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Want to live till the ripe old age of 100? The burgeoning field of longevity research reveals that up to two-thirds of our lifespan is determined by certain lifestyle factors proven to extend or shorten it. Anna Magee asks the experts how to go about improving your chances...
15 years: Eat like a Greek
A Mediterranean diet of fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, and lashings of olive oil may add 15 years to your life span, reveals a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Scientists now believe it can go a long way to preventing Australia's two biggest killers, heart disease and cancer, and lower your risk of Alzheimer's and dementia Australia's third biggest cause of death by 40 percent.
"Eating oily fish twice a week, multiple vegetables, a preference for low-fat dairy, olive oil and not adding salt to your food will reduce risk of heart disease and death by up to 25 per cent in people over 45," says Professor James Tatoulis from the National Heart Foundation.
-3 years: Overdo the merlot
…or the beer, chardonnay or margaritas. Some drinking can be good for your heart, say experts, but too much, too often can shorten your life. "Up to two standard drinks a day for men and one for women may improve good cholesterol levels and help reduce fibrinogen (a clotting factor), translating into less cardiovascular disease," says Tatoulis. "But alcohol beyond this is detrimental as it leads to damage to heart muscles, liver and brain," he says. It can also lead to osteoporosis, memory problems and dementia. Lots of reasons to stop at one or two.
+7.5 years: Embrace your age!
Feeling good about growing older is a leading factor in actually living longer. Researchers at Yale University conducted a study of 660 seniors and found that those who had a positive attitude to old age at the start of the study lived an average of seven-and-a-half years
Make it even better
"Never say 'I'm too old'," says Dr Trish MacNair, a GP and author of The Long Life Equation (Hardie Grant, $19.95). "Thinking old is the quickest step to demise. Relish challenges, learn new skills and set new goals. Scorn convention and if there is something you really want to do, find a way to do it whatever your age."
-5 years: Too much TV
Love Family Guy a little too much? An analysis of Australian lifestyle data found that every hour people over 25 spent watching TV could shave nearly 22 minutes off their lives. In fact, people who watched six hours or more per day shortened their lives by five years! Try to keep your TV time to two hours or less a day and, if you have net access on your TV, activate screen time with an amazing yoga class at yogaglo.com, shot at LA celeb yoga haunt Yoga Glo.
For the full story, see the March issue of Good Health. Subscribe to 12 issues of Good Health for $59.95 and receive two free cookbooks The 21-Day Diet Planner and After Work Healthy.