13 habits linked to a long life
Here are 13 habits linked to a long life. 1. Avoid overeating 2. Eat more nuts 3. Try out turmeric 4. Eat plenty of healthy plant foods 5. Stay physically active 6.
Many people think that life expectancy is
largely determined by genetics.
However, genes play a much smaller role than
It turns out that environmental factors like
diet and lifestyle are key.
Here are 13 habits linked to a long life.
The link between calorie intake and longevity
currently generates a lot of interest.
Animal studies suggest that a 10–50% reduction
in normal calorie intake may increase maximum
Studies of human populations renowned for
longevity also observe links between low calorie
intake, an extended lifespan, and a lower
likelihood of disease .
What's more, calorie restriction may help
reduce excess body weight and belly fat, both
of which are associated with shorter lifespans
That said, long-term calorie restriction is
often unsustainable and can include negative
side effects, such as increased hunger, low
body temperature, and a diminished sex drive
Whether calorie restriction slows aging or
extends your lifespan is not yet fully understood.
Eat more nuts
Nuts are nutritional powerhouses.
They're rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants,
and beneficial plant compounds.
What’s more, they’re a great source of
several vitamins and minerals, such as copper,
magnesium, potassium, folate, niacin, and
vitamins B6 and E .
Several studies show that nuts have beneficial
effects on heart disease, high blood pressure,
inflammation, diabetes, metabolic syndrome,
belly fat levels, and even some forms of cancer
One study found that people who consumed at
least 3 servings of nuts per week had a 39%
lower risk of premature death .
Similarly, two recent reviews including over
350,000 people noted that those who ate nuts
had a 4–27% lower risk of dying during the
study period — with the greatest reductions
seen in those who ate 1 serving of nuts per
Try out turmeric
When it comes to anti-aging strategies, turmeric
is a great option.
That’s because this spice contains a potent
bioactive compound called curcumin.
Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
properties, curcumin is thought to help maintain
brain, heart, and lung function, as well as
protect against cancers and age-related diseases
Curcumin is linked to an increased lifespan
in both insects and mice .
However, these findings have not always been
replicated, and no human studies are currently
Nevertheless, turmeric has been consumed for
thousands of years in India and is generally
Eat plenty of healthy plant foods
Consuming a wide variety of plant foods, such
as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole
grains, and beans, may decrease disease risk
and promote longevity.
For example, many studies link a plant-rich
diet to a lower risk of premature death, as
well as a reduced risk of cancer, metabolic
syndrome, heart disease, depression, and brain
These effects are attributed to plant foods’
nutrients and antioxidants, which include
polyphenols, carotenoids, folate, and vitamin
Accordingly, several studies link vegetarian
and vegan diets, which are naturally higher
in plant foods, to a 12–15% lower risk of
premature death .
The same studies also report a 29–52% lower
risk of dying from cancer or heart, kidney,
or hormone-related diseases .
What’s more, some research suggests that
the risk of premature death and certain diseases
increases with greater meat consumption .
However, other studies report either nonexistent
or much weaker links — with the negative
effects seeming specifically linked to processed
Vegetarians and vegans also generally tend
to be more health-conscious than meat eaters,
which could at least partly explain these
Overall, eating plenty of plant foods is likely
to benefit health and longevity.
Stay physically active
It should come as no surprise that staying
physically active can keep you healthy and
add years to your life .
As few as 15 minutes of exercise per day may
help you achieve benefits, which could include
an additional 3 years of life .
Furthermore, your risk of premature death
may decrease by 4% for each additional 15
minutes of daily physical activity .
A recent review observed a 22% lower risk
of early death in individuals who exercised
— even though they worked out less than
the recommended 150 minutes per week .
People who hit the 150-minute recommendation
were 28% less likely to die early.
What's more, that number was 35% for those
who exercised beyond this guidance .
Finally, some research links vigorous activity
to a 5% greater reduction in risk compared
to low- or moderate-intensity activities .
Smoking is strongly linked to disease and
early death .
Overall, people who smoke may lose up to 10
years of life and be 3 times more likely to
die prematurely than those who never pick
up a cigarette .
Keep in mind that it's never too late to quit.
One study reports that individuals who quit
smoking by age 35 may prolong their lives
by up to 8.5 years .
Furthermore, quitting smoking in your 60s
may add up to 3.7 years to your life.
In fact, quitting in your 80s may still provide
Moderate your alcohol intake
Heavy alcohol consumption is linked to liver,
heart, and pancreatic disease, as well as
an overall increased risk of early death .
However, moderate consumption is associated
with a reduced likelihood of several diseases,
as well as a 17–18% decrease in your risk
of premature death .
Wine is considered particularly beneficial
due to its high content of polyphenol antioxidants.
Results from a 29-year study showed that men
who preferred wine were 34% less likely to
die early than those who preferred beer or
In addition, one review observed wine to be
especially protective against heart disease,
diabetes, neurological disorders, and metabolic
To keep consumption moderate, it is recommended
that women aim for 1–2 units or less per
day and a maximum of 7 per week.
Men should keep their daily intake to less
than 3 units, with a maximum of 14 per week
It's important to note that no strong research
indicates that the benefits of moderate drinking
are greater than those of abstaining from
In other words, there is no need to start
drinking if you don't usually consume alcohol.
Prioritize your happiness
Feeling happy can significantly increase your
In fact, happier individuals had a 3.7% reduction
in early death over a 5-year study period
A study of 180 Catholic nuns analyzed their
self-reported levels of happiness when they
first entered the monastery and later compared
these levels to their longevity.
Those who felt happiest at 22 years of age
were 2.5 times more likely to still be alive
six decades later .
Finally, a review of 35 studies showed that
happy people may live up to 18% longer than
their less happy counterparts .
Avoid chronic stress and anxiety
Anxiety and stress may significantly decrease
For instance, women suffering from stress
or anxiety are reportedly up to two times
more likely to die from heart disease, stroke,
or lung cancer .
Similarly, the risk of premature death is
up to three times higher for anxious or stressed
men compared to their more relaxed counterparts
If you're feeling stressed, laughter and optimism
could be two key components of the solution.
Studies show that pessimistic individuals
have a 42% higher risk of early death than
more optimistic people.
However, both laughter and a positive outlook
on life can reduce stress, potentially prolonging
Nurture your social circle
Researchers report that maintaining healthy
social networks can help you live up to 50%
In fact, having just 3 social ties may decrease
your risk of early death by more than 200%
Studies also link healthy social networks
to positive changes in heart, brain, hormonal,
and immune function, which may decrease your
risk of chronic diseases .
A strong social circle might also help you
react less negatively to stress, perhaps further
explaining the positive effect on lifespan
Finally, one study reports that providing
support to others may be more beneficial than
In addition to accepting care from your friends
and family, make sure to return the favor
Be more conscientious
Conscientiousness refers to a person's ability
to be self-disciplined, organized, efficient,
Based on data from a study that followed 1,500
boys and girls into old age, kids who were
considered persistent, organized, and disciplined
lived 11% longer than their less conscientious
Conscientious people may also have lower blood
pressure and fewer psychiatric conditions,
as well as a lower risk of diabetes and heart
or joint problems .
This might be partly because conscientious
individuals are less likely to take dangerous
risks or react negatively to stress — and
more likely to lead successful professional
lives or be responsible about their health
Conscientiousness can be developed at any
stage in life through steps as small as tidying
up a desk, sticking to a work plan, or being
Drink coffee or tea
Both coffee and tea are linked to a decreased
risk of chronic disease.
For instance, the polyphenols and catechins
found in green tea may decrease your risk
of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease .
Similarly, coffee is linked to a lower risk
of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain
cancers and brain ailments, such as Alzheimer's
and Parkinson's .
Additionally, both coffee and tea drinkers
benefit from a 20–30% lower risk of early
death compared to non-drinkers .
Just remember that too much caffeine can also
lead to anxiety and insomnia, so you may want
to curb your intake to the recommended limit
of 400 mg per day — around 4 cups of coffee
It's also worth noting that it generally takes
six hours for caffeine's effects to subside.
Therefore, if you have trouble getting enough
high-quality sleep, you may want to shift
your intake to earlier in the day.
Develop a good sleeping pattern
Sleep is crucial for regulating cell function
and helping your body heal.
A recent study reports that longevity is likely
linked to regular sleeping patterns, such
as going to bed and waking up around the same
time each day .
Sleep duration also seems to be a factor,
with both too little and too much being harmful.
For instance, sleeping less than 5–7 hours
per night is linked to a 12% greater risk
of early death, while sleeping more than 8–9
hours per night could also decrease your lifespan
by up to 38% .
Too little sleep may also promote inflammation
and increase your risk of diabetes, heart
disease, and obesity.
These are all linked to a shortened lifespan
On the other hand, excessive sleep could be
linked to depression, low physical activity,
and undiagnosed health conditions, all of
which may negatively affect your lifespan