How does one live longer? Brain health expert shares what you must do

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This image shows an elderly couple. — Pexels
This image shows an elderly couple. — Pexels

Some things are out of your control when it comes to living a long life, but if you are looking for ways to extend your life span or want to help your parents and grandparents extend theirs, a brain health expert has some tips for you.

According to Fox News Digital, Dr Gary Small, a memory, brain and ageing expert at Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey, says: "For the average individual, everyday behaviours under our own control have a greater impact on healthy longevity than genetics."

The behavioural health expert revealed the four most important behaviours that could help individuals live a longer, healthier life.

Positivity

Small, citing scientific evidence, shared that keeping a positive outlook helps us live longer and healthier

"Optimists have fewer physical and emotional difficulties, experience less pain, enjoy higher energy levels and are generally happier and calmer in their lives," he said.

Small shared research indicates that consciously boosting optimism can improve the body's immune system, enabling it to better fight infection. Expressing gratitude can also boost optimism levels.

Staying active

A woman jogging outside. — Pixabay
A woman jogging outside. — Pixabay

Studies have shown that regular physical activity extends life expectancy.

"Cardiovascular conditioning improves circulation, elevates endorphins and proteins that strengthen brain cellular communication, and boosts heart health," Small said.

Experts suggest a combination of strength training and aerobic exercise, starting with slow, modest goals and gradually building stamina. He suggested beginners find an enjoyable exercise program like jogging, cycling, swimming, yoga, spinning or pickleball.

Eating well

A young girl eating an orange. — Pixabay
A young girl eating an orange. — Pixabay

Small said that a healthy diet can greatly impact life expectancy as it lowers the risk of heart disease, cancer and other age-related illnesses.

"Obesity in mid-life increases the risk for dementia later in life, so portion control protects brain health," he said.

He also highlighted the benefits of "omega-3 fats from fish and nuts" in reducing inflammation, which can "damage the brain and heart".

Additionally, he noted that antioxidant fruits and vegetables "reduce age-related oxidative stress, which can cause wear and tear on cells throughout the body".

Small warned against consumption of processed foods and refined sugars to lower the risk of diabetes, a condition linked to increased dementia risk.

Stress management

A woman meditating in a park. — Unsplash
A woman meditating in a park. — Unsplash

The doctor suggests incorporating a stress reduction program into daily routines to lessen the increased risk of dementia and heart problems due to chronic stress.

"Meditation and relaxation exercises support healthy longevity," he said. "Just 10 minutes of daily meditation not only improves mood, it also boosts cognitive abilities."