Your July 2012 Newsletter
Congratulations to Janet Starace,
Name: Stephanie Baskin
Sherry & Paula - Your Fabulous Hygienists
11 Health Habits That Will Help You Live to 100
You don't need to eat yogurt and live on a mountaintop, but you do need to floss.
One of the biggest factors that determine how well you age is not your genes but how well you live. Of course, getting to age 100 is enormously more likely if your parents did, but why shortcut your potential? Assuming you've sidestepped genes for truly fatal diseases, "there's nothing stopping you from living independently well into your 90s," says Thomas Perls, who studies the century-plus set at Boston University School of Medicine. So go ahead and shoot for those triple digits by following these 11 habits.
Don't Retire: "Evidence shows that in societies where people stop working abruptly, the incidence of obesity and chronic disease skyrockets after retirement," says Luigi Ferrucci, director of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. If you do retire, stay active, perhaps by volunteering.
Floss Everyday: It may help keep your arteries healthy. A 2008 New York University study showed that daily flossing reduced the amount of gum-disease-causing bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria are thought to enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation in the arteries, a major risk factor for heart disease.
Move Around: "Exercise is the only real fountain of youth that exists," says Jay Olshansky, a professor of medicine and aging researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Studies show exercise improves your mood, mental acuity, balance, muscle mass, and bones.
Eat a fiber-rich cereal for breakfast: Getting a serving of whole grains, especially in the morning, appears to help older folks maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day. "Those who do this have a lower incidence of diabetes, a known accelerator of aging," he says.
Get at least six hours of sleep: Centenarians make sleep a top priority. "Sleep is one of the most important functions that our body uses to regulate and heal cells," says Ferrucci. "We've calculated that the minimum amount of sleep that older people need to get those healing REM phases is about six hours."
Consume whole foods, not supplements: Research suggests that people who have high blood levels of certain nutrients—selenium, beta-carotene, vitamins C and E—age much better and have a slower rate of cognitive decline. Unfortunately, there's no evidence that taking pills with these nutrients provides those antiaging benefits. Avoid nutrient-lacking white foods and embrace colorful fruits and vegetables, and dark whole-grain breads and cereals.
Be less neurotic: Centenarians don't tend to dwell on problems or internalize things, research suggests. Find better ways to manage your stress. Yoga, exercise, meditation, tai chi, or just deep breathing for a few moments are all good. Ruminating, eating chips in front of the TV, binge drinking? Bad,very bad.
Live like a Seventh Day Adventist: Seventh Day Adventist have an average life expectancy of 89, about a decade longer than the average American. One of the basic tenets of the religion is that it's important to cherish the body that's on loan from God, which means no smoking, alcohol abuse, or overindulging in sweets. Followers typically get plenty of exercise, are vegetarian, and make family and community a focus.
Be a creature of habit: Centenarians tend to live by strict routines, eating the same kind of diet and doing the same kinds of activities their whole lives. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day is another good habit to keep your body in the steady equilibrium that can be easily disrupted as you get on in years. When that equilibrium is thrown off, your immunity can weaken, leaving you more susceptible to circulating flu viruses or bacterial infections.
Stay connected: Having regular social contacts with friends and loved ones is key to avoiding depression, which can lead to premature death. Having a daily connection with a close friend or family member gives older folks the added benefit of having someone watch their back. "They'll tell you if they think your memory is going or if you seem more withdrawn," says Perls, "and they might push you to see a doctor before you recognize that you need to see one yourself."
Be conscientious: The strongest personality predictor of a long life is conscientiousness—that is, being prudent, persistent, and well-organized, according to The Longevity Project, coauthored by Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin. That's likely because conscientious types are more inclined to follow doctors' orders, take the right medicines at the right doses, and undergo routine checkups.
Most of us feel good when we do a nice thing for another person or when we can help someone in need. My wife and I recently had the privilege of seeing how a small contribution made by us led to a huge difference to two dogs on the brink of death. Shortly after making a donation to the The Fetch Foundation we learned of two dogs whose lives were saved because of the efforts of their founder, Marie Peck and volunteer Cheryl Krueger. Cheryl and her mom found Paige and Pickles (see below) abandoned and dying on the side of a highway. Through their efforts, they were able to save both dogs from a sad and tragic end and have provided both dogs with a loving and safe home. It feels good to give, especially when you can see the results.
To learn more about The Fetch Foundation go to www.TheFetchFoundation.com
Dr. Frank Wolf