Five Tips to Living a Longer and Happier Life
4 Apr 2022.
Here at Longevity, our mission is to help Canadians live vibrant and fulfilled post-work lives, whether that's exploring ways to solve income security, embracing new passions, or playing fun games to help keep your mind in shape.
Take Wordle, for example, the game that has everyone abuzz these days. This simple word game where you guess different five-letter words started with a meagre few dozen players and soared to a few million and a low seven-figure acquisition by The New York Times months later. But it turns out that, while addictive, Wordle has one much more important benefit: it (and cognitively stimulating puzzles in general) can be linked to longer lifespans!1
While not a muscle itself, the brain benefits from cognitive exercises like puzzles. And much like any other muscle in your body, working out your brain leads to a better and longer life.
So, in the spirit of the Wordle, here are five five-letter words that will help you live a longer life:
We’re constantly searching for the spice of life, and it just so happens that there actually is one: turmeric. Turmeric contains a bioactive compound called curcumin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, turmeric helps maintain brain, heart, and lung function while also potentially protecting one against cancer.2 Maybe it’s time to add some turmeric tea to your diet.
While laughter may not be the best medicine (I’ve heard good things about penicillin), it’s definitely the easiest. Laughing with your friends or at a comedy show reduces stress, which already makes it beneficial. But more importantly, laughing reduces the amount of cortisol in your body. In moderate amounts, cortisol helps with things like blood pressure and how well your body metabolizes glucose, but it also produces your “fight or flight” response.3 Basically, too much cortisol will have you flying off the handle at common stressors like being cut off in traffic, and eventually, that will have compromising effects on your health. The good news is that with things like Netflix, there’s no shortage of comedy specials to get you laughing.
Reading has the fantastic ability to transport you to different places, times, or even universes. But it also has a newly studied benefit: it can prolong your life. A Yale University study found a connection between reading books and the reduction of mortality rates. After adjustment for all covariates, book readers experienced a 20% reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow up (see chart below).4 The study only found this reduction with books (no newspapers or magazines, sorry), but this has the added bonus of being able to tell everyone that the book is better than the movie!
Survival Advantage Associated with Book Reading
We know that sleep is extremely important – drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving – but some may not know exactly how important. Sleep, like most things, is all about moderation: too little or too much is not good. The key is to keep to a regular routine (going to bed and waking up at the same time every day) and stick to 7-8 hours each night.5
Now, this is something most can get behind. While we know heavy alcohol consumption can lead to liver, heart, and pancreatic problems, it turns out that moderate consumption is associated with a reduced likelihood of a number of diseases and an overall decrease in premature death.6 Wine in particular, with its high content of polyphenol antioxidants, is linked to moderate health benefits in men as they age.7 So, pour yourself that glass of wine as you read your favourite novel and prepare for bed, and you’re golden!
The bottom line
Leading a healthy lifestyle by eating properly and exercising will always be the best way to ensure the longest and most active life, but there are some more enjoyable ways that you can intersperse as well:
Introduce turmeric into your diet
Make sure you always find time to laugh
Read a good book
Stick to a regular sleep schedule
Enjoy a glass of wine or two
1. “Feed the brain? A neurologist says Wordle is actually good for you,” Hartford HealthCare: https://healthnewshub.org/feed-the-brain-a-neurologist-says-wordle-is-actually-good-for-you/
2. “Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research,” National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19594223/
3. “Cortisol: The good news, bad news, and the downright ugly truth behind this stress hormone,” University of Utah: https://healthcare.utah.edu/healthfeed/postings/2017/10/cortisol.php
4. “A chapter a day: Association of book reading with longevity,” National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27471129/
5. “Sleep duration and mortality: A systemic review and meta-analysis,” Wiley Online Library: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00732.x
6. “Alcohol and the heart: To abstain or not to abstain?,” National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22336255/
7. “Alcoholic beverage preference, 29-year mortality, and quality of life in men in old age,” National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17339649/
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