People have been chasing down the key to a longer life since the dawn of time. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: The real fountain of youth isn’t nearly as magical as you might think.
In fact, according to new research, it’s hiding in plain sight, right at everyone’s fingertips. And it flows from a set of five common-sense rules that literally anyone can follow.
Fountain of youth secrets backed by science
A recent analysis looked at data from more than 100,000 men and women from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. And it found that people who stuck to all five of these simple strategies were nearly 75 percent less likely to die of heart disease or cancer during the study period:
- They ate right. Not surprisingly, the longest-living subjects had the highest healthy eating scores. In other words, they ate the most fruits and veggies, and the least amount of added sugar and junk sodium.
- They exercised. For best results, aim for 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise—think brisk walking or bicycling—a day. But any activity you can squeeze in is better than nothing is. In this study, even subjects who clocked less than an hour of exercise a week enjoyed a 35 percent lower risk of death.
- They maintained a healthy weight. In this case, that meant a BMI in the “normal” range—between 18.5 and 24.9. (Obesity, meanwhile, raised the risk of death by more than a quarter.) To calculate your own BMI multiply your height in inches times your height in inches. Next, divide your weight by that number. Finally, multiply that result by 705.
- They didn’t smoke. People who never smoked lived the longest. But while former smokers still faced a 50 percent higher risk, current pack-a-day smokers were three times as likely to die during the study period.
- They drank in moderation. The sweet spot was up to 15 grams of alcohol for women and up to 30 grams for men. (A standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol—so basically, between one and three drinks, depending on your gender.)
Overall, simply following all five of these golden rules added 14 years to the lives of American women, and a dozen years to the lives of American men. That’s an incredible payoff—and proof positive that living longer doesn’t always require a long list of expensive potions and procedures.
4 more strategies to stay forever young
Now that list above may seem obvious to anyone committed to healthy living. But they’re not the only fountain of youth secrets that can tack years onto your life.
Following are four more longevity-boosting strategies you might not have guessed…
1. Fast intermittently:
Sure, we all have to eat to live. But if you want to live longer, you might want to try intermittent fasting (IF). Recent research shows that this fountain of youth strategy can alter your body’s mitochondrial networks to slow aging and lengthen your lifespan.
It takes a little willpower, but the rules are simple: The 5-2 is one common approach—in which you restrict intake to 600 calories for two days of the week and eat normally the other five days. But some people prefer to limit eating to eight hours windows—say, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.—instead.
2. Sip green tea:
If red wine just isn’t your thing, try a daily cup of this longevity-boosting beverage instead. (Hold the artificial creamer and sugar, of course.) Research shows that drinking just one cup of green tea per day can cut your risk of premature death by as much as ten percent.
3. Sleep less:
Or at least, less than eight hours a night. Because according to one study, routinely clocking more than eight hours nightly is just as lethal as snoozing fewer than four hours—leading to a significantly higher death rate. The real magic number is between six and seven hours per night.
4. Babysit your grandkids more:
Your children may have given you gray hair—but your grandkids can actually keep you young. One recent study showed that seniors who spent more time caring for children enjoyed a stunning 37 percent lower mortality risk.
The best part? The kids didn’t have to be blood relatives to confer this incredible benefit.