Most of us want to live a long and healthy life, but in certain areas of the world people live much longer on average than others. Research shows that Japanese people live the longest on average, followed by residents of Sweden and Norway. “There are a number of factors that contribute to this, including diet, physical activity level, the healthcare system and the community system in those countries,” Dr. Rashi Aggarwal, associate professor of psychiatry, tells Yahoo Life. at Rutgers Medical School, New Jersey. .

The average American lives to be 76.4 years old, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the shortest life expectancy the United States has seen in nearly two decades. In Japan, the average life expectancy is 84.3 years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). While there are some factors you can’t control when it comes to longevity, such as genetics, doctors say there are several things you can do to increase your chances of living a longer, healthier life. This is what they suggest.

Follow a primarily plant-based diet.

“We know a lot about what’s good for us in general when it comes to diet,” Aggarwal says. “Whether we find it difficult to do it or not is a different question.” Research consistently shows that eating a primarily plant-based diet and consuming less meat is helpful for longevity.

“As much as possible, avoid red meat, processed foods, and fast food,” says Aggarwal. Dr. Scott Kaiser, a geriatrician in Santa Monica, California, tells Yahoo Life that it’s important to make sure his diet contains plenty of leafy greens, berries, and other foods rich in phytonutrients, which are chemicals that make floors. to stay healthy. The Mediterranean diet in particular, which emphasizes plant-based foods and minimizes meats, has also been linked to longevity.

Take your time at meals.

Eating healthy isn’t just about what your body puts in, Aggarwal says, but also about your relationship with food.

“In the United States, we don’t sit down with our food like other countries do where it’s okay to eat slowly and enjoy our meals,” he says. “Eating should be the moment when you stop and eat with joy and attention.” This can help reduce the risk of overeating, which can lead to excess body fat and increase the risk of several health conditions, she says.

Try to be active

“Exercise is the closest thing we have to a miracle drug,” says Kaiser, noting that it can help maintain good physical and cognitive health. Aggarwal agrees. “If you can, exercise is a wonderful thing,” he says.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and two days of muscle-strengthening activity each week. If you find it difficult to incorporate a regular exercise routine into your life, Aggarwal recommends doing your best to stay active as much as possible. That means climbing the stairs, walking to the grocery store if he can, going for regular walks, or even doing active tasks around the house, she says.

Take care of your mental health and stay social

Having mental health problems such as depression is linked to a shorter life expectancy. Experts emphasize that it is the behaviors associated with those conditions that decrease longevity, including alcohol and drug use and inactivity, so it is important to seek help if you are struggling.

Loneliness and social isolation can also negatively affect health and are on par with obesity, physical inactivity and smoking, according to the CDC. Social isolation also carries a 50% increased risk of developing dementia, according to the CDC. The good news is that it doesn’t take much effort to combat isolation. “Simply taking a moment to connect with someone, even through a brief phone call, can reduce feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression and provide brain-protective benefits,” Kaiser says.

Don’t neglect your dream

It’s easy to take advantage of designated sleep time when life gets busy, but experts say it’s important to make sleep a priority for longevity and overall health. Research shows that lack of sleep, especially in middle age, can increase the risk of developing dementia by 30%.

It’s generally recommended that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, but Aggarwal acknowledges that everyone is different. Still, he stresses the importance of sleep for health and mood. “Nothing can make up for sleep,” he says. “Most people know how much sleep they need to feel good; try to get it.”

Do what you can to manage stress

Stress is inevitable, but it’s important to manage it as best as possible, says Aggarwal. “Having healthy coping strategies, including mindfulness meditation, can help,” he says.

Bringing your attention to your breathing and finding things you appreciate about your life “can start a very positive cascade of events in your mind and body,” Kaiser says. “This simple practice can unlock the power of mediation and help curb stress while initiating a relaxation response in the body.” That, in turn, can slow your heart rate, relax blood vessels to lower blood pressure and improve mood, she says.

Managing stress also includes doing everything you can to avoid being hard on yourself when you can’t make healthy choices all the time. “If you’re not able to incorporate these things all the time, don’t feel guilty,” Aggarwal says. “Feeling guilty is even worse for your health.”

This article contains affiliate links; If you click on that link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.

By Sam