A Longer Life through Ups and Downs

A Longer Life through Ups and Downs

We live much longer than our ancestors before us. Centuries ago, just living past 40 was a sight to behold, but a mix of advanced technology, education, and medicine have allowed for our prolonged survival and extended life expectancies. Are there things you can do to further perpetuate your lifespan?

Some Help from a Down Economy

While there are tons of thing you can do yourself, you may get some unexpected help from our current economy. In a recent column, Peter Orszag noted the strange correlation between a down economy and the average lifespan.

Peter Orszag, vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup, notes that during recessions, life expectancy rises, which goes against what most people would expect. After all, stress from financial matters would only seem to take years off of your life, but Peter Orszag states the numbers, showing how projected life expectancy at birth rose to 78.7 years in 2010. In 2007, life expectancy was 77.9 years.

Even stranger, life expectancy seems to have risen more in states with large increases of unemployment. It’s hard to explain why this happens and there are no doubt dozens of factors at work.

Eating to a Longer Life

Of course, we can’t always rely on a down economy—in most cases, you would probably rather live through more prosperous times. Instead, consider your diet.

Most people assume that a “good diet” means eating less. On the contrary, a good, balanced diet means eating more of the things that are good for you. Incorporate a lot of fiber into your diet, eat fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water, and so on. You have probably heard this spiel hundreds of times in your life.

The goal with a proper diet is to limit, not eliminate, fattening and unhealthy foods. If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, try to find proper substitutes, but if you find yourself dipping into some ice cream, don’t beat yourself up about it. You will not achieve eating perfection, so give yourself a break.

You might have to be a little stricter if you’re overweight. Being at least 20% overweight can put a big damper on your healthy lifestyle. Consider weight loss and diet programs, or do some research into portion control. Remember that starvation isn’t a healthy means of losing weight. Eat more, but eat the good stuff.

And there’s no point in living a long life if you can’t enjoy its fruits. If you’ve been eating well for six days out of the week, it’s okay to enjoy a burger on the seventh. The 80/20 Rule allows for 20% variation from the ideal. Unless you’re in training or have a medical condition, it’s okay to reserve one day a week for special treats.

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