Dr. Zach’s Magnificent 7: Ways to Live Longer and Healthier

Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash

Photo above:  The vibrant lady on the left is Dr. Zach’s mom Eleanor, showing everyone how living healthier and longer is done


Dr. Zach’s Magnificent Seven ways to live longer and healthier

by Dr. Zach  2019


  1. The problem with Top 5 articles, health secrets, and diet books.

(no secrets, and nothing you don’t already know).

But maybe you don’t know the top ones.  Studies show that up to 75% of our longevity (not to mention quality of life) is determined by things we can control.


  1. Dr. Zach’s Magnificent 7 Ways to Live Longer and Healthier:

-Don’t smoke

-Eat well (and control your glucose)

-Control your weight

-Stay active

-Drink in moderation (if you drink)

-Build a strong social network

-Get a regular doctor and be screened

Top  out of these:  Don’t smoke, be active, build a strong social network.


  1. How to do it realistically, if you don’t have an iron will:  make it enjoyable, do it socially, and give yourself a break


  1. I get asked pretty regularly to write articles about the Top 5 things people can do to live longer, be healthier, be happier, have better sex lives, etc.  The people asking are especially keen if I can give them “secrets” that the public doesn’t know about, especially if there are magic bullets, ie superfoods or supplements that people can take to achieve all of the health benefits listed above, ie potency, health, happiness, and longevity.


People also ask me why I don’t write a book with such secrets, or write a diet book, and make a mint.


Alas, the answer to why I don’t write many lists that satisfy magazine editors or books with the secrets to weight loss and health is that a) there’s just no magic bullet, and most of us already know the answers, b) the book would be really short — to lose weight expend more calories than you take in, and to live healthily do all of the things you know you should do but you don’t.  By the way, I don’t either, but I try to on the balance do more of the good than the bad.


We all want to live a long time, and we want to be able to enjoy a good quality of life into our later years.  There are some things (our genes, for example) that we cannot control. However, studies show that up to 75% of our longevity is determined by things we can control.  There are 7 proven ways to improve your lifespan and enjoy better health and function into your later years. While unfortunately there is no magic bullet, or superfood that will improve your health and longevity with no effort on your part (see https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/06/are-superfoods-quinoa-chia-goji-good-for-you/) , with some effort and attention all of us have room to improve on these factors and improve our chances at a long and healthy life.


So, with no further ado, I present to you:


Dr. Zach’s Maginificent 7 Ways to Live Longer and Healther:


  1. Don’t smoke,  If you do smoke, quit.  Smoking is known to cause numerous cancers, heart disease, lung disease, and stroke.  If you smoke, the best thing you can do to improve your health is to quit. This is much easier said than done but where there is a will there is a way and there is nothing more important for (or than) your health.


Longtime smokers can expect to lose about 10 years of life expectancy.  However, those who quit before they turn 35 can gain most if not all of that decade back, and even those who wait until middle age to kick the habit can add about five years back to their life expectancies.  https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/putting-a-number-to-smokings-toll/


  1. Eat well and, if you have diabetes, control your sugars.  Everyone should choose lower glycemic index foods (brown rice, bread, pasta) over high glycemic index foods (white rice, bread, pasta) as well as choosing fats that are unsaturated (olive oil, salmon, almonds) over those with saturated fat (cheese, butter, cream).  Also, avoid trans fats (in fast foods, donuts). These recommendations are especially important to people with diabetes, who need to watch their diet and control their blood glucose.


One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed Improving diet by just 20% was linked to a 8-17% lower risk of premature death.  Improved diet quality over 12 years was consistently associated with a decreased risk of death — https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1613502.


  1. Control your weight.  Obesity is a risk factor for many illnesses including type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and early death.  Weight control can be achieved by diet and exercise. Don’t buy things you will eat for emotional reasons or out of boredom (or if you do, moderate it).  Ask for help in setting a reasonable goal and taking small steps that make success more likely. Tell friends and family about your goal. Make your kitchen off-limits after dinner.  Trimming 5% to 10% of your starting weight is a realistic goal with excellent health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels and lowering the risk for diabetes.  Work with your doctor, or a nutritionist, or a trainer — you don’t have to do it alone, and it’s easier to be motivated with others involved.

People with severe obesity have decreased life expectancy ranging from 6 to 14 years shorter than those of healthy weight — https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-study-finds-extreme-obesity-may-shorten-life-expectancy-14-years


  1. Stay active, physically and mentally.  People who are more physically active have better diabetes control, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight.  And they live longer and healthier lives. Not everyone can run marathons, but whatever physical exertion you can do is infinitely better than none at all, and the more the better.


Staying mentally and socially active (see #7) is as important as physical activity.  It has been shown to improve mental health and delay the onset and progression of dementia.


Regular physical activity is associated with an increase of life expectancy by 0.4 to 6.9 years — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3395188/, https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/press-releases/2012/PhysicalActivityLifeExpectancy.


  1. Drink alcohol only in moderation.  Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.  If you don’t drink, don’t take it up for possible health benefits. If there are any they are small and probably only from having a single glass of red wine a day. Heavy drinking causes liver disease, heart disease, stomach disease, and increases your risk of certain cancers.  And it decreases one’s life expectancy by about 5 years — https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30134-X/fulltext.


  1. Build a strong social network.  This has been shows to be protective to both your mental and physical health.

A healthy social life can be as beneficial to your health as not smoking.  And a study showed that those with poor social connections had on average 50% higher odds of death in the study’s follow-up period (an average of 7.5 years) than people with more robust social ties.




  1. Have a doctor and go for screening when recommended.  Catch potential problems while they are easily treatable/curable and have someone to support you in improving your health.

Screening saves lives — for cancers, blood pressure, and many other conditions.

Controlling your blood pressure can add  5 years to your life expectancy — https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/787720.


Patients who see the same doctor regularly have a lower risk of death than others — https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/6/e021161


These are 7 ways to live longer, healthier lives.  There is no magic here; all take a bit of effort, and all are worth it.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28724530 — Study showing that compared to the whole US population, those with such a favorable behavioral profile had a life expectancy at age fifty that was seven years longer, and they experienced a delay in the onset of disability of up to six years.


Quality of life is important, and so we have to try to find ways that living healthy can be pleasant and enjoyable.  For example, being active with friends doing activities we enjoy, and finding healthy foods we like. And we are human, which means we won’t be perfect, and we can’t beat ourselves up for indulging in something pleasurable that isn’t good for us.  So try to find ways to make a healthy lifestyle enjoyable, and try to tip the balance toward doing more healthy things than unhealthy ones. THOSE are the secret keys to health and longevity.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,