This week is national women’s health week, and yes there are some differences between men and women’s health.
At the same time, most of the rules for living a longer healthier life are the same. That’s because the majority of factors between health and illness, or even reversing illness come from lifestyle changes.
Now that should be good news because it’s something compeltely under your control.
It doesn’t require hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of prescription drugs.
On the other hand, hearing that your level of health is your choice may be the last thing you want to hear.
In fact, according to a study published here, adopting just 5 lifestyle changes at 50 can add 14 years to your life if you’re a woman and 12.2 for men.
In general, Americans have a shorter life expectancy than most other high-income countries, and that’s just sad.
As of September of 2108 obesity rates in the U.S. are getting close to 40% in several states. You can also check out the graphs to see what the rate is for your state if you live in the U.S.
But, surprisingly, obesity isn’t one of the top factors for premature death.
Instead it’s more likely that 5 lifestyle factors will come into play and 4 food groups that youre not eating.
Let’s start with lifestyle.
The major causes of premature death in the U.S. are heart disease and cancer. And the biggest cause of all disease starts with inflammation.
What are those 5 lifestyle habits that will give you those extra years?
5 Clinically Proven Lifestyle Habits to Add Years to Your Life
- Not smoking
- Keeping a healthy body-mass index
- Consistent moderate exercise
- Minimal alcohol consumption
- Eating a healthy diet
I know there are people who still smoke. I don’t even know what to say about that.
My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and given 2 weeks to live. She passed away the day after Chrsitmas in 2005 at 69 years old.
She smoked since high school and her doctor finally convinced her to stop about 10 years before her diagnosis.
My dad had stopped smoking years earlier but my mom always said she just didn’t want to. I think that was her way of not admitting she didn’t know how to quit.
#2 Healthy BMI
A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.99. You don’t need to figure yours out, just enter your height and weight into this handy calculator.
For over a decade I’ve had a scale that has sensors to read the percent of water weight, fat, bone density, and muscle mass.
It’s important to track all four to make sure you’re not dehydrated, aren’t carrying too much fat, aren’t experiencing bone loss and that you have a healthy level of muscle.
For me the BMI doesn’t tell the whole story.
#3 Consistent Exercise
This doesn’t require you to spend hours in the gym. Just 45 minutes 3 times a week will certainly help.
I have two women friends in their 80’s that go to the gym every day and have the energy of a 20 year old. Seriously!
I’ve never been a big fan of exercise. This is the weakest point in my health habits.
I can go for years with a consistent practice and then all of a sudden stop for months or even a couple years.
I find that walking hills and stairs is a great place to start. Also walking on a beach or in a nature setting that makes you happy.
Wearing a fitness tracker pushes you to do more steps, or you’ll just take it off and put it in a drawer so you don’t have to face the truth.
If you’re not a gym rat, yoga and Pilates can be a gret alternative. There are also great fitness memberships you can do on your Smart TV or phone.
Interestingly, after my mom passed my dad lost a couple of notches on his belt that he attributed to all the additional exercise of keeping the house up and trips up and down the basement stairs doing laundry. Moderate exercise does make a difference.
#4 Moderate Alcohol
I’m not going to debate the benefits of no alcohol or moderate drinking.
What I will say is tht moderate is considered one 5 ounce glass of wine for women and 2 for men each day.
Studies have shown the health benefits of red wine.
Tonight, pour your glass of wine like normal and then dump it into a measuring cup to see how many ounces is a normal pour for you.
I have a friend that brags about how little he drinks, but each glass is an 8 ounce pour. That turns 2 glasses into 3+.
Be honest with yourself.
Having a big glass of water before dinner will help you to drink less.
#5 Healthy Diet
This one is open to debate and interpretation more than any of the other 4.
It all depends on what you eat now, where you’re starting from.
Making healthier choices could be starting with no more artificial sweeteners or less packaged foods and fast food.
If you’re a meat eater, try at least one dinner a week that’s meatless, like pasta. Or at least switch to grass fed, antibiotic free meat and dairy. Go organic on everything you can.
Maybe the next step for you is eliminating dairy and switching to plant-based choices.
Or it could be adding another serving of fruit and vegetabels to each meal.
Only you know which step in the process you’re on.
If you don’t know what’s the next step or how to make it work in your family or your life, just ask me. I’m here to help. I’ve been on this path in a very serious way, studying health and nutrition for almost 40 years now.
I was raised eating not much more than meat and potatoes, almost no fruit and veggies, with a very limited pallete.
If I can do it so can you!
Two Absolute Musts
From my perspective, there are two major factors in increased health and longevity.
Those are your mindset about your health and your openess to new things. To make a positive shift that you will maintain long term, these two things are a must.
If your belief system or unconscious thoughts have you trapped in an unhealthy cycle, it’s harder for you to make a lasting change.
You’ve already stacked up a list of reasons (excuses) why there’s nothing you can do, or why there’s no point.
If you aren’t open to trying new things you won’t try new forms of exercise or new foods.
It’s really hard to have a healthier diet when you’ve blocked yoruself by saying there is a whole list of things you won’t eat.
“I don’t like it” is not a valid reason.
First, you’ll find that as you begin to eat cleaner your pallete changes and all of a sudden you start to like the taste of foods you didn’t enjoy before.
How many things do you say you don’t like that you’ve never even tried?
How many more things have you never had properly prepared?
For example, not liking slimy beets from a can doesn’t compare to the crunchiness of raw beets shredded on a salad. It also doesn’t compare to the sweet caramelized roasted beets you can easily make by popping them in the oven.
What You’re Not Eating Could Be Killing You
A global study released recently found that people are also dying from what they’re NOT eating.
These were the findings of a 27 year global study published in The Lancet.
Beyond the 5 factors I just outlined, you also must look at what you aren’t eating, like the beets.
This study shows that across populations, not eating enough healthy food may be more deadly than the unhealthy foods you need to cut back on.
I want you to really take that in because I’ll bet you haven’t been looking at your health from this point of view.
Just as there are reasons/benefits to stop eating things you eat now, there are even bigger benefits to adding healthy foods to your daily diet.
This article breaks down the study and ranks 15 dietary risk factors.
Looking at the graph they included was an eye opener.
You could be putting your health at more risk by not eating enough whole grains, fruit, nuts/seeds and vegetables than the damage you’re doing with too much red meat and sugary drinks.
That’s a paradym shift.
Whole grains doesn’t mean packaged foods that slap the words whole grains on it. They’re talking about real whole grains that are not ultraprocessed into bread, crackers and pasta.
And its just a shame that so many fad diets are scaring people into not eating grains and fruits. Their reasoning it faulty to say the least with how they are convuluting science to their benefit.
These are the same food groups that will help you to prevent the major diseases that are the top causes of premature death.
If you’re a member of Empowered & Ageless Inner Circle, you have access to trainings on the specific vitamins, nutrients, foods, and recipes for preventing or reversing heart disease, another for preventing and after a diagnosis of cancer, and a third for building your immune system.
If you want to live a longer healthier life, adopt the 5 lifestyle habits listed above.
While eliminating toxic foods, or even before eliminating them, eat more of these 4 food groups:
- Whole Grains
- Nuts and seeds
Eat the rainbow every day. That means eating fruits and veggies of a variety of colors. Each one has it’s own unique health benefits.
If at this point you only like broccoli and apples, it’s a start.
Over time I have added foods to my diet because of the health benefits regardless of the fact I don’t like the taste.
Start with a tiny bit in a smoothie or a soup so the taste doesn’t hit you in the face. In no time at all, you won’t even taste it. Then before you know it, it won’t bother you anymore. I swear.
Are the Changes Worth it?
You may be one of those people who says you’d rather live a shorter life than not live and eat exactly how you want.
I’ve know many people who say that.
What I can tell you is that when you’re given two weeks to live you’ll change absolutely everything in an instant to have any length of time you can get to spend with your family and see your grandchildren grow up.
Why not do that now?
Because if you wait, you could wait too long and it’s too late.
Ask my dad if it’s worth it.
He’s been without his wife of 50 years for 14 years. He’s seen his grankids grow up, and soon they will be having kids of their own. Nothing would have made my mom happier than to be here for that.
Don’t let that be you.
As I said at the top of this conversation, you are responsible for your health and your longevity. It’s not your genes or your bad luck, it’s your choices.
Science has proven that genetics are greatly outweighed by environment. That’s your lifestyle.
Choose health. Choose life.
Health and nutrition are a big passion of mine because, without your health, all the success you can achieve is meaningless. In 1981 I started seriously studying health, nutrition, and the mind/body connection. I stopped eating meat in 1990 for health reasons and compassion for animals. In 1999 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2005, the day after Christmas, I lost my mother at the age of 69 to lung cancer. Since then, helping others to regain their health by making simple changes has become a driving force in my life.
Until next time, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just comment on this post here or on Facebook.
Great article, Lynn! Pun half intended, you’ve given wonderful morsels of information that I know are beneficial to “chew” on. And, I plan to do just that. Many thanks!
Thanks Mo! Even though the focus is on health and longevity, making these improvements to your diet and lifestyle will also give you more energy and increase your sense of wellbeing.