If you walk through a department store or drugstore, you’ll come across hundreds of products that promise to make you look younger. These face serums, lotions and hair dyes are designed to help fight the appearance of aging, but most of us don’t spend enough time thinking about how we can actually add years onto our lives—and look good while doing it.
The truth is, we have the power to extend how long we live, and as with most beneficial habits, the earlier we start, the better. Incorporating these five, all-natural tips into your life can lengthen your life span—and they’re so easy to implement, they won’t disrupt your young, vibrant lifestyle at all.
Eat hot peppers.
If you like spicy things, you’re in luck. Research has shown that hot peppers can help you live longer. Scientists analyzed the eating habits of more than 16,000 Americans and found that those who had enjoyed at least one fiery pepper in the last month reduced their risk of death by 13 percent.
It’s unclear what it is about peppers that helps us live longer, but most scientists think it’s because of capsaicin, one of the active components in hot peppers. The antimicrobial properties of capsaicin positively affect gut health, which is where many diseases begin. As a result, adding that jalapeno to your burger can help reduce the side effects of chronic disease, or prevent them altogether. And as an added bonus, spicy foods like cayenne pepper are one of my go-to fat burning foods.
Thanks to recent research out of Singapore, it might be time to swap your morning coffee for a freshly brewed tea. The study found that drinking tea can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurogenerative disorders by 50 percent. And if you have a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s, tea’s protective benefits are even more effective—it can actually reduce your risk of the disease by as much as 86 percent!
And the good news is that these benefits aren’t unique to one specific tea variety. Researchers found that what mattered most was that it was made from tea leaves (no teabags here) and was enjoyed on a regular basis. Keep your tea healthy by lightly sweetening with Manuka honey or another natural sweetener.
Get out in nature.
The Japanese call it “shinrin-yoku,” or forest bathing. I call it an easy way to lift your spirits and add years to your life. Spending time in nature—whether it’s in the forest or just your local park—and away from the stress of city life actually boosts your immune system. All that time in greener pastures raises our natural “killer cell” activity, a powerful type of white blood cell that our body releases when it needs to fight infections and tumor cells.
Researchers believe compounds released by trees and plants are to thank for the increased white blood cells and for other healthy benefits like lower blood pressure and reduced stress. Not close to a wooded area? Try earthing, a simple technique that involves merely walking outside barefoot and allowing the soles of your feet to make contact with the earth’s surface. This simple practice has been shown to lower free radical damage, stress, inflammation and pain.
Keep moving throughout the day.
Between sitting during our commutes, sitting at our desks, and then sitting while we watching TV or read to unwind from the day, Americans spend far too much time on their backsides. And all that sitting can be as harmful to our health as smoking cigarettes.
Just one hour of moderate physical activity, however, can help our bodies reclaim their movement and counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Many of us don’t have a solid hour that we can devote to moving around, but the good news is that you can break up those 60 minutes however you’d like.
Adding in a morning or after-dinner walk is a great way to start or end your day, while an after-lunch stroll around the block can help counteract mid-day drowsiness. Taking short breaks throughout your workday is a good idea, too. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and move every 30 minutes or so, whether it’s to grab some water (always a good idea!) or chat with a coworker face-to-face instead of over email.
Go for a run.
It’s time to lace up your running shoes, because exercise can help you live longer, especially when you’re hitting the pavement. A study out of Iowa State University found that running regularly—even for as little as 5 minutes a day (!)—caused runners to live longer than their non-running counterparts. And those results were consistent even if the runners were a few pounds too heavy, drank alcohol, smoked or ran slowly. In fact, all runners reduced their risk of premature death by almost 40 percent.
The researchers crunched the data and realized that if non-runners took up the activity, there would be 16 percent fewer deaths and 25 percent fewer fatal heart attacks. Scientists believe this is because running tackles so many health problems—by helping us to shed extra pounds and naturally lowering blood pressure, for example—which helps our overall wellness and naturally increases longevity.
Registering for a local 5k or 10k is a great way to introduce running into your lifestyle, especially since speed or time don’t seem to dampen running’s life-extending benefits.
The New Potato and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease or ailment.
All content on The New Potato (even when supplied by a medical professional) is intended for educational and conversational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare provider before beginning any new diet, exercise regime, or wellness routine.