1) A recent Harvard study found that when female participants drank 1-2 glasses of alcohol 7 days a week beginning in middle age, those same individuals lived to 70 without any major chronic diseases, including cancer and diabetes. More good news? Yes! The participants were relatively healthy well into their 80's. The benefits of red wine have long been touted as beneficial to heart-health, but new findings also show that a dose of daily alcohol can help with Alzheimer's and dementia, too. Teetotalers beware!
2) Did you also know that just tasting fatty foods can release endocannabinoids in your body, mimicking the effect of...you guessed it, cannabis. Looks like Harold and Kumar were actually on to something. Bring on the brie! It's time to get legally-lit....
3) Carbs are brain-food, despite their bad reputation as diet-killers, and there's no more beloved carbohydrate than potatoes. Fried, baked, mashed, roasted, grilled, sauteed...we all love 'em! If you've wanted to lose weight in the last, say, twenty years or so--chances are you've banished this simple, delicious root vegetable from your diet. No more! Potatoes help lower blood pressure in obese people as much as oatmeal...without the added pounds. I'll take mine with extra cheese!
4) Though processed carbohydrates like white bread still get the thumbs down, eating a slice of wholsesome whole grain ups your dopamine...a feel-good chemical in your brain. So does eating a square of dark chocolate. And in case you're not sure what that means, eating these foods have the same effect on dopamine-release in your brain as the 80's-chic drug, cocaine...without the big ups and down, or, disfigured nostrils. Bonus!
5) Sex! Let's talk about it., baby Women who have sex on a regular basis not only live longer, but look younger...up to EIGHT years younger! Who needs Botox??? Oh, and sex is a decent calorie-burner as well, girls--250 calories or so--or the equivalent of snowshoeing for 30 minutes.
6) Caffeine-addiction has come under recent scrutiny thanks to sugary energy drinks but it seems that caffeinated coffee may be a brain's best friend. New studies have found that anti-oxidant rich coffee is good for your brain! Who knew that all those Starbuck's splurges would have such long-term benefits??? Not only are there implications of reduced stroke and dementia, but it helps prevent brain cancer as well. By the way, brain cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-death in the States. Think of that ridiculously expensive daily latte as one of the best investments money can buy. Gold? Who needs it!
7) The Sun. Skin cancer is rampant...and rather deadly. It's the number one killer in Australia, who has more skin cancer clinics on Bondi in Sydney than corner drug stores. We've been told to stay out of the Sun. Avoid it between the hours of 10am and 2pm. And people have listened. Now, Vitamin D deprivation is considered one of the leading causing of depression, also accounting for a rise in osteoporosis, osteopenia and osteo-arthritis. Ouch! New research is showing that we actually need to go out into the Sun instead of avoid it at all costs...but in moderation. Heading outdoors between the hours of 10am and 2pm are now recommended. Try getting out for ten minutes at a time, wearing sunblock--which helps block damage of UVA and UVB rays without blocking Vitamin D benefits--about three times a day. Or, go take your lunch break outside in the sunshine for 30 minutes. Vitamin D supplements also work, but nothing works as well as the natural conversion process instigated by having fun in the Sun. Other benefits: Being out in the sunshine is a proven method of combatting depression, without the nasty side-effects of anti-depressants. Take two and call me in the morning, Sunshine!
No, I'm not going to tell you that exercise is now bad for you--we still have to move our bodies to live longer, combat disease, and keep our minds sharp--but all-in-all, the second decade of the 21st century is pretty darned good. As with everything, moderation is always key. And by no means should you start engorging on fried food to get a natural high or become an alcoholic to live longer. Always talk to your doctor before changing your health routine. But barring the obvious extremes, I'd say human bodies have it made in 2011 and beyond.
Seven reasons to live better? You bet!
Cheers to that...and, to you.