Running out of ideas for a New Year’s resolution? Here are a few leading-edge health habits that can radically alter your health. Some are drawn from the oldest wisdom, but new research and technology has them trending now. Try turning them into a longevity habit for you!
What? The same social media that is causing news-making traffic problems can make you healthy?
Yes, when used wisely, these new forms of communication can help you lose weight and curb bad habits. The key to getting benefits from these forms of communication is accountability. You may have heard about Senator Claire McCaskill, who took her mission to lose weight public on Twitter. She tweeted her nearly 60,000 followers news about her progress with her plan that included eating healthy foods every three hours and doing lots of cardio, using Twitter to keep her accountable. After five months, she lost a remarkable 50 pounds.
Also, a recent study reported that young problem drinkers benefited from sending and receiving text messages that tracked their alcohol consumption. Although a preliminary study, it was found that the heavy drinker young adults who texted how much they drank during the week and received a feedback text managed to curb their drinking behavior more effectively than those heavy drinkers that sent and received no texts.
Habit for you: The next time you want to break a habit that isn’t serving your longevity plans, try going public! Make one resolution this year, and have your friends and family hold you accountable. Tweet your progress or keep a blog, and be receptive to their responses.
After a quadruple bypass surgery in 2004 and stent surgery in 2010, former president Bill Clinton decided it was time to make a major change to his diet: he went vegan, the strictest form of vegetarianism.
Clinton drew national attention to his plant-based diet, reporting that he lost 24 pounds for his daughter, Chelsea’s, wedding. While it is definitely not necessary to go full-fledged vegan—cutting out meat, eggs, and dairy—the takeaway is that eating plenty of vegetables can help you live longer, and in much better health.
Science shows that vegetarians have a lowered risk of heart disease and cancer; not only that, but they tend to live longer and are less likely to be overweight. So does this mean you replace meat with potato chips? Not quite!
If you decide to eat in a more vegetarian direction, it is important to emphasize balance in your diet: eat whole foods from the earth, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans. It is very important to make sure your meatless diet includes enough protein, iron, and zinc, which is where beans and legumes come in. It is wise to work with a nutritionist or dietician to make sure all of your vitamin and mineral bases are covered.
Habit for you: Want a more moderate approach? Eat vegetarian during the week and save the meat for the weekends.
Bonus tip: You can also make sure you are getting all your minerals and vitamins—and absorbing them into your body—by trying a liquid whole food drink.
A study published at the beginning of May 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that mainstream health care providers are more frequently referring patients to mind-body therapies, such as yoga, meditation, deep-breathing exercises, and tai chi. Once considered on the fringes of modern Western medicine, these techniques are rising in popularity as more science confirms their benefits on health. Just a few of the findings show that mind-body exercises can help:
Habit for you: To harness the preventative power of mind-body exercises, join a tai chi or yoga class with a conscientious teacher who works at your level. Or start right now with this breathing exercise: Sit in a chair or cross-legged on the floor with your head, neck, and trunk straight. Focus your mind on the breath entering your nostrils and filling your body. Practice deep, slow, rhythmic breathing, and try to keep your inhalation and exhalation the same length of time. If your mind wanders, bring your attention gently back to the breath. You are on your way to a meditation practice!
You can find more ways to live a long and healthy life in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle. In addition, The Natural Health Dictionary makes a great companion to your quest for longevity. It is a comprehensive guide that answers all your questions about natural remedies, healing herbs, longevity foods, vitamins, and supplements.
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May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
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