The 10 Best Longevity Tips We Learned This Year for Living a Longer, Healthier Life

Photo: Stocksy/Lucas Ottone
If you're ready to make some changes in 2020, we've rounded up the best longevity tips we've learned in the past year. Whether it's adding more chili peppers to your diet, taking enough steps every day, or spending quality time with the people you love, these are the easiest ways to give yourself a fighting chance at a long healthy life.

The 10 best longevity tips to carry you into 2020 and beyond

1. Eat *all* the chili peppers

You might want to bring some spice to your life. A study found eating chili peppers was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, for the people who ate chili peppers regularly, the all-cause mortality risk was 23 percent lower than those who didn't. Upping your intake can be as easy as sprinkling red pepper flakes or chili powder into your food.

2. Do your best to stay positive

Past research has shown being an optimist contributes to "11 to 15 percent longer life span, on average, and to greater odds of achieving ‘exceptional longevity." (Aka, in this case, living to 85 years old or longer.) While it's hard to stay positive all the time, making it your mission to cut down on pessimistic thinking can do you good.

3. Take at least 4,400 steps a day

Taking 10,000 steps a day is kind of the gold standard in terms of health, but that's not always going to happen. So rest assured: Research shows those who took at least 4,400 a day had a 41 percent lower mortality rate than those who took only 2,700 steps. But don't stop there: The benefits only grew up until 7,500 steps, where they plateaued. Also, when you do walk, walk quickly because another study found fast walkers tend to live longer.

4. Eat like Japanese centenarians

The residents of Okinawa, Japan, have the longest life expectancy in the world. Part of that is due to what they're eating, and seven prime foods stand out: bitter melons, tofu, sweet potatoes, turmeric, brown rice, shiitake mushrooms, and seaweed. Make them part of your repertoire for a long, healthy life, too.

5. Try forest bathing

One thing wellness journalist and chef Candice Kumai swears by for longevity is the traditional Japanese custom shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. "Shinrin-yoku is the practice of forest bathing and a way to connect to nature and I try to do that—even if that’s looking at an ocean or a forest,” Kumai says. Spend 10 minutes a day taking a walk, even just around your neighborhood. You don't need an actual forest to reap the benefits.

6. Don't sleep too much or too little

There's definitely a sweet spot when it comes to sleep. Past studies have shown you shouldn't get too much or too little. With that being said, the final conclusion is this: Don't sleep less than six hours per day, and don't sleep more than 10 hours per day, as it can result in a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death. If you stay in the middle at 7 or 8 hours, you'll be better able to keep yourself healthy now and in the future.

If you can't fall back asleep, use these helpful tips:

7. Eat way less sugar

Eating too much sugar can certainly keep your from living a long, healthy life. That's why experts say the key is cutting back, and you can help banish cravings by eating a specific combo. "If you’re physically craving something sweet, my go-to snack is five organic prunes and 10 organic raw almonds, eaten together," says functional medicine doctor Jill Baron, MD. "Prunes have sweetness and many health benefits, including being high in potassium and fiber, as well as having a low glycemic load. And prunes eaten with almonds with give a great antioxidant boost and satisfy a craving for sweets."

8. Focus on your relationships

Many things play into longevity, including your telomeres—the protective DNA caps that are on the ends of your chromosomes. While longer telomeres mean longer "healthspans," shorter telomeres are linked to things like dementia and heart disease. And past research has shown there's a correlation between telomere length and quality relationships. "In older people, having greater levels of social support is associated with longer telomeres," says psychologist Elissa Epel, PhD. That's why Epel says it's so important to spend quality time with the people you love.

9. Clean the house more often

No, this isn't a trick. One study found you only need 30 minutes of physical activity a few times a week to stay healthy, and that included doing housework. "Overall, the more activity a person did, the lower their risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease," says Scott Lear, the study’s lead author.  So get to cleaning and organizing. Your home will be spotless, and you'll stay healthier and live longer because of it.

10. Eat like Italian centenarians

Japanese centenarians aren't the only ones to look to for advice about longevity. Residents of Sardinia are also known for their impressively long lifespans, and they credit a handful of Italian foods as playing a part: barley, fava beans, cannonau wine, olive oil, kohlrabi, potatoes, sourdough bread, and tomatoes.

These are the healthiest foods to eat in the winter, according to a dietitian. Then find out some of the healthiest foods and drinks that came out this year.

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