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These simple health tips may prolong your lifespan

Lifespan, also referred to as longevity, is the duration of an individual’s existence. Human longevity has continued to increase over time. Factors that influence longevity include genetics, the environment, natural events, human activities, advances in medical care, and even our individual habits. Some of these factors aren’t within your control. But there are simple things you can do to positively influence a longer and healthier life.

Observational data on communities that live longest have continuously come up with simple habits that appear to explain their longevity. High on the list is physical activities. Those who live longer appear to be constantly on the move, mostly on their feet. They use every excuse to walk, run around, and do some physical chore. Granted, this is easier for rural communities. But you too can find a way. Review your daily activities and take advantage of all the missed opportunities for keeping yourself active. Take the stairs, walk to the shops, skip the daily drive occasionally, walk or jog round the neighborhood, help with household chores, or join the gym if that’s better for you.

Watch what you eat. Plant-based foods are linked with longer and healthier lifespans. Eat more and more fruits and veggies. Nuts have a special advantage with fibre and good fats, take a handful daily. Healthy eating will reduce your cholesterol levels, cut down your risk of type 2 diabetes, improve your cardiovascular health, reduce risks of some cancers, and will keep your bowels functioning optimally. You must also eat less. Aiming for about 80% full keeps your metabolic state in good stead, maintaining a good balance between energy expenditure and storage. Your risk of becoming overweight is lower, with consequent lower risks of obesity-related and life-limiting conditions.

What you drink also matters. The good, old, plain water ranks best. Drink lots of it. It will help with your digestion, keep your major organs functioning well, and will help clear any toxins in your body. You may ask about the odd glass of red wine, and the reported cardiovascular benefits. The scientific evidence isn’t straight forward, but you shouldn’t start drinking alcohol if you don’t already. If you do, keep yourself strictly within recommended amounts, or stop if the temptation tips you over to the other side.

Longer-living communities have very strong social connections. The association between social bonds and longevity is now well-recognized. It’s all to do with supportive environments, purposeful living and social inculcation of healthy habits. Don’t keep yourself isolated, you will die quicker. You should also take ample time off to relax and re-invigorate. And sleep more. This is especially a good boost for your immunity and mental health. Do it often, and your lifespan days will add up.

This isn’t an exhaustive list for a healthier and longer life. But it’s a simple start.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist. amurage@mygyno.co.ke

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