It's a question we've all asked ourselves at least once – how long can I live if I am healthy?
What do you even mean by healthy living? Maybe you're considering an organic diet or want to improve your hygiene or sleeping habits. Whatever your reasons, the truth is that making smart and informed choices about what makes a healthy living can help you reach new heights of health and wellbeing.
We have done some research on this one because the hype behind "healthy living" is always high, but yet its high time that we know what it is and where you draw that line from whats considered unhealthy.
Some important research and examples of healthy living are included here to confirm that a healthy diet makes the difference.
Example 1: The Okinawans
First on our list is Okinawa in Japan, one of the world's Blue Zones.
Usually, Asians are well known for their long, healthy, and happy lives due to their lifestyle - diet, values, approach to life, etc.
Studies have found that for every 100,000 persons in Okinawa, there are about 68 centenarians who live this long due to their mindfulness and awareness when eating.
For example, Okinawans practice the "everything in moderation" (Hara Hachi bu)rule. They believe that everything should be moderate, and this reflects in their diet. As such, they stop eating when they are 80% full.
You probably wonder, "How do I know when I'm 80% full?"
Research shows that your brain doesn't register that your stomach is full until about 20 minutes after eating. But Okinawans eat slowly to know when they are moderately full, so they can stop eating.
Example 2: A 2018 Harvard Study
A group of scientists and researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 2018 conducted a study and found five healthy habits that could increase life expectancy for men by 12 years and women by 14 years if adopted.
These healthy habits include;
- No smoking
- Limiting alcohol intake to a drink per day for women and two for men
- Eating a high-plant and low-fat diet
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Exercising for several hours a week
The research group didn't stop there. They extended their research to determine how many years were disease-free.
After all, there's no point living long if those years are ridden with diseases and illness.
And guess what they found? A healthy lifestyle helps you live longer and ensures those years are more disease-free.
According to Dr. Frank Hu, the senior author of the research paper and also currently chairs the department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Health, "It's important to look at disease-free life expectancy because that has important implications in terms of improving quality of life and reducing overall health care costs.”
“Extending lifespan is insufficient; we want to extend health span, so the longer life expectancy is healthy and free of major chronic diseases and disabilities associated with those diseases.”
We have shown you can live as long as possible if you eat the right foods with mindfulness. For example, the Okinawans live up to 100 and beyond.
That said, how can you live long and healthy?
What are the 4 Components of Healthy Living?Eat a healthy diet
The Okinawans' diet is mainly plant-based, with low amounts of healthy fat. The first step in living long and healthy is to ensure your diet has many plant-based foods, fruits, and vegetables - legumes, whole grains, nuts, different kinds of fruits in seasons, veggies, etc.
Asides eating high plant-based meals, watch your salt and sugar intake. High amounts of sodium in the blood increase the risk of high blood pressure, while excessive sugar can lead to unhealthy weight gain and tooth decay.
Incorporating healthy doze of spices with proven health benefits adds taste to your bland meal and boosts your immunity and good health in overall.Consume alcohol moderately
If you can, you should avoid alcohol altogether, except if the doctor prescribes it for your health. Consuming unhealthy amounts of alcohol increases the risk of noncommunicable diseases such as mental disorders, cancer, heart disease, etc. Besides, it can lead to physical harm such as accidents, clashes, injuries, etc.No smoking
The results of smoking aren't pleasant. If it's not death, it's a serious health disease that makes life unbearable. Studies find that smoking causes heart disease, cancer, diabetes, lung disease, etc. It also increases the risk of eye diseases and some immune system problems.
Smoking is so dangerous that even non-smokers are affected. Secondhand exposure to smoking causes respiratory diseases in children and heart diseases in adults.
Altogether, it's best to avoid smoking or exposure to smoking if you want to live long and healthy.Exercise regularly
Every week, ensure you engage in any physical activity that makes you burn calories. Besides helping you maintain a healthy weight, exercise has other physical and mental benefits. For example, practice enables you to strengthen strong muscles and bones. It increases your energy levels. If you are usually fatigued, try exercising regularly during the week.
Additionally, exercise improves your brain health and sleep quality. If you have a sleep disorder, training is one of your best options for dealing with it.Get enough sleep
Averagely, an adult needs about 7-8 hours of regular sleep each night to maintain good health. It's not enough to sleep for the required hours; it's also important to maintain a regular sleep schedule. The benefits of getting enough sleep include maintaining a healthy weight, reducing risks of sicknesses and stress, keeping your head and mind clear, etc.
If you have trouble sleeping, reschedule your activities to happen during the day and block your nights for rest. Ensure your bedroom is comfortable; you can consider changing the lights or using sleep-lulling scents, etc. Finally, create a sleep routine and stick to it.Watch your mental health.
Healthy and long living isn't restricted to eating healthy diets, exercising regularly, and limiting alcohol intake; it also entails ensuring your mental health is in top shape. Do away with anything or anyone that damages your mental health. Avoid stress as much as you can and get enough rest. Eliminate worries from your lifestyle. Fears don't make things better; it only deteriorates your health.
Instead, think about how you can improve, and things around you will respond sooner or later. Build robust support systems that you can rely on when things get tough.
You don't have to fall into the age bracket of people with low life expectancies. Ultimately, healthy living is an important part of a balanced lifestyle. It involves exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet, getting enough sleep, and taking time for yourself. It is important to remember that everyone has different needs when achieving successful healthy living.
Your routine may involve other components than someone else's; however, by committing to staying active, consuming nutritious foods, and finding ways to de-stress, you can experience the full benefits of this lifestyle. So don’t forget to take the time needed for yourself and prioritize healthy living in your daily life.
If you want to learn more about healthy living with healthy eating, check out our blog posts here!
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