The secret to a long and healthy life

To increase longevity, experts suggest increasing vegetable consumption, exercising, reducing red and processed meat consumption, getting enough sleep and taking care of mental health.

After two years of the pandemic, many people are scrambling to find ways to improve their health and reduce their risk of illness, hoping to live longer, healthier lives as they age. Thanks to advances in modern medicine, life expectancy in developed countries has increased for decades.

According to the latest World Bank data, Hong Kong women and men have the longest life expectancies in the world, at 88 years and 82 years respectively.

Many people believe that a person’s lifespan depends entirely on genetic factors. However, many experts believe that this is not true. Base on the research Classic Twins of Denmark, performed on more than 2,800 sets of twins between 1870 and 1900, genetics determines only about 20% of life expectancy. The remaining 80% are environmental and lifestyle factors.

Scientists have combined many studies and pointed out 4 habits that can make a person live longer.

Eat more vegetables, less meat

A study from Norway found that switching from a regular diet to a low-carbohydrate, low-fat diet from the age of 20 increased life expectancy by 10 years for both women and men. The most effective way is to eat more beans, whole grains, nuts, and limit red and processed meat.

Experts also say that switching to eating more vegetables and less meat from the age of 60 can increase life expectancy by eight years for women and 8.8 years for men. 80-year-olds who started eating this diet lived about 3.4 years longer, according to a University of Bergen study published in February in the journal PLoS Medicine.

Consuming whole foods can reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease, reduce mortality, and in turn increase life expectancy, says Jennifer Paul, dietitian at the American Health Commission. Dr. Washington said.

“Foods like beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals, low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol-free. Besides nuts, whole foods are also low in fat,” says Paul.

Nuts are higher in fat, which are healthy unsaturated fats, plant sterols, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. They promote health, promote digestion, lose weight and prevent weight loss. cancer prevention.

In contrast, meat has saturated fat, iron, cholesterol and animal protein, low fiber content dangerous to health. In particular, red and processed meat can cause cancer. The World Health Organization has classified processed meat as “Group 1, carcinogenic”. Red meat is classified as “Group 2, possibly carcinogenic” in humans.

“Eating processed meat, red meat and poultry also increases the risk of heart disease. Experts found that consuming 50g of processed meat and red meat per day increased the risk of cardiovascular disease by 5 ounces, respectively. 18% and 9%. Consumption of red meat and processed meat also increases the risk of type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Paul. She encourages each person to eat a few vegetarian meals a week, in order to reduce meat consumption.

Experts recommend increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruits, limiting the consumption of red meat to reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Image: SCMP

Sleep on time and don’t nap for too long

Getting enough sleep each night boosts immune system health, reduces stress, and improves overall health. When people don’t get enough sleep, the body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol, says Dr. Kenny Pang, an otolaryngologist at the Asian Sleep Center in Singapore. Too much cortisol increases the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Stress can affect a person’s ability to sleep, prolonging unhealthy cycles. “One study found that chronic sleep deprivation can lead to serious diseases such as obesity, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease,” said Pang.

A meta-analysis of three large studies found that people who slept less than 7 hours a night had higher rates of chronic disease and a lower life expectancy. The British Whitehall II study found that people who slept less than 5 hours a night had twice the rate of cardiovascular disease than normal. According to Mr. Pang, the average adult should sleep between 6 and 8 hours a night. It is important to maintain a regular sleep schedule.

Short naps can improve mood and boost energy. Experts suggest an appropriate nap time of 20 minutes, recommending no more than an hour of sleep.

Research presented by the European Society of Cardiology in 2020 shows that napping for more than 60 minutes increases the risk of dying from any disease by 30%, the risk of cardiovascular disease by 34%, compared with no sleep at all. lunch. People who do not get enough sleep each night and make up for it during the day have a high mortality rate.

Mental health care

Dr Adrian Low, a psychologist in Hong Kong, said taking steps to prevent depression could also improve life expectancy. “Depression has long been linked to many physical health problems. In part because it leads to physiological changes in the body, such as an increased risk of heart disease and stroke,” he said.

Depression also causes a person to form bad habits such as overeating, binge eating, starving yourself, being inactive, smoking or abusing alcohol. According to Dr. Low, keeping a positive attitude can help increase the will to live, making a person pay attention to their health, thereby making them less likely to get sick. Dr. Low offers a few suggestions for reducing stress and having a positive mindset.

“Focus on the good things, no matter how small or insignificant they may be. Think of the people or moments that bring you comfort and happiness, express gratitude to others a little. at least once a day,” he said.

According to him, contact with positive people can make you see the bright side of life. He also encourages people to talk to themselves, spreading positivity by complimenting or doing nice things to those around them.

High intensity exercise and exercise to increase fitness

Regular exercise helps keep the body slim, provides more energy, helps to relax and improves mood. It is also good for the heart, lungs and brain, reducing the risk of high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

Research published in 2020 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine showed that intense exercise can increase life expectancy. People who are physically active have a lower mortality rate.

Experts recommend exercising for about 150 minutes per week, or about 20 minutes per day. According to the American Heart Association, “vigorous activity” is a set of movements that increase heart rate and breathing rate, a reasonable threshold is about 70-85% of maximum heart rate.

Thuc Linh (According to SCMP)


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