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Lifestyle Choices

The Choices We Make
Most pathological diseases of aging and prematurely shortened lifespans are the result of lifestyles choices - behavioral and interactions with the environment.  Fewer than 30 percent of the factors that contribute to aging-related disease and longevity are related to inherited genetics.  Unhealthy choices may lead to a functional biologic age equivalent to someone 15-20 years older.

This fact is made very clear in a study that has been ongoing for more than 60 years. The Grant Study of Adult Development along with two other studies equally long-lived found that very little of the illnesses in the subjects, ranging from 50 to 85 years in age, could be attributed to genetics.  The vast majority of health problems experienced by the subjects resulted from lifestyle choices.  Unhealthier lifestyle choices, including smoking, negative attitudes, obesity, physical inactivity, heavy alcohol consumption, and social isolation, were more likely to predict illness or death.
Longevity Lifestyle Choices
Environmental, Chemical Substance and Toxin Exposure
Save your Skin - Time does not do that much to our skin.  But the sun does; approximately 90% of the changes that occur with age result from the sun.  

Environmental Toxins
Tobacco - In addition to lung cancer, there are a myriad of other diseases caused by tobacco use.
Smoking causes most COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) cases, approximately 85%, including emphysema. Do not smoke and avoid exposure to second hand smoke. Do not chew tobacco.

Dioxin:  Dioxin is one of the most potent carcinogens known.  When you wrap your food in plastic, then microwave it, you create carcinogens from the dioxin in the plastics.

Mercury: is one of the worst toxins in the environment.  You can help move mercury out of your system by eating chlorella prior to eating fish. Chlorella is a type of algae, sold as a food supplement.  Neutralize mercury within the body using selenium supplementation, 200-400 mcg per day.

Cleaners: Avoid commercial household cleaners.  Instead, use vinegar and water.

Toxic Air: Outgassing from building materials and carpets can reach high levels, particularly in tightly insulated homes.  Use stand-alone air filters and houseplants.  Open the windows.  Use natural floorings or ceramic tile rather than carpets.  Office machines can release toxic fumes.  Move printers, copiers, and fax machines as far as possible from your workspace; ventilate the area where these machines are used. Use radon mitigation systems if your home tests high in radon.  Avoid air pollution and environmental toxins.  Use high quality air purification systems for your home.

Noise:  people could avoid most hearing loss if they were not exposed to loud noises.  Very little hearing loss is noted in primitive tribes, but 60% of college freshmen in the U.S. already have evidence of diminished hearing.

Food:  Alcohol - Drink alcohol in moderation, unless you have a family or personal history of alcohol or other substance abuse, or a liver disorder.
Eat organic: Avoid animal products containing hormones and antibiotics.   Avoid genetically engineered produce, grown with synthetic fertilizers and sprayed with chemical pesticides.

Drink purified water:  Drinking water may contain over seven hundred chemicals. Wash produce adequately before consumption. Microwave your food in glass; do not use plastic wrap. Drink form glass bottles.

Address drug abuse and addiction

Transportation:  Always wear a helmet when riding a bike or motorcycle. Take proper precautions when driving a car. Whether you are talking on a cell hone, chomping on a burger, or changing CDs, doing more than driving could lead to disaster.

Health Maintenance

Dental Hygiene:  A university study found that only 16% of the men in the study flossed their teeth at least 4 times per week.  Most people are missing a great opportunity to live longer with such a simple activity.
Begin with a dental rinse (e.g., Plax) to loosen plaque prior to brushing. Use a non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste.  Brush with an electric toothbrush (e.g., Braun 3-D or Sonicare) two to three times daily.  These electric brushes can remove 10% more plaque than a manual brush.  Rinse with a mouthwash designed to kill organisms which cause plaque (e.g., Listerine)
Floss daily:  Use a fluoride rinse once daily (e.g., ACT). Consider using a tongue scraper daily

Infectious Disease Prevention:  Vaccines are among the great success stories in public health and are among the most cost-effective health interventions.  The burden of vaccine-preventable diseases in adults in the U.S. is staggering. Approximately 43,000 U.S. adults die annually of vaccine-preventable diseases.  Update and maintain your vaccinations.

Wash your hands frequently throughout the day, especially during cold and flu season.  Ten to twenty times per day may not be obsessive compulsive if in fact you are exposed to many people.
Stay alert to disease threats when you travel:  Get all the recommended vaccinations. Do not ever drink untreated water while hiking or camping.  Tell your doctor if an infection does not improve after you have taken a full course of antibiotics.

Dental examinations every 6 months.
Eye examinations, including eye dilation, every 2 years.
Mammograms and Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging for breast cancer, every 1-2 years.
Pap Smears for cervical cancer yearly.
Colonoscopy for colon cancer every 3 (with findings) or every 5 years (if no findings).
Bone Density examination for osteoporosis.
Prostate Screening for cancer.  PSA, free PSA, and annual digital rectal exam, age 40 and over.
Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) or Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) every 3 years.
Lipid Profile annually.
Thyroid Profile for hypothyroidism or low functioning thyroid - beginning at age 35, and at least every 5 years.
Blood Pressure screen - Annual screening of adults age 18 and older for hypertension, if no previous high blood pressure.
Ovarian Cancer screen annually.

Address your Health Problems and Risk Factors:  Excessive body fat, Hypertension, Hyperlipidemia, Hormone imbalances, Elevated homocysteine, Elevated hs-CRP, Elevated lipoprotein (a), and Chronic diseases. Use your medications exactly as prescribed.  Do not self-medicate with antibiotics or lend your medicine to anyone.

Nurture Your Mind and Intellect:  Growing evidence indicates that rather than your mind fading with old age, you can take steps to help keep your brain sharp.

Avoid making a grocery shopping list:  Instead, invent a system to help you remember all the items you need.  Play games involving logical activities.  Play card games or board games of strategy, e.g. chess, checkers. Crossword puzzles.

Reaction speed and manual dexterity:  Play ping-pong or tennis.  Play a musical instrument.

Get and remain Creative:  Assemble jigsaw puzzles. Creative minds have greater tolerance for the uncertainties of life that so often is a source of unnecessary stress for the rest of us.  Have you always wanted to paint, sculpt, act, invent, compose music, design, grow flowers, arrange flowers, write, etc? What is stopping you?  Maintain a belief in your capacity to give something of value that may endure, nurture, teach, or comfort. Model your efforts on those people whom you admire. Allow yourself to be surprised.

Manage your Time and your Priorities: 
Set priorities.  Realize that you can only do so much in a day.  Your priorities should address the needs of your whole being - physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual.
Organize your day.  Avoid the pitfall of always letting the immediate demands control your life.  Create a definite plan for the day based on your priorities. Delegate.  You can not do everything yourself.  Learn to train and depend on others. Tackle tough jobs first. Minimize meeting time. Avoid letting tasks build up.  Do not put off until tomorrow the things you can do today.  Plan ahead. Do not be a perfectionist.  You can never really achieve perfection anyway.  Do your best in a reasonable amount of time and then move on to other important tasks.