What if you used to smoke cigarettes, avoided vegetables, and enjoyed fast food?  Take heart, if you did.

Dr. David Johnson, chair of the department of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center says the following ways are easy and have more significance than most of us realize. “Collectively, even if they don’t let you live longer, they allow you to live more healthily, in a more psychologically satisfying life.”

1. Floss

Flossing removes plaque, the bacterial film that forms along your gum line. Get rid of bacteria, and you lessen your chances of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, says Dr. Larry Korenman of Loveable Smiles in Richardson, Texas.

2. Get a colonoscopy

“It’s a great test,” says Radhika Vayani, an internal medicine doctor of osteopathy at the University of North Texas Health Center in Fort Worth. “The 24 hour prep is the worst. You basically drink nasty stuff, and you have diarrhea. But you won’t feel the procedure. If they see a polyp, they get rid of it right then and there. That could save you from having colon cancer in 5 years.”

3. Stop eating before you’re full

Most Americans eat and eat “till we’re so full we’re about to be sick,” says Vayani. “But it takes the body 15 to 20 minutes to say, ‘You’re full.'”

4. Use sunscreen

In a Centers for Disease Control study, only 32% of adults reported usually applying sunscreen. However, this year in the U.S., 3.5 million people will get skin cancer and 76,000 more will develop melanoma, says the American Cancer Society.

5. Stop smoking

Despite years and years of evidence proving the harmful effects it causes, “tons of people smoke,” says Vayani.

Whatever age you quit smoking at, you can increase your life.

6. Sleep

Not getting enough sleep has been linked to memory problems, hearing problems, anger, high blood pressure, stroke, depression, vehicle accidents and obesity.

7. Move

“Exercise has been demonstrated over and over to be useful,” says Johnson. “Truth is, any level is of value.” Walking, he says “gets you outside, and some outside is good as long as you don’t overdo it. The best way to get Vitamin D is sunshine.”

8. Eat produce

There are lots of benefits. Eating 5 or more servings per day – reduces your risk of stroke by 26%, according to a study in Men’s Health.

9. Cultivate healthy relationships

Spending time with family and friends is “psychologically helpful,” says Johnson, adding that it “isn’t a cure-all; it won’t counteract a McDonald’s cheeseburger.”

Vayani adds, “studies have shown that people with more friends and people in healthy relationships live longer.”

10. Be grateful

“We experience great things all day long that we fail to acknowledge,” says Johnson. “I don’t want to sound new wave-y, but our health is more than just physical health. I see dozens of people who have illnesses that would lay you or me low, but they seem totally happy. How can that be? They’ve chosen to look at the good instead of the challenges.”

Adds Johnson, “even if I don’t live a long time, I’m happy with what I experience.”   phillyinquirerhealth.com     10/14/14


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