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Dr. Zach’s 7 tips for living a longer & healthier life

BT Montreal | posted Tuesday, Feb 19th, 2019

 

1. Don’t smoke, If you do smoke, quit.  Smoking is known to cause numerous cancers, heart disease, lung disease, and stroke.  If you smoke, the best thing you can do to improve your health is to quit. This is much easier said than done but where there is a will there is a way and there is nothing more important for (or than) your health.

Longtime smokers can expect to lose about 10 years of life expectancy.  However, those who quit before they turn 35 can gain most if not all of that decade back, and even those who wait until middle age to kick the habit can add about five years back to their life expectancies.  https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/putting-a-number-to-smokings-toll/

2. Eat well and, if you have diabetes, control your sugars.  Everyone should choose lower glycemic index foods (brown rice, bread, pasta) over high glycemic index foods (white rice, bread, pasta) as well as choosing fats that are unsaturated (olive oil, salmon, almonds) over those with saturated fat (cheese, butter, cream).  Also, avoid trans fats (in fast foods, donuts). These recommendations are especially important to people with diabetes, who need to watch their diet and control their blood glucose.

 

3. Control your weight.  Obesity is a risk factor for many illnesses including type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and early death.  Weight control can be achieved by diet and exercise. Don’t buy things you will eat for emotional reasons or out of boredom (or if you do, moderate it).  Ask for help in setting a reasonable goal and taking small steps that make success more likely. Tell friends and family about your goal. Make your kitchen off-limits after dinner.  Trimming 5% to 10% of your starting weight is a realistic goal with excellent health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels and lowering the risk for diabetes.  Work with your doctor, or a nutritionist, or a trainer — you don’t have to do it alone, and it’s easier to be motivated with others involved.

People with severe obesity have decreased life expectancy ranging from 6 to 14 years shorter than those of healthy weight — https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-study-finds-extreme-obesity-may-shorten-life-expectancy-14-years

 

4. Stay active, physically and mentally.  People who are more physically active have better diabetes control, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight.  And they live longer and healthier lives. Not everyone can run marathons, but whatever physical exertion you can do is infinitely better than none at all, and the more the better.

Staying mentally and socially active is as important as physical activity.  It has been shown to improve mental health and delay the onset and progression of dementia.

 

5. Drink alcohol only in moderation.  Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.  If you don’t drink, don’t take it up for possible health benefits. If there are any they are small and probably only from having a single glass of red wine a day. Heavy drinking causes liver disease, heart disease, stomach disease, and increases your risk of certain cancers.  And it decreases one’s life expectancy by about 5 years — https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30134-X/fulltext.

 

6. Build a strong social network.  This has been shows to be protective to both your mental and physical health.

A healthy social life can be as beneficial to your health as not smoking.  And a study showed that those with poor social connections had on average 50% higher odds of death in the study’s follow-up period (an average of 7.5 years) than people with more robust social ties.

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316

 

7. Have a doctor and go for screening when recommended.  Catch potential problems while they are easily treatable/curable and have someone to support you in improving your health.

Screening saves lives — for cancers, blood pressure, and many other conditions.

 

Controlling your blood pressure can add  5 years to your life expectancy — https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/787720.

Patients who see the same doctor regularly have a lower risk of death than others — https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/6/e021161

These are 7 ways to live longer, healthier lives.  There is no magic here; all take a bit of effort, and all are worth it.

 

For more info: www.drzach.ca 

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