THE key to living a long and healthy life could be found inside the humble blueberry, a top scientist has said.
Biologist Dr Cynthia Kenyon believes the best medicine for extending your lifespan can be found in simple ingredients rather than complex anti-aging drugs.
Blueberries have long been hailed as a superfood due to being high in antioxidants, which can slow the aging process and protect against DNA damage and cancer.
Research has shown that a long life expectancy is closely linked to nutrition, lifestyle and exercise, all of which can be improved with very little time and money.
Alex Lloyd reveals ten simple and surprising tricks to add years to your life.
Don’t finish dinner + 20 years
YOUR mum might have told you to polish your grub, but leaving a bit of food is good for you, as people from Okinawa in Japan can vouch for.
The region has 68 people over the age of 100 per 100,000 citizens – three times more than the UK – and, until recently, had the highest life expectancy of anywhere in the country.
Experts put their famed longevity down to a traditional, mostly plant-based diet, high in green and yellow vegetables, and low in calories.
They tend to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 per cent full.
Have kids + 3 years
THERE may be days when you feel your kids are aging you prematurely, but parents benefit more in the longevity stakes compared to people without children.
One theory, from Germany’s Max-Planck Institute for Demographic Research, is that biological mothers are less likely to get ovarian or uterine cancer, although men are also said to benefit.
Adoptive parents also gain extra years.
Use a coloring book + 10 years
YOU don’t need to be Da Vinci to reap the rewards of creating a work of art.
Just 30 to 45 minutes of daily creative practice of any kind reduces stress levels and helps us continue to learn, says leading neurologist Professor Susan Magsamen in her book, Your Brain On Art.
This includes everything from coloring and painting to dancing and making music.
Take up golf + 5 years
GETTING out on the green is good fun and tee-rific for adding years to your life.
A Swedish study found golfers live an average of five years longer than those who do not play.
This is due to a mix of exercise, socializing and the mental-health benefits of being outdoors.
Smile more + 2 years
HERE’S a reason to smile in your photos.
US researchers studied the snaps of former pro-baseball players and found those with the biggest grins lived an average of seven more years.
Smiles are thought to reflect true happiness, which helps physical and mental health.
Go shopping + 5 years
GOING on a regular shopping spree reduces mortality rates, with daily shoppers 27 per cent less likely to die early.
The benefits are less to do with buying goods and more to do with walking and socializing, according to the study of over 65-year-olds in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
A late-night online spree won’t add years to your life, so it’s a good excuse to hit the high street.
Floss your teeth + 6 years
DAILY flossing won’t just keep your pearly whites in top condition.
A study in the Journal of Aging Research found people who never floss had a 30 per cent higher risk of death.
Flossing prevents gums from being infected and stops the chronic build up of bacteria, which is believed to damage the heart.
Eat beans on toast + 10 years
EATING plenty of legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas is one of the greatest dietary indicators of whether you will live to an old age, according to researchers.
They are a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals, complex carbohydrates and fiber, plus low fat and salt.
And a study published in 2021 found you could add an extra decade by limiting meat and eating nuts and whole grains.
Only drink with meals + 10 years
YOU don’t need to cut booze in pursuit of reaching old age.
One of the secrets behind the Mediterranean diet – rich in fruit, veg, fish, pulses and olive oil and proven to increase life expectancy – is that communities drink their red wine with food, not outside of meal time.
When accompanied by food, wine is absorbed into the blood stream slowly, says epidemiologist Marialaura Bonaccio, from the Italian Ministry of Health.
This safeguards the liver and means the body enjoys the antioxidant benefits of the wine without the negative impact.
Read a book + 2 years
ENJOYING a good book for 30 minutes a day can lead to a happier ending in your life.
A study in Social Science & Medicine found that bookworms over 50 survived for two years longer than non-readers.
This extended lifespan was uninfluenced by “gender, wealth, education or health”, according to Yale University researchers.