Is It Too Late to Be Healthy?

New research confirms it’s never too late to get healthy! Learn lifestyle habits and how to take the first step on the road to a flourishing future.

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Have you ever tried to make a healthy change but quickly given up because you told yourself it's too late to make lasting changes? New research confirms, it’s never too late to get healthy! Learn the lifestyle habits of the longest living cultures and 6 simple steps to get you on the road to a flourishing future. 

Research confirms: it’s not too late to get healthy 

Recent research reinforced that It’s never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle. One study suggested that when people modified healthy behaviors in early elder years, they were more likely to live into their 90s and have a better quality of life. The most influential behaviors included smoking abstinence, weight management, blood pressure control, and regular exercise (1). 

Lifestyles of the longer living  

A National Geographic expedition, led by a team of demographers, scientists, and anthropologists, uncovered areas where people reach age 100 at ten times greater chances when compared to the United States. They coined these areas the Blue Zones. The Blue Zones include: Loma Linda, CA, USA; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Ikaria, Greece; and Okinawa, Japan (2). 

What characteristics did the habitants of these regions share?...

  • Move naturally: rather than the focus being on gyms or marathons, these people live in environments that encourage them to get daily movement such as growing gardens, walking, and doing housework. 
  • Purpose: knowing your “why” and what you value will create an increased sense of purpose and keep you motivated. 
  • De-stress: everybody experiences stress but the people in these areas take a few moments each day to slow down and rest and reflect
  • 80% rule: eat until you’re about 80% full. These people also eat the smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening then don’t eat for the rest of the day.
  • Plant focused: the diets of these people is mainly plant-based (with beans including fava, black, soy, and lentils) and meat is eaten an average of only five times per month.
  • Limited wine: If you drink, drink moderately. People in the Blue Zones have no more than one to two glasses with friends and food.
  • Sense of belonging: most people belong to some faith-based community. 
  • Loved ones first: even busy and successful people put their families first by keeping parents and grandparents nearby and committing to a life partner with time invested in their children. 
  • Right tribe: chose to live in social circles that support healthy behaviors (2). 

6 simple steps: start getting healthy today

Using the Blue Zone’s healthy behaviors, and Mediterranean diet principles as a guide, we created simple steps to help you get started on your healthy quest -- at any age and any time. 

Put plants in every meal

Plant-based eating is an effective way to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood sugar, and elevated cholesterol (3). They can also help you feel full, adding lots of nutrients with not a lot of extra calories. 

Try out a plant-based diet with Lifesum.

Switch to whole grains 

Whole grains contain energy enhancing nutrients such as B vitamins and gut health balancing fiber. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that at least half of the grains you eat to be whole (4). Whole grains include whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and bulgur. 

Sub healthy fats  

Replacing foods high in saturated fats (full-fat dairy, meat, cakes, biscuits, pastries) with foods high in monounsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts, flax seeds, sunflower seeds) can help better heart health, decrease inflammation, and boost mood (5). 

Just keep moving 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get 150 minutes of exercise each week (6). But they emphasize that this could be by moving more and sitting less throughout the day. Start small by taking a walk around the block or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. 

Make time for your mind 

Neuroplasticity is a term that means your brain can form new pathways. Just like how you would build muscle when going to the gym, you can improve the strength of your brain by learning a new activity. Aim for something unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone, something that’s challenging, a skill you can build on, and rewarding. Learning a new instrument or new language is an example. 

Step-up sleep quality

Sleep is a vital factor for your overall health. Long-term sleep deprivation can negatively affect heart health and mental wellbeing while increasing your risk for diabetes and stroke (7). Prioritize those seven to nine hours of sleep.

Have trouble getting in those Zzzs? Try this: 7 Tips to Help You Fall Asleep Fast 

On route to a new routine 

It’s never too late and it’s never too early to start taking care of yourself. Set realistic goals and check in with your physician before starting a new nutrition or fitness routine. 

You’ve already taken the first step by reading this article! Which of the above are you going to try next? 

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All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice. If you have or think you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, do not use the Lifesum app and seek immediate medical help.