Five Simple Steps to a Longer, Healthier Life

Editor's note: This Weekend Edition, we're taking a break from our usual fare... to talk about planning for your future. In this essay, most recently published in the Stansberry Digest Masters Series, Dr. David "Doc" Eifrig shares his five tips to living a longer, healthier life. By doing so, you can enjoy the fruits of your retirement for years to come.

What if humans could match the lifespan of Ming, the world's longest-living animal?

Ming was an ocean quahog – a type of clam – who lived to be 507 years old... That's more than seven times longer than the average 71-year life expectancy of humans.

And take the American lobster. It's more similar to humans than a mollusk... but it belongs to a group of organisms that is considered "biologically immortal."

As long as a lobster doesn't fall victim to a predator or outside injury, its cells don't seem to deteriorate with age.

How does a lobster live so long while humans can't?

Lobsters have a certain enzyme in all of their organs that helps lengthen the protective caps at the end of their DNA.

Those caps, called telomeres, may be the key to extending human lives...

Human DNA is also protected by telomeres, which play an important role when your cells divide to make new cells. But these caps wear down each time your cells divide, so they disappear as you age...

Shorter telomeres are associated with dead and dying cells. And they also suggest a person is susceptible to age-related diseases and even early mortality.

Many stressors shorten telomeres, including inflammation, psychological stress, and insufficient sleep. But there are ways to protect and even lengthen your telomeres.

That's why today, I'm sharing my top five ways to slow the aging process so you can live a longer, healthier life...

No. 1. Get Moving

I learned in medical school, "If you can move, you're alive."

It has stuck with me since. It's one reason I recommend movement as one of the most powerful ways to improve your health.

We all know that exercise is crucial for taking care of your health... everything from burning calories to strengthening muscles and elevating positive moods.

You don't need intensive, difficult, or time-consuming exercise to reap the incredible health benefits movement offers. Exercise reduces stress, releases endorphins, improves brain function, improves cardiovascular health, and even lengthens your telomeres.

Often, people ask me what the best exercises are – especially when they're just starting out. Here are my top three exercises that just about anyone can do...

Walking. This is easier on your joints than jogging or running but still provides many of the same benefits. We also know that walking after a meal helps fight spikes in blood sugar, known as postprandial hyperglycemia. And researchers have recently found that walking after a meal helps prevent developing diabetes, too.

Yoga. This exercise reduces stress, which takes a big toll on cells... especially the telomeres. It makes them shrink faster than normal, which leads to a host of age-related diseases. As it turns out, yoga is a great way to protect your telomeres.

Yoga also protects your heart. Studies have shown that yoga reduces blood pressure and heart rate just as much as aerobic exercise.

And yoga strengthens the brain. As we age, our brains lose gray matter – where the clusters of nerve cells live. It's responsible for many of our brains' functions, including muscle control, memory, vision, hearing, emotions, and decision-making.

Research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience showed that the more hours a week someone did yoga, the greater the amount of gray matter in their brain.

High-intensity interval training ("HIIT"). HIIT is a workout strategy where you mix short, intense bursts of effort with longer recovery periods. It's intense, but it's considered safe for anyone, even older folks and people just getting started with regular exercise.

Studies show HIIT is more efficient than regular aerobic exercise. It improves your body's ability to burn fat and calories. A 12- to 15-minute HIIT workout is equivalent to an hour of steady aerobic exercise.

Whatever type of exercise you do, just get up and get moving.

No. 2. Stop Stressing

Many people dismiss anxiety as a typical sign of aging...

Think about the last time you visited a loved one in a senior living community. Did you notice they had changes in their appetite, were sleeping poorly, or had trouble concentrating? Did they hoard food or avoid participating in any social activities?

It turns out, these are all markers for generalized anxiety disorder – the most common of all anxiety disorders. And people of all ages can suffer from this.

Stress causes a host of diseases as it lowers your immune system and ramps up inflammation – one of the major causes of shortening telomeres. And the sooner you start to take care of your mental health, the better.

One of my favorite ways to alleviate stress is through meditation. It triggers the "relaxation response," which helps our bodies naturally let go of anxiety and stress. And if you can't get enough quality sleep, meditating during the day can take the edge off. It will also help you sleep deeper and better with practice.

So although meditation can't replace sleep entirely, it's an excellent way to restore your energy when you're exhausted. It's like a natural energy boost.

No. 3. Sleep Better

More than one-third of Americans are walking around like zombies...

You see, for millions of us, chronic sleep deprivation is a way of life. But it has serious consequences, including impaired memory, alertness, and concentration. We're also learning that insomnia is a likely culprit behind Alzheimer's disease.

That's why deep, quality sleep is so crucial for our health.

And the key to avoiding chronic sleep deprivation is by practicing good sleep "hygiene"...

Cutting caffeine consumption, keeping your bedroom cool, scheduling your sleep, and not eating before bed are just a handful of behaviors you can start implementing into your routine to improve your quality of sleep. 

No. 4. Fight Inflammation

Research shows that one of the greatest risks to our hearts is inflammation.

Inflammation occurs when plaque builds up in your arteries, and your body sends cells to the area to neutralize the threat. This cell deployment can inadvertently cause some of the disrupted plaque deposits to build up in nearby areas and create a blood clot, which cuts off blood flow to the heart.

So, if we target inflammation, we can significantly improve the health of our hearts. Here are some of the best ways to reduce inflammation in your body...

Eat real food – Avoid processed foods, especially those with high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats. These types of foods allow free radicals (unstable atoms that swap and steal electrons from stable atoms and cause cells to break down) to damage your blood vessels over time.

Get regular exercise – When we exercise, our bodies release nitric oxide, which keeps our arteries relaxed. Aim to get at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day.

Slim down your waistline – The fat cells that get stored around your abdomen – also known as visceral fat – include chemicals that cause inflammation and blood clots. Slim your waistline by eating well and exercising.

Regulate your emotions – Prolonged stress can cause inflammation. Make your daily stress-relieving practices a priority. I enjoy yoga (and other forms of exercise), short periods of mindful meditation, and listening to music to help boost my mood and relieve stress.

No. 5. Start Fasting

For thousands of years, humans have fasted. Our ancestors' nomadic lifestyle of hunting and gathering meant that they sometimes went days without food. But over the centuries, people started fasting by choice.

Fasting means not eating anything for a set period of time, from a few hours to days. During a fast, some folks drink water, tea, coffee, or broth.

When we eat, we take in food and break it into usable energy in the form of glucose. Once that glucose gets into our bloodstream, it travels to our cells and keeps them running. This transfer from blood to cells is facilitated by insulin.

If you have too much glucose floating around, insulin enables your body to store the excess. It goes to the liver and muscles, where it's first stored as glycogen. If your liver is too full to make any more glycogen, your body turns the excess glucose into body fat.

If we take in too many calories or keep eating repeatedly, our insulin levels stay elevated. On the other hand, when we fast, our body reverses the process. Of course, it still needs energy to keep running... And it regenerates that energy easily by breaking down the stored glycogen. Once glycogen reserves get low, the liver starts breaking down fat.

In several studies from the University of Manchester in the U.K., calorie-restricted diets and fasting both showed similar results in weight loss and fat loss. However, only the fasting group showed insulin levels lowering continuously over the six-month study.

It seems like a simple thing... Fasting helps you lose weight in the long term as well as controlling insulin levels, improving insulin sensitivity, and protecting your heart.

If you decide to try fasting, though, make sure you stay hydrated. Some of the symptoms people typically attribute to missing a meal (like dizziness) are usually just signs of dehydration.

I always say that without your health, your wealth is meaningless. After all, you can't enjoy your retirement savings if you're struggling with health problems.

While there's no "Fountain of Youth" to keep you young forever, there are steps you can take to help you stay healthier for longer... Get moving, stop stressing, sleep better, fight inflammation, and start fasting – and fully enjoy your retirement.

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig

Editor's note: Doc recently went on camera to expose a massive story that almost no one understands... in the biggest, most "bulletproof" sector of our economy.

You see, we're on the verge of a new era in health care – spanning from breakthrough drugs to telehealth to life-saving technology – that will change everything about your health and well-being in retirement. What's more, this transformation is setting up investment opportunities with the potential to soar 1,000% in the coming years.

Doc has prepared his entire career for the event he sees unfolding today. If you missed his must-see presentation, click here to watch the replay before it goes offline.