How to live longer: Experts five key habits to keep you ‘healthy and sharp in older age

How to live longer: Experts five key habits to keep you ‘healthy and sharp in older age

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In his 80s, Dr Richard Besdine feels “as healthy and sharp” as he did a decade ago. The secret to his ageing success? Five healthy habits he lives by. “I believe in the power of a Mediterranean-like diet,” he said, referring to a combination of Italian and Greek dishes. The plant-based diet is filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.

“I like to think of the Mediterranean diet as more of a lifestyle routine than a strict plan you follow,” Dr Besdine elaborated.

For those who want to treat themselves to a T-bone steak every month, “Go for it!” Dr Besdine encouraged.

“But try to avoid processed and fast foods,” he cautioned, adding that seafood, lean meats, and nuts are a better alternative.

Mediterranean diet staples:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Albacore tuna
  • Extra virgin olive oil.

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“[Those fish are] rich in omega-3, which research shows can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke,” Dr Besdine explained.

The second habit Dr Besdine swears by is to “get your heart rate going” – but in the right way.

Spending two-and-a-half to five hours each week on moderate physical activity will pay dividends.

Exercise helps to reduce the risk of depression, cancer, and diabetes – and the lack of it contributes to disease and a shortened lifespan.

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“Just 30 minutes of walking every day can make a difference,” said Dr Besdine.

“Start moving now and keep it up. It can help add years to your life.”

Another tip shared by Dr Besdine is to “quit smoking and vaping, or never start it up”.

“As everybody already knows, smoking has deadly consequences,” he said.

The unhealthy habits can cause:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Lung disease
  • Emphysema.

“Research shows that even ‘light smoking’ (as little as one cigarette a day) can greatly increase your risk of dying early,” said Dr Besdine.

However, the benefits of quitting smoking begin fairly quickly; after one year of not smoking, your risk of a heart attack drops significantly.

“After two to five years, the chance of stroke could fall to roughly the same as a non-smoker,” Dr Besdine pointed out.

The professor added that preventative care can nip health problems in the bud.

By attending regular doctor appointments, you can keep on top of your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Attending scheduled national screenings can also save your life; here in the UK, women are encouraged to go for cervical and breast cancer screening.

Dr Besdine recommends an annual health check up, and his final tip is to protect your mental health.

“Engaging in meaningful hobbies and connecting socially with other people can have a powerful influence on your mental well-being and happiness.”

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