3 Evidence - Based Tips to Increase Your Healthspan
As modern medicine continues to give us the gift of a longer lifespan, it's becoming clear that there's a widening gap between our lifespan and our healthspan. Our healthspan is a term that refers to the amount of time we spend in good health during our life.
Healthspan is about more than just living longer - it takes into consideration how healthy we are during those years.
An increased healthspan is likely a goal that many of us have without realising it. A longer healthspan means less years living with chronic diseases, and being able to enjoy the later years of your life in better health.
The good news is, there's lots we can do to optimise our healthspan and ensure that we're not just living longer, but better.
Here are 3 evidence-based tips to increase your Healthspan:
1. Stay socially connected
When life throws us a curveball and things get stressful or busy, it can be easy for some of us to shut down and let social commitments slide. However, lack of social connection has been shown by one scientific study to be more harmful to our health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure! Social connection is defined as the experience of feeling close to and a sense of belonging with others.
It has not only been linked to decreased risk of depression and anxiety, but is also associated with lower levels of inflammation and faster recovery from disease which are key factors in staying healthy for longer.
2. Get sunlight in the morning
Morning exposure to sunlight helps us to regulate our circadian rhythm (A.K. A our body clock) which helps to coordinate our sleep - wake cycles and our other daily bodily functions.
As well as improving the quality of our sleep, which in itself is key for good health, morning sunlight exposure has lots of other benefits that can con tribute to us staying healthier for longer.
Exposure to sunlight is also thought to cause our brain to release more of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Known as the 'happy hormone', serotonin helps to lift our mood and energy levels, leading to higher over all wellbeing. A benefit of sunlight exposure that may surprise you is the benefit to our heart health.
Exposure of our skin to sunlight not only causes the body to produce Vitamin D, but also a substance called nitric oxide which lowers blood pressure an d has a cardio protective effect. It's of course worth noting that excessive sunlight exposure carries the risk of skin cancer, but the scientific consensus is that small doses of sunlight on our skin do us a lot of good!
You can reap the benefits of sunlight for your circadian rhythm and serotonin levels just by viewing sunlight through your eyes outside, as this triggers a beneficial response in the brain. Getting some sunlight on your arms, hands and face can help you to benefit from the Vitamin - D boosting and heart health benefits of sunlight too.
3. Anti - inflammatory foods
Inflammation is one of the OG health buzzwords. And rightly so! Although acute inflammation is actually a good thing (when we're ill or injured), chronic inflammation plays a huge role in major diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
One of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of chronic inflammation - related diseases is to include plenty of anti - inflammatory foods in your diet.
- Polyphenol - rich foods like berries and dark green leafy vegetables
- Omega - 3 fats from oily fish, nuts & seeds and algae - based sources
- Herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, frankincense, cinnamon, garlic and rosemary
If you're looking for ways to incorporate these foods into your diet, check out the recipes on the Rhythm Nutrition blog, which has plenty recipes that are not only bursting with anti-inflammatory foods, but are delicious too!
So there you have it, 3 evidence-based ways to stay healthier for longer by reducing your risk of chronic health conditions.