We love Betty White, don’t we? That sassy smile. The twinkle in her eye. It’s hard to believe she is 98 years young, isn’t it? When we think about aging, we want to be like Betty White, or Mel Brooks–someone who is not only aging but enjoying and thriving. The good news is life expectancy for Americans is slowly on the rise. New data from the CDC in 2018 puts our life expectancy at 78.7 on average.
The not so good news is that, while we are living longer lives, we are not living our healthiest lives. According to the American Heart Association, the number of years Americans can expect to thrive in good health is averaging at 66 years. That leaves almost 13 years of not so great health for us to deal with. It’s no secret that as we age our systems can break down. We experience more aches and pains. More things are going wrong in our bodies. That’s to be expected. But there is plenty we can do to not only avoid these breakdowns but to thrive and live happy, healthy lives.
Some of the main reasons for the difference between lifespan and “healthspan” come from our lifestyle. Obesity and diabetes are on the rise and getting out of control. We are more at risk for inflammatory disease due to our diet and inactivity. Not having access to good healthcare, our socioeconomics, and our education all play a part in the disparity; but while we can’t necessarily control where we live, our economic status, or our education, we can control our lifestyle. Many people are choosing to make changes that not only help them feel better, but also target healthy aging–and with a little information and guidance, living longer, healthier lives don’t have to be an impossible task.
Read on for some top tips on changing your lifestyle for the long haul:
1. Eat plant-based foods. This doesn’t mean you have to become a sudden vegetarian, but our standard American diet does not include enough plant-based nutrition. Plants are great sources of nutrients including unsaturated fat, vitamins, minerals fiber and protein. A plant-based diet has been shown to help reduce obesity, heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory disease and cancer.
2. Avoid the processed foods. Our diets should consist of real, whole foods. Processed foods contain harmful chemicals and additives that contribute to our diseased state and do not help us live longer, healthier lives.
3. Water, water, water. I know…you’re tired of hearing it, but water really is a miracle drink. Since your body is primarily composed of water, it’s pretty important. You need water for proper digestion, circulation, transportation of nutrients, healthy skin, and maintenance of your body temperature, just to name a few.
4. Go Nuts! One or two handfuls of nuts daily provides good fats, low carbs, and many nutrients including vitamin E, magnesium and selenium. They also have antioxidants and can help lower bad cholesterol and help maintain blood sugar.
5. Ditch the sugar habit. If you read our blog regularly you already know about the evils of the “S” word. Aim to have no more than 25 grams of added sugar daily.
As we try to live longer lives, it’s important to remember we’re not just trying to increase the number of years we live, but to increase the quality of those years. What’s the purpose of living to 100 if you’re victim to a variety of diseases that make life difficult? If you’re looking for that motivation to keep not only your body healthy, but your brain active, check out our BrainTap Pro App today. Not only can you reduce stress (which ages us tremendously and causes disease), but you’ll learn to make healthy habits automatic and easy, helping you live your best life, longer.
As Betty White says about getting older, “It’s not a surprise. We knew it was coming. Make the most of it.”
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