Tips and Tricks to Living Longer

My top 5 tips to helping you live a happier, healthier and longer life.

Globally, the average life-expectancy is between 71 to 72 years of age — for some, it may even exceed 100 years. However, aging is, unfortunately, something that is inevitable and cannot be reversed. As we get older, we will develop things like wrinkles, grey hair, general body aches and pains (including sore bones, muscles and joints), loss of vigour, increased risk of disease, and decreased cognitive abilities. That being said, there are certain things that you can do in order to improve your quality of life and prolong the amount of time that you get to spend on this earth, surrounded by friends, family, and doing the things you love. Below are my top 5 tips and tricks to helping you live a healthier, longer life.

We’ve all experienced stress and/or anxiety at some point in our lives — whether it be for minor or major reasons. We can experience stress and anxiety when we’re busy at work or have deadlines to meet for school projects (or having to study for exams), when too many expectations are put on us from others, from past trauma, relationships (such as marriage/divorce), and even financial obligations. We can also experience stress and anxiety simply by knowing that we’re getting older. But what you might not know is that allowing yourself to feel stressed or anxious can actually speed up the aging process, as well as cause a wide range of other health issues, so it’s something that you should try to avoid if possible. While it may be difficult, you need to accept the fact that aging is something you will experience and remind yourself that you’re not alone in it, as it happens to all of us. Also try to remind yourself that aging isn’t something that has to define you and think of it as more of a number than anything else. After all, many people say that they don’t actually feel as old as they are. The less stressed and anxious you are about aging and things in general, the better. Meditation is another thing you can try to calm the mind. If you can’t find relief from stress or anxiety on your own, you might need to ask for help from a physician, and that’s okay too. He or she will be able to give you advice on how to cope with everyday stress, as well as prescribe you anti-anxiety medication if necessary.

Another great way to relieve stress and anxiety is through physical activity, as exercise has been proven to have the ability to boost the mood. It can also improve your overall quality of life. In fact, the more active that you are throughout your life, the longer you will live. Exercise can also reduce the risk of age-related health problems, such as arthritis, immobility, loss of muscle mass, and heart disease — and, of course, also helps you to maintain a healthy weight. If you’re someone who isn’t used to exercise or if you don’t get a lot of it, it’s never too late to start, as it doesn’t take much. I recommend getting at least 30 minutes of some type of physical activity each day.

As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” In fact, your diet is one of the most important factors in living a long and healthy life, as the foods you consume can have a significant effect on preventing chronic disease. To make sure you live as long and as healthy of a life as possible, you need to eat nutrient-dense foods. Some of the best include leafy, green vegetables such as kale, collard greens, arugula, bok choy, and broccoli. Tip: Chopping up these vegetables can activate their potent anti-cancer effects. Beans are also something you should include in your diet, as they are high in soluble fibre, which can help to prevent high cholesterol. They can also help stabilize blood sugar, and if consumed at least twice a week can decrease the risk of colon cancer by as much as 50%, as well as decrease the risk of other types of cancer including stomach, kidney, and oral cancer. Mushrooms also have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Berries are also considered some of the best fruits you can eat (such as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries) as they have a number of health benefits, such as lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes, decreasing inflammation, and reducing the risk of cancer. Seeds and nuts can also be great to incorporate in meals or snacks on as they’re rich in vitamins and minerals, omega-3s, and antioxidants. If you’re not getting enough essential vitamins and minerals that you need from the foods you eat, I also recommend that you consider taking a multivitamin.

One of the worst habits associated with aging is smoking. Not only does it do a number on your internal organs (the lungs, for example, with smoking being the number one cause of lung cancer), but smoking will also make you look older. When you smoke, you deprive the skin of the oxygen and nutrients that it needs, which can cause your skin to appear uneven in colour or even pale. Cigarettes also contain a staggering number of harmful chemicals that can cause the skin to sag or deepen the appearance of wrinkles. People who smoke are also more prone to developing gum disease, as well as damage to the teeth (such as discolouration), and build-up of plaque or tartar. Smokers also tend to lose more teeth than those who are not smokers. As we age, our hair also gets thinner. However, if you’re a smoker this is a process that can occur much earlier in life. Smoking can even cause baldness. Because smoking is considered to be an addiction, quitting isn’t always easy, but I have put together some smoking cessation tips that you might find helpful here. If you want to quit smoking but don’t know where to begin, don’t hesitate to reach out to your family physician for advice.

Having social ties and staying in communication with people you know is just as important as eating healthy, exercising, and staying stress-free. Parents should encourage their children to build strong bonds and friendships at an early age, as this will help to build social skills and prepare them for interactions as they grow into their teenage and adult years. Having a good social network can also make you feel happier, while social isolation has been linked to things like increased body inflammation and depression.

Originally published at on December 5, 2018.

Dr. Ali Ghahary is a Family Physician in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.