want to have the longest, healthiest life possible, you should
never have lit that first cigarette. Never tasted that first
cheese fry. Never stepped foot inside a fast-food restaurant
or driven somewhere you could have walked. Never turned up
your nose at vegetables or let yourself get those nasty
did, take heart. Thereís still plenty you can do to add
years to your life.
things I would say are common-sense things, things you were
taught in first grade," says Dr. David Johnson, chair of
the department of internal medicine at the University of Texas
Southwestern Medical Center. "You donít have to go to
medical school to figure out things are bad for you like
smoking, being a sloth."
listen up. These 10 ways are easy and have more significance
than most of us realize. Truth to tell, Johnson says,
"Collectively, even if they donít let you live longer,
they allow you to live more healthily in a much more
psychologically satisfying life."
not just to remove spinach remnants from dinner. Flossing
removes plaque, the bacterial film that forms along your gum
line. Get rid of bacteria, and you lessen your chances of
heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimerís disease and
some forms of cancer, says Dr. Larry Korenman of Loveable
Smiles in Richardson.
bacteria can create proteins that are found in artery walls
and in the bloodstream," he says, "causing blood to
clot more easily. Infection in the mouth can cause its own
small blood clots, which can enter the bloodstream."
added? More than six if you floss daily (which only 5
percent to 10 percent of Americans do), writes Dr. Michael
Roizen in RealAge.
2. Get a
a great test," says Radhika Vayani, an internal medicine
doctor of osteopathy at the University of North Texas Health
Science Center in Fort Worth. "The 24-hour prep is the
worst. You basically drink nasty stuff, and you have diarrhea.
But you wonít feel the procedure. If they see a polyp, they
get rid of it right then and there. That could save you from
having colon cancer in five years."
added? Lots. Nine out of 10 people whose colon cancer is
discovered early will still be alive in 10 years, according to
the American Cancer Society. Many will live a normal lifespan.
eating before youíre full
Americans eat and eat "till weíre so full weíre about
to be sick," says Vayani. "But it takes the body 15
to 20 minutes to say, ĎYouíre full.í"
added? Being 100 pounds overweight can subtract a decade
from your life, according to an Oxford University study. So it
stands to reason that maintaining a healthy weight and thus
reducing your risk for diabetes, heart disease and various
other unpleasantries would add at least some precious time to
Centers for Disease Control study, only 32 percent of adults
reported usually applying sunscreen. Yet this year in the
U.S., 3.5 million people will get skin cancer and 76,000
more will develop melanoma, says the American Cancer Society.
Every hour, someone will die from that deadliest form.
added? Possibly 20. The CDC study reported that someone
who died of melanoma between 2000 and 2006 died two decades
prematurely. Although the sun doesnít cause all melanomas,
it does cause most. So slather on more sunscreen than you
think you need to, more often than you think necessary.
despite years and years of evidence proving all the nasty
stuff it causes, "tons of people smoke," Vayani
added? "If you quit at age 30, you can increase your
life by 10 years," she says. Quit at 40? Add nine years.
50? Six years. 60? Three.
getting enough has been linked to memory problems, hearing
problems, anger, high blood pressure, stroke, depression,
vehicle accidents and obesity. A decades-long international
study of 1.3 million people found "unequivocal evidence
of the direct link" between lack of sleep and premature
death, according to sleepbetter.org.
added? Hard to say, but if someone died in a car accident
caused by sleep deprivation, for instance, thatís probably
has been demonstrated over and over to be useful,"
Johnson says. "Truth is, any level is of value."
Walking, he says "gets you outside, and some outside is
good as long as you donít overdo it. The best way to get
Vitamin D is sunshine."
added? At least three years. Thatís the number from a
study reported in The Lancet for people who
exercised even 15 minutes a day. Put another way, a story on
WBUR-FM, Bostonís public radio station, reported that every
minute you exercise adds seven minutes to your life.
abound. Among them: Eating five or more servings per day ó
instead of a piddly three or fewer ó reduces your risk of
stroke by 26 percent, according to a study reported
in Menís Health.
added? Webmd.com reports that Seventh-day Adventists, who
typically follow a vegetarian diet, outlive those who donít
by three to seven years.
Cultivate healthy relationships
time with family and friends is "psychologically
helpful," Johnson says, adding that it "isnít a
cure-all; it wonít counteract a McDonaldís
tells patients, "If you have people in your life who are
negative, who are pulling you down, you have to get rid of
that relationship. It affects you more than you realize."
added? Nothing specific, but "studies have shown
that people with more friends and people in healthy
relationships live longer," she says.
experience great things all day long that we fail to
acknowledge," Johnson says. "I donít want to sound
new wave-y, but our health is more than just physical health.
I see dozens of people who have illnesses that would lay you
or me low, but they seem totally happy. How in the Sam Hill
can that be? Theyíve chosen to look at the good instead of
added? Maybe some, maybe none. "Even if I donít
live a long time," Johnson says, "Iím happy with
what I experience."