In life we are only guaranteed one thing: death. As morbid as it seems, it’s the only thing that’s a given, and as a result, the goal for everyone is to put it off as long as possible and life a healthy, happy and long life.
Life expectancy has been measured since 1841 and predicts how long a person is expected to live as a reflection of medical care and lifestyle factors. Back then, a person would be lucky to reach middle age which, by today’s standard, is not considered a long life at all. Since we first started measuring life expectancy, it has almost doubled.
In 1841, newborns were not expected to live beyond their 43rd birthday due to disease running rife, infant mortality being high and a generally poor standard of living. In 2011 (when the last life expectancy study was made) females could expect to live to 82 and males could expect to live to 79. This is thanks to the better treatment or complete eradication of certain diseases, better healthcare, and a better understanding of what equates to a healthy lifestyle.
We are continually learning about what can increase our life expectancy, and for the most part, how you choose to live your life is one of the biggest contributing factors. You might have a genetic predisposition to diseases like breast cancer, and you might find undergoing treatment like a precautionary mastectomy could reduce your chances of developing the disease and requiring treatment through something like a radiotherapy MR Linac machine (which could increase your risk of a secondary cancer). For things like this, it’s largely out of your control, but there are many ways you can increase your life expectancy by minimizing bad health, and here are three easy ones.
You might think flossing is only good for keeping your teeth in tip top shape (which it is), but oral hygiene is paramount to heart health, and that’s why looking after your teeth is essential beyond preventing gum disease and bad breath. By flossing, you’re preventing bacteria (plaque) that builds up in your mouth finding its way to your arteries, and anything that prevents interference with your arteries is only ever a good thing.
2. Go Vegetarian
Making the decision to go vegetarian or vegan is one that is usually done in an effort to preserve the environment and the welfare of livestock. Of course, the health of the planet impacts life expectancy, but so does the impact of not eating meat at all. Vegetarians are less likely to consume bad fats and be obese, and this reduces the risk of heart disease which is the number one cause of death worldwide.
3. Reduce Stress
Reducing your stress levels is easier said than done, but it can be influenced by making life changes that cut out main stress triggers where possible. Whether that’s in the form of changing jobs, removing negative people or taking time out for yourself. Not only does minimizing your stress benefit your mental health, it also reduces the chances of you engaging in coping mechanisms like smoking and comfort eating which can have detrimental effects to your health in the form of increasing the risk of cancer, obesity and heart disease.
It’s likely as we advance in healthcare that overall life expectancy will increase as a result, but largely, how long a person lives can largely be put down to how they choose to live their life. These are just three simple ways you can increase your life expectancy, but ensuring you exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and take up any medical tests offered like a smear test, prostate exam and going to the dentist regularly will also have a positive impact in how long you can expect to live.