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25 Ways To Live Longer


National nutrition and weight management expert Alan Jackson explains twenty-five ways that we can all live longer and healthier...


“Frame your mind to mirth and merriment, which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life.” From, Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew written in 1592, has stood the test of time. So much so that it was reiterated by Charles Dickens when in 1841 he said: “Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers and are famous preservers of youthful looks.” So wise up and have a laugh!


Epidemiological studies have firmly established that those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol outlive and have less disease than those that drink none at all, or those that drink to excess (a J shaped curve). These studies are independent of the benefits of red wine which is rich in a compound called resveratrol - a powerful antioxidant that disarms those nasty free radicals – so cheers!


Eat colourful plant foods as the colours signify a myriad of highly potent antioxidants. Orange fruits and vegetables are full of carotenoids, blue and purples are packed with anthocyanins thought to be some of the most powerful antioxidants to the human body. Whites contain compounds known as the Allyls and anthocyanins. Yellow flavanoids are uber potent in protecting cells. Chlorophylls are generally green (peppers, brassica, leafy green plants) and their health properties are legendary. Eat colour!


Avoid too much sun exposure. The harmful UV radiation produces free radical damage under the skin unleashing trillions of charged particles that relentlessly attack the cells in our body. Obviously the skin is the major organ attacked and it is sobering to think that one American dies of skin cancer every hour.


Don’t smoke; I mean really don’t do it to yourself - or those around you!


If you don’t eat a lot of fish, a daily dose of omega 3 (fish oil) is perhaps the best dietary supplement that you can take. Excellent general anti-inflammatory, good for maintaining cardiac rhythm, nourishing brain and central nervous system and keeping it in good order, essential for the eyes and helps keep blood lipids balanced as well as controlling blood pressure. Most of the above are conditions that put the majority of us in an early grave – or carted off in the van with the square wheels!


Maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity is the second most deleterious lifestyle stress on the body next to smoking. Obesity is responsible for 80% of type 2 diabetes which itself is a major contributor to deaths from cardiovascular disease. In Britain, one in every eleven deaths is now attributable to obesity and it is set to overtake smoking as the number one preventable cause of premature death.


Get a partner. Couples outperform single people every time in the longevity stakes. Men seem to fare particularly badly if on their own, and being a single male can shorten your life in comparison to someone with a partner by up to five years. The explanation may be that married people take fewer health risks and have better mental and emotional health. Social and material support, such as mopping your fevered brow when you have a hangover, appear to be important factors in the diamond life stakes.


Positive mental attitude. We don’t understand the power of thought and the link between mind and body. An eminent French doctor who reached the peak of his career as chief surgeon switched trade and spent a further 20 more grueling years to become France’s most noted psychologist. He conflated his 50 years in both physical and mental health in one brilliant sentence: “The body is such a delicate thing, that even a thought can damage it.”


Limit your sugar consumption. Sugar is now emerging as public nutrient enemy number one. Linked to most degenerative illnesses that are responsible for the vast majority of premature deaths (cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer) sugar is now also being implicated as an addictive compound that interferes with brain reward circuitry in the same way that opiates, alcohol and nicotine do. Start a sugar reduction plan.


Half an hour of moderate intensity physical activity (PA) each day as a minimum is vital to maintain adequate functioning of our bodily systems namely: metabolic health, blood pressure, lipid profile, glycaemic control (blood sugars), skeletal health, immune system, mental health and psychological wellbeing, vascular system and a healthy heart. Regular PA is necessary for maintaining adequate muscle mass and flexibility into old age to ward off frailty, which leads to loss of independence, lower quality of life, possible isolation and loneliness; without doubt the most tragic aspect of old age.


Sitting is toxic, try to avoid long periods of sitting which leads to a general decline in bodily systems and general health.


Eat a balanced diet – you knew it was coming! What does it mean? Well you need 15 minerals, 14 vitamin (groups), omega 3 and 6 fats, a balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat, fibre, water and a multitude of phytochemicals (plant compounds) that will support and protect the body. Look at it this way, from the moment of conception nature is creating and maintaining the highest living order organism in the known universe; it can’t do it using just KFC and doughnuts!


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