical and brain health[note]https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/talk-to-teens-live-longer/[/note].
Hence, programs aimed at connecting youth with seniors are on the rise across the country.
But how you connect matters.
Face-to-face connections are still considered the “gold standard” for whole health benefits, but phone calls can also do wonders and even social media has its place—so long as it’s used right.
For best results with social media, we typically recommend our clients use online resources (like Meetup, Facebook, etc.) to find groups and events in which to make offline connections.
Longevity Secret #2: Drink some, but not too much, of the right wine
It’s no secret that red wine contains protective nutrients, such as antioxidants and polyphenols, which protect our cells from the effects of aging.
But, just like with the nutrients in foods, the quality of wine you take in may have a significant bearing on its health and longevity benefits.
For example, many commercial wines contain a slew of toxic preservatives, sugar, dyes, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, molds and other ingredients which are counter-productive to creating health and longevity.
Yet, extensive study and reporting has been done on the health benefits of red wine consumption in centenarians across the world.
So, should you drink red wine to live longer…or not?
The majority of experts will tell you a glass of wine a day can be beneficial—especially if it’s enjoyed in the company of friends and loved ones.
And a recent study conducted by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that light to moderate alcohol consumption, such as one glass of wine a day, can lengthen your life[note]https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/journal-scans/2017/08/14/15/34/relationship-of-alcohol-consumption-to-all-cause?w_nav=LC[/note].
However, if you find wine affects you negatively (causing headaches, sleeplessness, fatigue, hormonal fluxes, etc.) then you may want to skip it.
Or talk to your practitioner or Health Coach about trying wines made from organic and/or biodynamic grapes and small vineyards.
Many integrative health experts are partial to the vintages from Dry Farm Wines, because they use organic grapes and test all their wines for the types of toxins that cause unpleasant side-effects.
And of course, if you have a history of alcoholism be sure to pass on the wine.
Longevity Secret #3: Take spirituality seriously
There has long been a proven connection between the health of body and mind, but there are also proven health and longevity benefits that come from a healthy spiritual life.
And that doesn’t have to mean following a certain religion or belief system.
If you are religious, you’ll be pleased to know research has shown that attending church services can reduce your risk of an early death up to 55%[note]http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177618[/note].
But, spirituality and its health benefits, come in many forms. And researchers believe the longevity benefits of regular spiritual practice is not necessarily exclusive to church-goers.
Mindfulness meditation, for example, has been shown to increase an enzyme associated with longevity and anti-aging [note]http://healthland.time.com/2010/12/23/could-meditation-extend-life-intriguing-possibility-raised-by-new-study/[/note]and time outdoors in nature has been long-known to improve health and feed the spirit.
And scientists believe that even regular weekly social gatherings with like-minded friends may have the same longevity benefits as attending weekly religious gatherings[note]https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/attending-religious-services-linked-to-longer-lives-study-shows[/note].
Bottom line: as you nurture your spirit you also nurture your lifespan.
Have you noticed a common thread throughout these 3 longevity secrets?
They all revolve around building solid social structures, or “communities”.
In the centenarian studies, the researchers believed that the health benefits of wine came largely from enjoying it with groups of friends and family.
Likewise, as researchers in the study cited above on the longevity benefits of attending weekly religious services stated, they believed the phenomenon was largely due to the social support aspects of regular, weekly interactions…be they religious-based or not.
It’s been said community, not medicine, creates health.
We believe when it comes to longevity it takes a bit of both.
Which means, the biggest secret to living longer may very well be to spend more time building community with people you care about.
Simple as that.
Cheers to the KNEW community,
-The Knew Health Team