We all want to live as long as possible, right? The question is, what can you do to attain that goal? There’s a lot of conflicting information out there on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to improving your longevity – the obvious answers being eat healthy and exercise regularly. But what about other lifestyle habits? Below, Dr. Ali Ghahary gives you the answer to this question and more.
As mentioned, lifestyle plays a major role when it comes to preventing early death. Some of the most common risk factors for early death (and other serious health complications) include: Tobacco use, alcohol consumption, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.
Tobacco is a significant risk factor for premature death because it can cause things like COPD, cardiovascular disease, and even lung cancer. If you are a smoker, Dr. Ali Ghahary says it’s important to quit. However, breaking that habit isn’t always easy and you may need some help along the way. To help get you started, check out Dr. Ghahary’s smoking cessation tips. If you’re unable to quit on your own and feel like you need addition support or guidance, Dr. Ghahary is more than happy to see patients on a walk-in basis at Brentwood Medical Clinic.
When it comes to alcohol, excessive and long-term drinking can increase the risk of cancer (specifically cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx and liver) as well as have other negative impacts on the body. When alcohol is combined with tobacco use, your risk of developing cancer increases exponentially. To avoid the health risks associated with alcohol consumption, Dr. Ali Ghahary says you need to make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink – for example, if you like to enjoy a glass of wine when dining out at a restaurant or during social occasions (such as birthdays, work parties, etc.), limit yourself to just one glass instead of two (the same goes for any other type of alcoholic beverage.) If you’re someone who drinks alcohol on more than just social occasions, you should reduce your access to alcohol as well as make the switch from alcoholic beverages to ones that are non-alcoholic. Just like smoking, however, alcohol can also be hard to give up. If you find yourself craving alcohol on a regular basis or go through withdrawals when not drinking, you could suffer from alcoholism and may need to enter into a substance abuse/treatment program for help.
Another common cause of early death is due to high blood pressure, which can cause the arteries to become blocked and may lead to a stroke and other serious health complications. Along with alcohol and tobacco use, other risk factors for high blood pressure include lack of physical activity, having a diet high in sodium, and even stress. You may also be at risk of developing high blood pressure if it already runs in your family. To keep your systolic and diastolic levels where they need to be, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends patients exercise for at least 30 minutes per day and lose any excess weight. In addition, you should also reduce or completely eliminate your salt intake, and include more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Similarly, high cholesterol can also increase your risk of having a stroke. Certain medical conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, may also influence your cholesterol levels. To lower your cholesterol, you should increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, consume at least 2 servings of fish per week (salmon is a great option for combating high cholesterol and also prevents heart disease), and reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet. What you eat is essential when it comes to so many aspects of our health, and it’s important to remain eating healthy – not just to meet short-term goals, but over the long-term as well – because when we eat healthy, we feel healthy…and when we feel healthy, we feel happier.