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The Habits of the Highly Healthy

The Habits of the Highly Healthy

The healthiest, longest-living people all share many common practices, routines, and habits. It has been said, “Repetition is the mother of skill.” Well let me add that “repetition” is also the mother of health. By consistently engaging in certain habits, you can enjoy a healthier and longer life.

It’s not in your genes. In fact, studies have shown that only about 20% of all people have a true genetic predisposition that places certain limitations on their health and longevity. Could it be that the studies showing hereditary (gene) correlations between parent and child (genes) is more a matter of the parent and child sharing the same conditioning or the same unhealthy habits? If so, then that means that for most people, it’s more of what they do (their habits) than their genes (hereditary traits).

Perhaps, it’s time you throw out your limitations.

Suppose you dismiss the notion of genes that, because of age, sex, ethnicity, or another hereditary trait, you can’t be one of the healthiest men or women on the planet.

By simply completing the same routines and habits of the world’s healthiest, longest-living people, you can easily join their ranks. You can become healthier. You can live longer. Today, it’s possible to live past our average life expectancy of 78.7 years and to do so in good-health. We now have the capacity to live comfortably into our 90s.

So, let’s explore some of the core habits of “the highly healthy” that will very likely work for you too.

Movement

Movement is the 800-pound gorilla.

And, pound for pound, no other health habit comes close to this powerhouse. There’s no denying it; and there’s no getting around it. Your DNA, evolution, and body demand that you move. Your health demands regular physical activity.

The world’s “highly healthy” men and women respect this powerful habit by giving their bodies regular, consistent, physical activity. And, not all “highly healthy” people join gyms or fitness clubs. Many simply choose to:

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  • Engage in natural, functional forms of activity such as, gardening, housework, and yard work
  • Enjoy walking and/or running an average of 30 minutes daily

Highly healthy people appreciate the benefits that only physical activity can provide, such as, increased ability to focus, less depression or anxiety, longevity, energy, and heightened creativity.

Purpose and Connection

Long ago, things weren’t always so easy and convenient for the human race.

In those times, survival often kept people pre-occupied and busy every day. Fast-forward to today, and you find the purpose of “surviving” to be more of an after-thought.

The point is that “survival” has been man’s number one purpose for countless centuries. Without that overriding purpose, you are free to indulge in any number of other “purposeful” activities.

Unfortunately, many people haven’t defined their purpose. And, it’s hard to hit a target you can’t see. So, this often causes some people to feel empty inside, detached, and yearning for something more.

Highly healthy men and women realize that purpose is a void that’s better filled than left empty. That’s why they often:

  • Find something bigger than themselves to focus on, and strive to achieve
  • Work in fields they enjoy, and are more than just financially-rewarding
  • Serve their community, nation, and family

A fast way to finding your purpose is to sit down with a pen and notepad and to start writing. In the center of the pad write, “MY PURPOSE” and circle it. Next, draw four lines. One that extends from the top, one that extends from the right, another that extends out of the bottom, and finally one more that extends from the left.

On the line extending from the top write, “Values.” On the line extending from the right, write the word, “Passions.” On the line extending from the bottom write, “Talents;” and finally on the line extending from the left write, “Skills/expertise.”

Write until your hand hurts – anything and everything that falls under those categories. As you write pay attention to your emotions. Which words conjure up thoughts, laughter, tears, give you goose bumps, or scare you so much you feel as if you may just pee in your pants? See example below:

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Purpose

    Photo: Justin Miller

    Circle those words. Your purpose may lie in them.

    Often times, “the highly healthy” find their “purpose” in maintaining valuable “connections.” Connections are social relationships, and the human race is a social race. Our need for “social” interaction has been hardwired in our DNA over the numerous centuries. Our ancestors were forced to be social in order to survive. Tribes, small bands, communities, and towns all created a social atmosphere, while simultaneously promoting and protecting the well-being of all of its members.

    Social relationships can provide us positive emotions and feelings of well-being like nothing else. And so, “the highly healthy” embrace “connections” by:

    Mindset

    There are several mindset traits of “the highly healthy.”

    Thoughts have long been known to cause profound changes within a person’s body and to the state of their health. Thoughts are what trigger emotions – good and bad. Unpleasant thoughts produce painful, aggravating feelings. Additionally, negative thoughts create stress that manifests in the body and wreaks havoc on every physical aspect of a person’s being. However, pleasant thoughts produce pleasurable, soothing feelings.

    “The highly healthy” realize that their thoughts are better directed than left to roam. Therefore, to maximize their positive feelings, they take the time to toss out any “stinking-thinking” and replace them with positive thoughts. They don’t fall prey to addictions because they actively manage the most powerful pharmacy – their state of mind.

    The result is both better feelings and a healthier body. That’s why highly healthy people:

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    • Show gratitude and give thanks, every day
    • Forgive others, and free themselves from the destructive, negative thoughts that would otherwise constantly fill their minds
    • Accept and acknowledge their fears, but move forward with their life
    • Trust their gut or intuition because they realize that it’s often an excellent decision-maker
    • Bounce back from troubles without seeing temporary setbacks as permanent failures

    Pace

    Success in life, work, and health require effort and planning.

    Yet, few of life’s great achievements happen overnight. Highly healthy people know that becoming and remaining healthy is a process that takes time.

    And that’s why they develop “pacing” habits in order to keep their health in optimal condition. When it comes to joining the ranks of “the highly healthy,” you’ll have to learn to pace yourself… by knowing when “less” of certain things will provide you “more” benefits.

    Less is More

    An important part of pacing yourself involves recognizing when “less is actually more.”

    “The highly healthy” have experienced the pain of having over-committed themselves only to find that despite being involved in several activities, they enjoyed none of them. Moderation is the key.

    And, that’s why “the highly healthy” tend to:

    • Embrace the simple solution vs. the complex approach
    • Avoid trying to be “all things to all people” embracing the power of a positive no.
    • Take breaks throughout their day to relax, nap, socialize, or read. Fifty minutes of work followed by 10 minutes of break-time. Or try the Pomodoro principle.

    Additionally, when it comes to eating, super-healthy people maintain habits to:

    • Stop eating when only 70 to 80% full, instead of stuffing themselves
    • Eat smaller meals with smaller portions
    • Eat less late in the day… and very lightly, if at all, before going to bed

    Enemy #1

    And, in keeping with their mindset of moderation, highly healthy people realize that there are certain foods that are worse than others. Many require you to pace your consumption of them.

    Yet despite attempting to tackle every unhealthy food, “the highly healthy” wisely choose to eradicate the worse food – enemy #1 – sugar.

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    The healthiest people realize that sugar is addicting, and their body functions better and more effectively without it. So, instead of going allowing sugar to destroy their health, “the highly healthy” have habits in which they:

    • Eat moderate amounts of fruits on occasion
    • Indulge in desserts and sweets no more than one day per week, often known as their “junk-food day” or a “day off”
    • Avoid sugar in all it’s hidden forms, including juices, sodas, etc.

    Plants

    Studies have shown that a plant-based diet has many health benefits. A diet rich in the right vegetables has long been known to help reduce a person’s risks for health issues, such as:

    • High-blood pressure
    • High-blood sugar
    • Unhealthy cholesterol levels
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • And many other health problems

    Highly healthy people have developed the habit of enjoying plant-based foods everyday. And a number of them eat as much as 6 to 9 servings each day. To make it a bit easier on yourself simply strive to eat a serving of veggies every time you eat.

    Prioritize eating veggies every time you eat. One to two fist-sized servings should do the trick. You can use resources like this to help you choose the best ones.

    Shut-eye

    Countless studies and research have been done in the realm of sleeping. Scientists want to know how sleep affects the body. In their sleep studies of humans, they discovered the incredible and essential role sleep plays in our life.

    Getting sufficient sleep can improve:

    • Metabolism
    • Memory
    • Attention
    • Depression
    • Creativity
    • Inflammation
    • Learning
    • Immune Function
    • Longevity

    Highly healthy people are committed to giving their bodies adequate sleep every night. That means these men and women sleep between 7 to 9 hours every single night.

    And, with such a long list of sleep benefits, there’s little doubt why many of the world’s “highly healthy” people are also “highly successful.”

    Join the “Highly Healthy”

    There are medications that actually get rid of bacterial infections and other ailments. However, there has never been… and will likely never be… a magic pill for good health. Instead, it requires each person, to incorporate certain habits and routines into their lives.

    Today, men and women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s are running marathons. That’s 26.2 miles, in a matter of hours, not days. So, it’s important for you to realize, believe, and know that there is no limit to how healthy you can become at any age. All you need to do is to embrace and adopt the habits of “the highly healthy.”

    It’s hard to live a limitless life if you can’t get out of bed.

    More by this author

    Justin Miller

    Healthy Lifestyle Architect, a Fitness and Nutrition Coach

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2019

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

    1. Nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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    2. Blueberries

    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

    4. Broccoli

    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

    6. Soy

    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

    7. Dark Chocolate

    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

    10. Gingko Biloba

    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

    11. Green and Black Tea

    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

    Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    12. Sage and Rosemary

    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

    More About Boosting Brain Power

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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