- Cameron Oglesby
Medical research reveals 7 totally unexpected ways to live longer. (Flossing your teeth is one.)
Did you know that flossing your teeth can help you live an average of 6.3 years longer? That’s what Dr. Michael Roizen writes in his book, Real Age.
The same bacteria that cause periodontal disease can infect and swell your arteries, constricting blood flow and leading to heart attacks and strokes. Periodontal disease also elevates white blood cell count, stressing your immune system and making it harder to fight off infection.
That’s one unexpected way of adding years to your life. Here are six more:
Be born in the right season. A University of Chicago study showed that people born in autumn months (September, October and November) were much more likely, and people born in spring months much less likely, to live to 100 or more. A 2011 Journal of Aging Research article on the study cites some possible reasons. One is that autumn babies tend to have higher birth weights than spring babies. Another is that the warm, generally pleasant months leading up to autumn births offer less exposure to infectious diseases than the cold, blustery months preceding spring births.
Live where the rich do. Medical researchers have long known that upper-income people – who tend to smoke less, exercise more, watch their diets, and have more to spend on medical care – live longer. But, surprisingly, so do lower-income people who live near them. After going through more than 1.4 billion Social Security and tax records to measure the relationship between income and life expectancy, a 2016 study found that poor people who live in expensive, well-educated cities, like New York, tend to live up to three or four years longer than low-income people in less affluent cities, like Tulsa.
Don’t become a hermit. Living the life of a loner is as bad for health and longevity as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic, more harmful than not exercising, and twice as harmful as obesity. That’s what Brigham Young University researchers concluded after analyzing data from 148 previous studies that measured frequency of human interaction and tracked health outcomes for an average of 7½ years. Social ties – even negative social ties – give you a 50 percent lower chance of death. Your friends, relatives, colleagues, poker buddies or gal pals can literally help keep you alive.
Be religious. Over an 80-year span, the Longevity Project examined the lifespans of more than 1,500 children, starting in 1921. Religious people – particularly religious women – tended to live longer. One reason was the social involvement (see above). Also, the religious values of helping others (particularly the sick) help many religious people find purpose and meaning in their lives. People who pray together stay together and help each other stay healthy.
Dust the shelves, vacuum the rugs, wash the car, or play with the grandkids. Even if you don’t exercise regularly, getting up out of your comfy chair and up on your feet for daily physical activities will cut your risk of a heart attack or stroke by 27 percent and your risk of dying from any cause by 30 percent, according to Swedish researchers. It’ll shrink your waistline – to say nothing of giving you a neat, clean house.
Live near green spaces. A study of more than 100,000 American women linked living around nature, particularly green spaces, to nearly 12 percent lower mortality rates. Specifically, women living around green spaces were nearly 13 percent less likely to die from cancer and 34 percent less vulnerable to respiratory-related mortality (thanks to less air pollution). You don’t have to live on a farm or out in the woods in the middle of nowhere; near a city park or in a green, leafy suburb will do just fine. The physical activity of walking to and through the park and social engagement with people you meet in the park or on the way will also be good for you.
Of course, there’s no way to guarantee your life will be longer. But a 30-minute consultation with us can show you ways to make it healthier, more comfortable and happier.