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Habits that help you live longer

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From taking a cold shower to drinking more coffee, discover seven healthy habits that could help you live a healthier life.Taking an annual blood test could help many of us to stay fitter for longer, say experts.Here GP Xand van Tulleken, associate of Werlabs, the Swedish company behind a new blood test-monitoring service now available in the United Kingdom (UK), explains why and offers other simple but effective health habits that could help anyone live a longer, healthier life.

Take a cold shower
According to GP Dr. Xand van Tulleken, a cold shower puts stress on the body, working like exercise to stimulate it. Research from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, Australia, published in the journal Cell Metabolism in 2014, backs this up. Scientists found that shivering stimulates the conversion of energy-storing “white fat” into energy-burning “brown fat”.

Don’t get into sleep debt
Missing just 30 minutes of sleep per day on weekdays can lead to obesity, say scientists from the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, in Doha. Because of social and work commitments, people often accumulate sleep debt during weekdays and make up for lost sleep over the weekend. But this may lead to long-term metabolic disruption, the researchers reported in a 2015 study, which can promote the onset, or exacerbate the progression, of type 2 diabetes.

Keep moving
Opening your bowels every morning, says Dr van Tulleken, is an effective way to improve your health. Constipation affects one in every seven adults at any time, British National Health Service (NHS) figures show, and can lead to haemorrhoids, diverticulitis, bleeding and discomfort. Moreover, in 2012, scientists from the American College of Gastroenterology reported an association between chronic constipation and an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Staying hydrated and taking regular exercise can also help to prevent constipation.

Take a regular blood test
Cardiovascular disease causes more than a quarter of all deaths in the UK. One of the main risk factors is high levels of low-density lipoproteins – known as “bad” cholesterol, which can cause fatty material to build up in artery walls. “Knowing your lipid levels can really motivate you to make the changes to diet and exercise you need to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Dr. Anders Lycksell of Werlabs. “Regular testing can provide a good understanding of how specific changes to diet and exercise regimes affect your blood markers.”

Drink more coffee
A new Spanish study has found that higher coffee consumption, particularly among the over-45s, is associated with a lower risk of death. Dr. Adela Navarro, a cardiologist at Hospital de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, says: “Drinking four cups of coffee each day can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people.” The research confirms a previous study from the University of Southern California, which found that drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease.

Try fasting
“There’s lots of evidence fasting is good for you,” says Dr van Tulleken. “I miss breakfast to help me control my calorie intake.” Cardiac researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Utah found that routine periodic fasting not only lowers the risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, but also causes significant changes in a person’s blood-cholesterol levels. Both diabetes and elevated cholesterol are known risk factors for coronary heart disease.

Get scrambled
Eating eggs was thought to cause high cholesterol. But now official advice from the British Heart Foundation says eating up to one egg a day does not increase heart-disease risk in healthy individuals, and can form part of a healthy diet. Eggs are a particularly good source of folic acid, which can reduce risk of stroke, scientists from Peking University First Hospital, Beijing, China, reported in 2015.
*Adapted from TelegraphUK Online


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