The findings come from a study that tracked close to 5,000 British adults for 20 years. Over the course of the study, 29 percent of the people with all four unhealthy behaviors died. Only 8 percent died among the people with none of the four habits.
USA Today notes that:
“The findings don't mean that everyone who maintains a healthy lifestyle will live longer than those who don't, but it will increase the odds.”
The fact that an unhealthy lifestyle can age you prematurely is not exactly earth-shattering news … especially for you regular readers. But there are two tidbits revealed by this study that just might make your jaw drop to the floor.
Eating poorly, not exercising, drinking too much and smoking does not just age you a little bit -- it ages you by more than a decade. For many, the motivation to live a cleaner life often doesn’t occur until a health issue sets in, but the fact that you may be able to pass as being in your late 40s when you’re actually in your early 60s may help give you that added incentive you’re looking for.
It should be mentioned, too, that those in this unhealthy group were also more likely to die during the study. The most common causes of death? Cancer and heart disease, which are both often related to lifestyle habits.
Small Healthy Steps Lead to Major Benefits
Secondly, and this is really amazing, the people who counted as “healthy” in this study (and were the ones who reaped the benefits of seeming 12 years younger and lowering their death risk) were really just scraping by according to most “health” standards.
Here’s what I mean … to be in the “healthy” category, participants had to:
- Exercise at least two to four hours a week
- Eat vegetables and fruits three times a day or more (the lead researcher mentioned that consuming one carrot, one apple and a glass of juice would suffice but this is obviously far less than optimal!)
- Not smoke, or have quit smoking
- Have fewer than two drinks a day for women, and fewer than three a day for men
These are far from extreme healthy measures. In fact, they are steps that virtually everyone should be able to achieve, especially the first two!
What I want everyone reading this to realize is that by making even small positive changes to your exercise routine and diet, you may be able to drastically alter your health.
This should be especially motivating for those of you who are just starting out and perhaps feel overwhelmed by making healthier choices. Every step you take is a positive one, even if it seems small.
In fact, I encourage you to start out slowly. This is why my Nutrition Plan is divided into three stages, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced, and walks you through to a healthier lifestyle one small step at a time.
Many are not aware that I have compiled a very comprehensive guide on how you can change your diet. If you haven’t reviewed my Nutrition Plan, I would strongly encourage you to schedule some time to study it and reflect on how you can adjust your food choices based on the recommendations I provide.
Now, bear with me here for another minute … imagine if you are eating healthy on a daily basis. And when I say eating healthy, I mean choosing foods that:
- Correspond to your nutritional type
- Are unprocessed whole foods
- Are often raw or only lightly cooked
- Come from high-quality, local sources
- Are organic or grass-fed, and free from additives and genetically modified ingredients
Add to that a regular exercise program, one that challenges your body on a nearly daily basis, or at least far more than just two hours a week, along with eliminating or reducing alcohol to a very occasional basis...
Just imagine the health benefits you will reap!
If You Want to Stay Young, Here’s What You Need to Do
Americans spend dizzying amounts of money on creams, gadgets, surgeries and other do-dads to look and feel younger.
But the reality is that more than any pill or medical “treatment,” your lifestyle is what will determine your level of health now and in the years to come.
It was the ancient Roman poet Martial, wise beyond his time, who first said:
“Life’s not just being alive, but being well.”
This is still true today, many centuries later. Your health is a gift that cannot be bought, and once it’s lost it may be impossible to get back.
So I urge you to start taking steps today – again, even small ones – to make your lifestyle a little bit healthier. Whether you realize it yet or not, you have at your disposal numerous methods to influence your physical and mental well-being, and ultimately take control of your health.
I can tell you from personal experience that a healthy lifestyle works! Just look at Jack LaLanne at age 93! Now there is a glowing testimony to how exercise and optimal nutrition can help preserve you.
The choices you make on a daily basis truly influence just about every disease known to man, and probably more than handful of those yet to be discovered! They can also make your energy levels rise or plummet, make your mood sunny or dark, and either nourish your body or slowly destroy it.
The choice is yours!
My Personal Tips to Help You Look Younger
At the start of the New Year in 2010, I detailed my top healthy lifestyle changes that would make this year your best one yet. I urge you to revisit these now, or view them for the first time if you haven’t, and start leading a lifestyle of health and wellness.
- Learn How to Effectively Cope With Stress
- Get Optimal Exposure to Sunlight
- Eat a Healthy Diet That’s Right for Your Nutritional Type
- Eat Plenty of Raw Food
- Optimize Your Insulin and Leptin Levels
- Sleep better
- Lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight, depending on your needs
- Improve your resistance to fight infections
- Lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes
- Help your brain work better, making you smarter
- Consume Healthy Fat
- Limit Your Exposure to Toxins
- Make Pure Water Your Primary Beverage
- Get Plenty of Quality Sleep
In my past experience treating patients with serious chronic illnesses, the vast majority have previous emotional stress that contributed to their problem. And for most of the serious illnesses, the trauma stems back to their childhood.
But according to at least one recent study, it doesn’t take serious trauma to cause these changes. Even normal “everyday” emotional experiences can have a detrimental impact on your future health.
Meditation, prayer, physical activity and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium. I also strongly believe in using tools such as the Meridian Tapping Technique (MTT) to address deeper, oftentimes hidden emotional problems.
Vitamin D, often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin,” is different from other vitamins in that it influences your entire body. Vitamin D receptors have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones, so its power to optimize your health is truly great.
Please remember that vitamin D will optimize over 2,000-3,000 genes in your body or 10 percent of your total genes!
Studies have shown you can decrease your risk of cancer by MORE THAN HALF and lower your risk of many other common diseases simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with sun exposure.
My nutrition plan, based on natural whole foods, is your first step toward increasing your chances of living a longer, healthier life. The heart of my program is the elimination, or at the very least, drastic reduction of grains and sugar in your diet, while focusing on the foods that are right for your unique biochemistry.
One of the most important aspects of a healthy diet that is most frequently overlooked is the issue of eating your food uncooked, in its natural raw state.
Unfortunately, as you may be aware, over 90 percent of the food purchased by Americans is processed. And when you’re consuming these kinds of denatured and chemically altered foods, it’s no surprise we have an epidemic of chronic and degenerative diseases.
Ideally you’ll want to eat as many foods as possible in their unprocessed state; typically organic, biodynamic foods that have been grown locally, and are therefore in season.
But even when you choose the best foods available you can destroy most of the nutrition if you cook them. I believe it’s really wise to strive to get as much raw food in your diet as possible. I personally try to eat about 80 percent of my food raw, including raw eggs and meats.
Eating sugar and grains will increase your insulin level, which is one of the fastest ways to premature aging. Leptin is another heavyweight hormone associated with the aging process.
Like your insulin levels, if your leptin levels become elevated, your body systems will develop a resistance to this hormone, which will wreak havoc in your body.
Ron Rosedale, MD, who is one of the leading experts on leptin, does an excellent job of explaining the links between insulin, leptin, your weight and your overall health, and has done so in numerous articles posted on my site.
Your diet, as discussed in steps three and four above, is the key to maintaining the balance of these two hormones.
The benefits of exercise are staggering, and if you think you can achieve or maintain optimal health without it, you’re deceiving yourself. For example, it helps you to:
If you’ve fallen off the exercise wagon, watch my Primary Principles of Exercise video to get back on track.
The science is loud and clear on this point: omega-3 fats are essential for optimal health.
The omega-3 found naturally in fish and seafood is high in two fatty acids crucial to human health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. Your brain is also highly dependent on DHA -- low DHA levels have been linked to depression, schizophrenia, memory loss, and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's.
Unfortunately most fish commercially available today (even wild-caught varieties) are polluted with mercury, PCBs and other toxic substances, which is why I recommend you take a supplement like krill oil instead of getting it from your food.
The number of toxic chemicals and their sources is so large, addressing them all could easily require an entire library, but I believe you can help you keep your toxic load as low as possible by becoming an informed and vigilant consumer.
This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
For a review of some of the most common sources of household dangers, I suggest you review this previous article, or search my site for any number of different toxins by name.
Every day your body loses water through urine and sweat, and needs to be replenished. You can actually survive without food for months, but without water you’d die after a few days, so needless to say, water is absolutely essential to life.
You can easily tell what your water requirement is by using your thirst and the color of your urine as guides. Your urine should be a very light-colored yellow. If it is a deep, dark yellow then you are likely not drinking enough water.
Further, if you are healthy, then drinking whenever you feel thirsty should be an adequate guide of how much water you need. You can confirm that you are drinking enough water by looking at the color of your urine, as mentioned above.
As for obtaining clean, pure water, installing a water filter in your home is your best bet. For the latest recommendations on the methods that work best to remove impurities and toxic byproducts caused by water chlorination from your tap water, please review this previous article, Tap Water Toxins—Discover Your Three Best Solutions, Straight From the Experts.
Scientists have discovered that your circadian rhythms regulate the energy levels in your cells. In addition, the proteins involved with your circadian rhythm and metabolism are intrinsically linked and dependent upon each other.
Therefore, when your circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can have a profound influence on your physical health. For example, research has also linked disrupted sleep cycles to serious health problems like depression, coronary heart diseases, and even cancer.
If you have any kind of sleep problem, whether you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, my article 33 Secrets to a Good Night's Sleep is packed with great tips to help you finally get some good rest.
Remember, it’s never too late to wipe the slate clean and begin anew. Make today the day that you start making your life, your mind, and your body the best that they can be.