The Queen’s Birthday: what’s her health secret?

  1. Be an optimist

A 2017 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found a clear link between optimism and a longer life. The study looked at 70,000 women aged between 58 and 83 and found that the more positive participants were less likely to die from heart disease, cancer or lung problems.

2.Don’t worry – be happy!

A study from researchers at University College London and the University of Edinburgh analysed subjects from 1994 until 2004 and found that stress can increase the chances of early death from heart failure, stroke or cancer. Taking time to relax could save your life!

Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment was 122 years old when she died in 1997, making her the oldest person in recorded history. She was also the queen of not worrying about things and was reportedly heard to tell people: “Why flap? There’s nothing you can do about it.”

3. Be responsible

According to The Longevity Project, people who look after the little details tend to live longer than those who live a ‘happy go lucky’ philosophy.

4.Never stop learning

On the other hand, don’t allow your brain to relax too much. The Longevity Project, one of the most famous studies in how to live longer, tracked 1,500 people for eight decades. It found that taxing your brain a little was actually good, and that people who took early retirement didn’t live as long.
You can be as creative as you like here. A year before he died aged 110 in 2016, Alfred Date tried his hand at knitting for the first time. He ended up making jumpers for injured penguins. Which we can all agree is just lovely.

5.Look after number one

When Besse Cooper, who lived to the age of 116, was asked for her advice on longevity, she suggested the art of minding your own business. We know that stress is a factor in ageing, so taking on more than your fair share isn’t going to help.

6.Eat Less

Your metabolism slows as you get older, which makes obesity and its associated health problems more likely. The Okinawan people of Japan have a very healthy diet and only eat small portions. It’s no coincidence that they have one of the world’s lowest rates of obesity and many people living beyond 100.

Japanese communications worker Jiroemon Kimura was the oldest man in recorded history when died aged 116 in 2013. He was once asked what he felt was key to a long, healthy life. He only had one answer, and that was smaller portions.

7.Drink tea

Just two cups of tea a day could improve your chances of living longer. Tea contains catechins, which relax your blood vessels and keep your heart healthy, and useful antioxidants called polyphenols, which fight heart disease and signs of ageing. Black or green tea will work equally well.

8.Eat eggs

There’s a lot of conflicting information about eggs. Until 2007, the British Heart Foundation advised not eating more than three a week, due to their cholesterol content. This is no longer the case, and eggs are generally seen as a source of ‘good fats’, as well as other nutrients.

When Emma Morano died aged 117 in 2017, she was the last remaining person to have been born in the 1800s. One of her health secrets was a diet that featured three eggs every day – two of them raw!

9.Use olive oil in unexpected ways

Olive oil forms part of the Mediterranean diet, widely considered one of the healthiest in the world. While using it in cooking can help your heart, 122-year-old Jeanne Calment used to rub it on her skin every day. It sounds strange, but she was the oldest person ever, so there must be something in it!

10.Keep in touch with friends

Talking to friends and family makes us feel good, which releases dopamine into our brains that helps keep them healthier for longer. Studies suggest that six is the ideal number of close relationships you need in order to keep your mind sharp.

It seems that the closer the relationship, the better it is for your health. Twins Paulette Olivier and Simone Thiot (104) and Pieter and Paulus Langerock (103) all say that being inseparable from their sibling has helped them keep going.

11. Be choosy about your spouse

It turns out that settling down may not be the best solution if a long life is your goal. According to The Longevity Project, “getting and staying married is not the magic ticket to long life, especially if you’re a woman”. It’s a piece of advice that many of the world’s oldest women appear to have followed.

12.Have sex

Various longevity studies have found that people who have sex at least twice a week are less likely to die prematurely. Sex can lower stress and improve heart health, while an active sex life also brings you closer to your partner, which is known to have a positive effect on your health.

13. Study your family

A 2016 study from the American College of Cardiology showed that the age your immediate relatives die can offer a clue to your own likely lifespan. Also, if lots of relatives suffered from the same illness, you should take special care to protect yourself and have any necessary check-ups regularly.

14.Get a dog

The entertainment and companionship you’ll get from a dog has a calming effect that will reduce stress. This in turn lowers your blood pressure and protects your heart health. Dogs also need to be walked, so you’ll have much more incentive to get your 30 minutes of exercise per day.

15.Say yes to the test

While undergoing lots of medical tests is no one’s idea of fun, remember that they’re designed to catch illnesses early, when they’re easier to treat. It’s also worth visiting the doctor more regularly as you get older, even if it’s just for an annual check-up.

16.Get the right amount of exercise

In 1981, researchers from California gave 14,000 60- to 70-year-old retirement home residents a health questionnaire and revisited them every six months. They found that participants who exercised for around 45 minutes a day lived the longest. Any more made little difference.

17.Get enough sleep

How much sleep is ‘enough’? Researchers at Harvard University studied people who normally slept for seven hours or fewer per night. They found that increasing sleep time by just one hour lowered participants’ blood pressure, along with the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

18.Look after your teeth

There’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that gum disease is linked to an increased risk of serious health issues later in life, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Gum disease is caused by bacteria and it’s thought that these can spread from your mouth to other areas of your body.

19.Get enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps protect you against heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer, all of which carry an increased risk as you get older. Getting plenty of sunlight is important (as long as you don’t burn!), while there are also Vitamin D supplements you can take to keep yourself topped up.

20.Sing and laugh

Outbursts of positive emotion are yet another way to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and prompt your brain to release more dopamine. There are lots of studies that show people tend to laugh less as they get older, so try and be the exception to this rule!

Chief Medical Officer Dr Adam Simon at Push Doctor?


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