A healthy body allows us to do many things.

Studies on longevity have concluded that it is very possible and even probable that correcting unhealthy lifestyle habits at the age of 50 can add at least 10 healthy years to your life expectancy. Six actions to improve health and increase your life expectancy follow.

I believe most people want to live a long, healthy, and productive life. They do not want someone to change their diaper for the last ten years of their life. Or, living in a nursing facility as they gradually fade away from reality. They want a strong, healthy body and mind.

We live in our comfort zones – the foods we choose to eat, the exercises we choose to do, the stress we choose to manage, and more. We develop habits – good or bad and live with them for the rest of our lives. Many times, we do not know what we are not doing that we should have been doing.

I get an annual physical every year. It started over 50 years ago when I joined the Navy. I went with my best friend to Dallas, Texas for a weekend to take various aptitude tests for qualification in Naval Aviation and the subsequent doctors and medical examinations. I passed everything and my best friend flunked his physical more than once. I ended up in the Navy and he got a 4F deferment.

That first flight physical was followed by 30 more flight physicals. After retiring, I continued to have an annual physical. In a few months, I will have my 21st annual physical. I have passed every physical in the Navy and rarely have any problems detected on my annual physicals. I am on zero prescription drugs and never have been in my life for more than two weeks to address an allergy or other short-term condition.

Annual physicals give us insight into what is working and what is not working. I also ask for extra tests – c-Reactive protein (CRP), homocysteine level, vitamin D3, for example. CRP gives an incredibly good indication of inflammation in the body. All disease starts with chronic low-level cellular inflammation. CRP will not tell you where you have a problem, but it will tell you that you have one.

Homocysteine level tests your heart health. Homocysteine is an amino acid used to make proteins. When there is too much homocysteine in the body, there is an increased risk of arterial damage and blood clots developing.

The vitamin D3 (VD3) test determines how much VD3 is present in the body. Low levels of VD3 are associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment as you age, severe asthma in children, cancer, and more.

These three medical tests along with the other tests done on an annual physical give you and your physician a baseline of what your health is today. If something is wrong, it can be addressed. If you do not know something is wrong, your health and future life can be at a higher risk of disease and reduced quality of life. Annual physicals are critical for your future health.

Eating healthy can mean different things to different people. If you are a vegan, then it means something different than if you are a meat and potatoes lover. Regardless of whether you shun carbohydrates or animal products, the key to better health and longer life is to eat nutritionally balanced meals.

There are over 30 nutrients the body needs daily. Iron, iodine, VD3, B12, calcium, vitamin A, and magnesium are just a few. 25% of the world is deficient in iron. It weakens the immune system and can lead to impaired brain function. Iodine is critical for thyroid function and brain development. A deficiency in iodine can increase heart rate, cause weight gain that is difficult to lose, impair bone health, and more.

Vitamin B12 deficiency increases as we age. The elderly are likely to be 20% deficient. Vegetarians can be up to 90% deficient. Reduced immune function, bone loss, and an increased risk of cancer are common health issues associated with vitamin B12 deficiency.

Calcium is required for heart, muscle, and nerve health. Osteoporosis is a common illness associated with a deficiency of calcium. Up to 75% of people eating the Western diet can be deficient in vitamin A. It can result in eye damage and eventual blindness. It also impairs the immune function.
Magnesium is a common deficiency in nearly half of Americans. It can lead to Type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular problems, fatigue, migraines, and many more.

Eating nutritionally balanced meals does not happen without knowing what is required to balance the nutrients your body needs daily. It also requires a change in your eating choices. I recommend The Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls as a reference for eating nutritionally balanced meals.

Dr. Wahls developed multiple sclerosis late in life. All medical help failed, and her condition got worse. She researched autoimmune diseases and wrote the book, The Wahls Protocol. She put herself on her protocol. In three months, she was able to walk using a walker after spending four years in a wheelchair. A month later she could walk using a walker. Within a year, she could bicycle 18 miles. Nutritional balance is key to great, long-lasting health.

We hear all the time that we need to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Many studies show that exercise works to improve and maintain health. Habits are hard to break. Not exercising is a habit. Both exercise and diet affect life expectancy and long-term health. America ranks 31st in life expectancy worldwide according to the World Health Organization.

Our lifestyle choices create 90% of the risks for various diseases, especially cardiovascular disease. Age, gender, and genetics account for the other 10%. Three lifestyle choices beyond diet and exercise are smoking, alcohol, and stress management. It is easier to say, “Stop Smoking,” than it is to do it. It is a difficult habit to break. If you smoke, get professional help.

Moderate alcohol consumption is OK. The word, moderate, is variable based on age, gender, weight, prescription drug use, pregnancy, coordination skills required for work, driving, recovering alcoholics, and more. When in doubt, one drink daily.

Bodyweight is a crucial element of longevity and health. The Body Mass Indicator (BMI) was established to do research on groups of populations of people. It should not be used by your doctor or insurance company to determine your healthy body weight. It is a tool that is used incorrectly in many cases.

Being overweight can lead to serious life-shortening and quality of life health problems. Type II diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, and a lot more. Lifestyle changes can improve body weight. Those who have been overweight for years know the struggle to lose weight and maintain it.

Stress management is the last key element of extended longevity and health. Stress is insidious because many times we do not know we are stressed. We respond to situations and mentally hold on to the result of that event. For example, the person in front of you at a stoplight does not go when the light is green. At the last moment, the car races through as the light turns red. You are stuck through another traffic cycle. Normally, this might not be much, but if you are behind schedule, your stress level increased in your body.

Unmanaged stress can affect thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It can contribute to blood pressure problems, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and many more. Stress is exacerbated when it involves people you must see or work with daily. Awareness is the first step when addressing stress. Remove yourself from the stressor. It might be a person, or it could be an unsafe neighborhood, discrimination, nearby crime areas, or safety concerns at work or home.

Death, divorce, job loss, debt, chronic illness, and many other things can cause stress to increase. If you cannot remove yourself from the stressors in your life, you must manage the stress by other methods – breathing, meditation, exercise, emotional freedom techniques (EFT), muscle relaxation, walking, hugs, aromatherapy, hobbies, vacation, self-talk, yoga, gratitude, and many more.

The six things needed to improve your health and extend your life expectancy are annual physicals, balanced nutrition, exercise, better lifestyle choices, normal body weight, and stress management.

Life Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – https://RedOLaughlin.com


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