Through the Looking Glass
Did you know that a glass window filters most of the vitamin D in sunlight? The same reason why you don’t get sunburned inside is the same reason why you are not absorbing as much of nature’s nutrients that you would hope to. Tip one is simple: get outside. Vitamin D plays a huge factor in skin health, depression, heart disease, diabetes and many other things. It is estimated that 50% of adults have low vitamin D levels. Simply getting outside for 15 minutes or more a day and exposing the hands and face to absorb some of that yummy (what is technically a) prohormone will do wonders for the body. If you are elderly, or care for the elderly, it’s especially important to get out and take in those rays. Sunlight also contributes to melatonin levels, which in turn regulates the sleep cycle.
Floss is Boss
Daily flossing will contribute to a longer life expectancy—it sounds weird, but it’s true. Obviously flossing prevents gum disease, but flossing also helps to prevent heart disease as well. When your gums are inflamed it usually means that you have a chronic bacterial infection in your mouth. The bacteria find their way in to your arteries where they hang out and cause plaque. Also, your body mounts an immune response to the bacteria in your mouth, causing inflammation (which in turn can cause your arteries to narrow). This puts a strain on the heart and can lead to heart disease. Doctors who specialize in aging have attributed 1.5-6 extra years on a person’s life expectancy to proper flossing. So get some of that waxy healing string and start living longer.
Hanging Around (Longer)
Another great way to improve life expectancy that most of us already do (to some extent hopefully) is socializing. Just hanging out with friends has an effect on life expectancy, and while doctors are not exactly sure why, relationships seem to play a key role. Perhaps having positive people around you reduces stress (which is a universal trigger for disease and morality) or perhaps it’s that we take care of ourselves when dealing with the opposite sex. Whatever the case, a couple laughs around a good story, or a relaxing night out with friends will have you in a positive mindset and the scientific community has yet to fully discount the power of positive thoughts.
Was it Good for You (and your Life?)
As a corollary to socializing, sex is an important factor in longevity. In fact, one study indicated that frequent orgasm in males showed a 50% reduction in morality. Orgasms, like laughs with friends, are likewise still somewhat of a mystery from a scientific standpoint. It could be that healthy people simply have more sex, but it shouldn’t be overlooked that sex releases a constellation of endorphins, hormones, and consequent mood changes, usually for the better, so it make sense to suspect there may be some wake-the-neighbors secret within the orgasm that promotes better health.
These tips are super easy, even more affordable, and best of all, can be repeated (multiple times) daily with no ill effects! Give your life expectancy the boost you deserve.
A weight gain has become synonymous with midlife, especially since there is a link between menopause and weight gain. It is true that hormones result in weight gain, but only about 2 to 5 pounds. The rest of midlife weight gain comes from overeating, poor lifestyle choices and a lack of exercise. However, a new study suggests that people have great personal control over that weight gain through lifestyle factors such as food choices, TV watching, alcohol intake and quantity of sleep. This study is groundbreaking in that it challenges the belief that weight gain is a simple calories consumed versus calories burned equation. In fact, this study suggests that lifestyle factors and the nutritional content of what food you eat is more important than the amount of calories you consume. This study suggests that a diet rich in some ingredients seemed to reverse weight gain. For example, while a diet high in carbohydrates seems to promote weight gain, a diet rich in nuts seems to be inversely associated with weight gain.
In the study, the average weight gain was 0.8lbs per year. The participants were not obese and were free of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and pulmonary, renal or liver disease and were no older than 65 years. In the analysis, the researchers assigned numerical values to how much a certain lifestyle factor or choice increased weight gain or how much it decreased weight gain. For example, increased consumption in potatoes raised a person’s weight gain to +1.28 lb every four years and increased intake of both “sugar-sweetened beverages” raised a person’s weight gain to +1.00 pound every four years. On the other hand, increased consumption of fruits lead to a decrease of weight of -0.49lb every four years and an increase consumption of nuts led to a decrease of weight of -0.57 every four years. Speaking to the inverse associations with weight gain of some foods (such as fruits and nuts), Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian suggests “an increase in their consumption reduces the intake of other foods to a greater (caloric) extent, decreasing the overall amount of energy consumed.”
The study also examined lifestyle factors and found that with increased alcohol consumption, a person gained +0.41 pounds per year. Increased television watching increased weight gain by +0.31 per four year interval.
Sleep also had interesting results and was characterized by a U-Shaped curve. Weight gain seemed lowest amongst people who slept six to eight hours a night and is highest among those who slept less than 6 hours or more than 8 hours. But Mozaffarian says that he “wouldn’t say that too much sleep is causing weight gain.”
If you are concerned about midlife weight gain, you should think about these three words: mind, mouth, muscle. First off, you should use your mind to control stress instead of using food as a way to alleviate stress. Additionally, the worst thing you can do if something is stressful is stop exercise. In terms of “mouth,” you need to think about what you are putting in your mouth. Choose whole foods, fruits, and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. You should be eating frequently and you need to know how many calories you should consume. An average woman in her 40s or 50s needs about 1500 to 1600 calories, while an average man needs between 1800 to 2000 calories.
The conclusions of this study are telling. Small changes in diet and lifestyle can make a big difference, for bad or for good. It’s important to pay attention to the small changes because midlife weight gain usually happens gradually.