We have known for a while that women tend to outlive men, though the exact reason behind why is still up for debate. It’s likely due to some combination of biological factors such as hormone production, as well as an indeterminate amount of social influence.
You like East African and Asian cuisine
Specifically turmeric, an ingredient that dates back 4000 years to these areas and has been a health staple basically the entire time. A study has shown its high level of a specific antioxidant called curcumin, has been linked to increased longevity across animals. It has yet to be conclusively proven to affect humans, but c’mon it’s so good.
You drink coffee
Moderate coffee intake may lower the risk of premature death, as per a 2015 Harvard study. Drinking three to five cups per day was associated with reduced chances of death from cardiovascular and neurological diseases as antioxidants in coffee are thought to reduce inflammation and insulin resistance.
You have a life-long partner
A 2013 Duke University study of 5,000 individuals found that those who never married were nearly twice as likely to die prematurely compared to those in stable marriages. Even after accounting for other factors, a loving and caring partner has been shown to significantly increase health outcomes.
You eat whole-grain foods
A healthy diet plays a vital role in enhancing overall health and lifespan. Whole grains are particularly beneficial as they provide essential nutrients such as polyphenols, which can reduce the risk of mortality from cancer, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, a 2013 study revealed that adults with higher levels of polyphenols in their urine have a 30% lower mortality rate compared to individuals with lower levels.
You consume seafood regularly
Including fish and other seafood in your diet can have a profound impact on your lifespan. These foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which offer various health benefits. Having elevated levels of omega-3 can potentially lower the risk of dying from heart-related conditions by up to 35% and reduce the overall risk of mortality by 27%.
You’re a social person
An analysis of 148 studies involving nearly 310,000 participants revealed that individuals with stronger social connections have a 50% higher likelihood of survival compared to those who experience social isolation. These findings held across different factors, including age, sex, cause of death, and initial health status. Social isolation was found to have a similar impact on mortality as other significant factors like smoking and alcoholism.
You have an animal companion
Numerous studies have shown that owning a pet brings various advantages, such as increased happiness and reduced feelings of loneliness. Active pets, like dogs, can have an even stronger impact on a person’s well-being. Owning a dog, for example, promotes cardiovascular health by encouraging regular physical activity. These factors may contribute to a decreased risk of long-term mortality when combined with the psychological benefits of having a furry companion.
You have never smoked
Non-smokers typically enjoy a lifespan that is approximately 10 years longer than regular smokers. Although the magnitude of this effect diminishes with increasing smoking habits, quitting smoking can still significantly extend one’s life. Quitting before age 40, for instance, can reduce the risk of mortality from smoking-related diseases by nearly 90%.
You read often
If you prefer curling up with a good book (or E-reader) by the fire (or E-fire!) to watching TV, you could be increasing your life expectancy. A study by the National Library of Medicine found that bookworms lived 23 months longer than those who watched TV or only enjoyed newspapers and magazines. You could read 1/19th of The Lord of The Rings at that time.
You have a healthy body weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for a fulfilling life. Experts consider a BMI score of 18.5 to 24.9 as healthy. A higher BMI increases the risk of cardiovascular issues and diabetes. Basic height and weight calculations are insufficient for accurate BMI assessment. Consulting healthcare professionals ensures personalized guidance based on individual body composition.
You eat breakfast
Breakfast isn’t any more important for you than any other meal, and many breakfast foods are actually quite bad for you. What does appear to be true, however, is that people who eat breakfast regularly are likely to also have several other traits that we know are beneficial for health. These include time, money, living situation, and more.
You get regular check-ups
Both the body and mind become more susceptible with age, which means it becomes even more important that you frequently give yourself a look over, and schedule a regular health check-up. If you expect to live to 100, you can’t afford to lose any major organs before the halfway point at least, that’s just going to make that second half much harder.
You have a family
You would think that the stress of raising a child is bound to take a few decades off of a parent, but it turns out it’s quite the opposite. Research out of Sweden suggests that past the age of 80, having children significantly increases your life expectancy through a combination of social and mental factors, such as being part of a strong care network.
You sleep like a baby
The lucky few that manage to sleep like clockwork will be happy to hear their routine slumber land trips are also increasing their longevity. A study out of Harvard found that, frustratingly, both too little and too much sleep can significantly decrease your life expectancy. The process of sleep is complicated and not fully understood, it sure is great though.
You hate sitting still
One of the leading contributors to things like heart disease and diabetes is a sedentary lifestyle. This is largely unrelated to the amount of physical exercise you do, although you should of course still do that. Sitting for more than three hours a day for extended times can take a year off your life.
As “Endorsed by nine out of ten dentists” as this sounds, it turns out there is some truth behind it. Flossing helps prevent gum disease, assuming you’re also brushing too, which has been linked to several life-threatening conditions, such as kidney and heart disease. Flossing daily lowers your chances of developing these by up to 30%.
You drink in moderation
While there are clear and dangerous consequences to excessive alcohol consumption, you don’t have to live an entire century of abstinence, either. A meta-analysis of over 100 papers looked for the effects of alcohol on longevity and found no differences between those who drank in moderation, and those who never touched a drop.
You know your family history
A huge percentage of our potential life expectancy is determined before we’re even born. Some hereditary conditions are apparent while you’re still developing, but others can be buried deep in your DNA from recessive family genes. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and a good knowledge of your family history will keep you from any nasty surprises down the line.
You’re financially secure
Health and wealth are tied in some unfortunate ways. Clearly, money can get you better healthcare, but the benefits extend far beyond this. Being able to purchase fresh, unrefined ingredients, living in areas that are free from industrial pollution, and the ability to save for emergencies are all linked to longer life, and accessibility through wealth.
You don’t overeat
It’s becoming increasingly clear that refined and processed foods have had some effect on our metabolism through our gut biome. We learn more as the science progresses, but what we do know is that excessive calorie consumption is linked to much lower health outcomes. The calorie-dense foods themselves are likely the issue, as well as the amount.
You like nuts
We spent so many centuries feeding them to birds and now they all cost a fortune, great job everybody! Birds love them for a reason too, they’re packed full of all the nutrients they need to create life. Proteins, fibers, minerals, salts, and sugars, they’re a complete dietary package that has been linked to a 39% decrease in the risk of premature death.
You eat plenty of ginger
Ginger has been used as a tonic for all kinds of ailments since around 3000 B.C., though we don’t know where it came from. It doesn’t grow anywhere naturally, so must have been cross-bred sometime prior, but it’s absolutely packed with over 115 bioactive ingredients. Plenty of these we have already covered, but here they are in a delicious, warming package.
You practice yoga
People talk smack about yoga, but it’s been around for millennia and you can do it in your living room with the TV on – people are always going to be doing yoga. As well as the effect on predictors of longevity like leg strength and walking speed, it’s an exercise focused on mindfulness and reflection, both of which are essential for a long and happy life.
You play a musical instrument
Any task or hobby that requires hand-eye coordination is going to keep your brain agile and engaged as you grow older, music just happens to be one of the most culturally powerful forces in the universe. Through personal development, social connections, and exposure to a common language with infinite intricacies to uncover, you enrich every day of your long life.
You get plenty of time outside
Not only is time spent around nature great for the mind, but vitamin D is also vitally important to longevity. You can get it from plenty of fruits and supplements, and indeed you should if you don’t get much sunshine in your neighborhood, but time outside is a wonderful way to grab a boost of vitamin D, which is linked to a 26% increase in health outcomes.
You’ve probably heard swimmers rattling off the health benefits of their preferred form of exercise, turns out they might have a very revealing point. Swimmers do seem to live longer than others, even among top competitive athletes. It’s a full-body cardio workout that uses muscles you never knew you had and helps you live longer, although comes at the cost of potentially swallowing other people’s urine.
You don’t drive often
While convenient and often essential, driving combines a lot of things that aren’t great for you and forces you to endure them in a hot, cramped space. A combination of things like stress, extended periods of sitting, and pollution make even safe car journeys add up to reducing life expectancy over time.
You’re secure with sexuality
As a very physically and, at its best, emotionally strenuous and satisfying experience, sex has several short-term benefits most people are pretty familiar with. A 2022 study found that simply believing that sex is an essential part of human health had a better longevity impact on those who were more active in their approach to sexuality.
You dabble in vegetarianism
You don’t have to completely throw out the meat, if there’s one takeaway from this list it’s that moderation is more important than any one thing in specific. A study of almost 100,000 Seventh Day Adventists, an organization that encourages vegetarianism, found that women who undertook the diet lived seven years longer than their counterparts, with the men also living ten years longer.
You take skincare seriously
Our skin is essentially the reliable winter coat you keep in the closet, but has to last forever and the stuffing inside can just explode for no reason. Take care of the stuffing, sure, but your skin is exposed to the world 24/7. That means heat, humidity, frost, dust, debris, UV light, and free radicals can all cause conditions that inhibit your life expectancy.
You drink plenty of water
This should be point number one. Drink more water. Drink deep and prosper. It’s the source of life and vital for everything inside you. Obviously, without any water, your life expectancy is quite limited, but adequate hydration in later years is linked to a lower risk of basically every condition you can think of except needing the bathroom a lot.
You spend your time learning
There are plenty of observed links between high intelligence scores (IQ) and longer life expectancy, but to suggest purely that being ‘intelligent’ in the way IQ tests measure, and thus they survive through the utilization of that intelligence is misleading. The same conditions that facilitate the high scores contribute to the life expectancy, being free to pursue knowledge unimpeded is the main life enhancer.
You use social media
In a similar vein to how real-world social activity is linked to more positive health outcomes, our online social lives can have a similar effect. This of course comes with the caveat that your online social activity should be an extension of your offline one, not a substitute for it or something you become overly dependent on.
You play golf
Another example of how the activity itself not necessarily being the cause of its positive outcomes. Golf is, comparatively, not an intense cardiovascular exercise. Nonetheless, if you have the money and means to play it, you’re likely already on your way to a long and happy life regardless. Unless you over-backspin a shot and it nails a hornet’s nest.
You’re a shepherd
Or at least view them as a very worthy and noble role model – either work. Some of the world’s highest life expediencies are found around the islands of Italy, such as Sardinia. Semi-isolated sheep herders, with a lifestyle that involves heavy manual labor and fresh vegetarian diets, frequently live to over 100 years old.
You like beans and pulses
In most raw forms and some processes, these things can pretty much sustain you through anything. Most people probably aren’t getting the right kinds of fibers and in the right amount, since these are often overlooked in favor of proteins or starches. Communities that have diets based around fresh fruit and pulses regularly live much longer than others.
You enjoy a light nap
As established, too much sleep is generally bad for longevity, but considering the shift in our lifestyles over the last 100 years alone, most of us could probably do with more. Siestas are common in many places across the world, and studies have shown a general health increase in those who listen to their body’s signals and nap when they need to.
Now that all the kids are talking about Napoleon again, it’s a good time to remind everybody that the poster child for little guys with a big ol’ attitude needn’t have been so insecure. When accounting for other predictors, short people generally seem to live a couple of years longer than their taller, shade-providing friends.
You don’t work in the industry
By far the most dangerous occupations around the world are in the extraction and refinery industries. That’s already the entire primary and secondary sectors of production plagued with fatality, there’s only one left and even then pizza delivery drivers have a pretty high chance of encountering danger at work. Best hope you win the lottery before you reach 100.
You’re generous and kind
Not only will this fill your life with the moments that make it worth living, but it’s also prolonging your life in a sort of pay-it-forward immortality scheme. Generosity has several beneficial health benefits, both physical and mental. It reduces stress, increases a feeling of positivity, and can lower blood pressure.
You had an easy childhood
Few childhoods are ever truly easy. We’re shaped by our surroundings as we grow, both on a psychological and biological level, and we’re also incredibly susceptible to shifts in our environment. Things like growing up in a lower class, being raised by only one parent, and suffering mentally can take decades off your life expectancy.
You share a religion with your community
Quite a few studies show that religious people, most often religious women, outlive their eternally damned secular friends. The figures range from five to 10 or even 15 years in some cases, with the age of death rising in conjunction with their religion’s prevalence in the area. Life apparently has much less stress when everybody agrees with you, who knew…
You carry the M26 genetic variation
Unless you’re reading this from the lush, rolling hills of Sardinia, you probably do not have the M26 genetic variation. Shout out again to the immortal profession of shepherding, residents of this Italian Island and its secluded gene pool have an extreme abundance of this genetic trait, which predicts with 77% accuracy a long and healthy life.
You have access to high-end pharmaceuticals
The race to chemically extend our lives is currently at a fascinating milestone. Several expensive, revolutionary medications that treat conditions like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes can also offer otherwise healthy individuals a boost in longevity. That of course means they aren’t going where they need to, and while you could live to 100, somebody else will not.
You live somewhere with publicly funded healthcare
This one is fairly self-evident, though there is plenty of additional evidence available. The Journal of Global Health produced a report in 2022 that showed a 10-year difference in life expectancy between countries with publicly funded, and privately funded healthcare. Not having to pay for an ambulance could probably add two or three.
You don’t take illegal drugs
Many have tried to deduce the exact amount of time a single cigarette, for instance, takes off a person’s life. In reality, these figures are difficult to verify, but we do know which drugs do the most damage in single usage, as well as over time. Daily heroin use is believed to knock around 30 years off a person’s lifespan.
You have a high VO2 max
It may sound like a Pokémon move, but VO2 levels are about how much oxygen your blood can take in whilst exercising. High-level endurance athletes, and top-level performers from basically any sport, all have an enormous capacity to store oxygen in their blood. This is believed to be why they tend to outlive their lower-level competition.
You hate TV
As wonderful, comforting, entertaining, and all-round wholesome TV is, like everything humans love, it is slowly killing us. Sedentary, modern lifestyles are thought to be one of the leading causes of shorter life expectancies. It’s not the TV rotting your brain, so you can still enjoy as much Hulu as you want provided it’s on a Peloton or something.
You have healthy kidneys
As we age, pretty much everything about our body begins to weaken. While plenty of organs are essential for a long and happy life, the kidney is susceptible to a lot of accumulated damage through lifestyle and diet choices. This means it can sneak up and put an uncomfortable halt to your quest for the ‘century-old’ label.
You avoid red meat
While vegetarians certainly have a higher life expectancy overall, not all delicious meats are created equal. Red meats, like poultry and cattle, are known to contain all sorts of carcinogens, with processed red meat being one of the worst things to pack into your body. They of course have their benefits too, everything in proportion!
You love green tea
Many teas are packed with life-prolonging ingredients. We’ve already talked about anti-oxidants, which help promote everything from a healthy gut to a strong, pumping heart with steady blood pressure. Another potent compound found in green tea specifically is L-theanine, which has been shown to increase focus and lower stress.
As if life doesn’t throw enough curve balls our way, surviving through traumatic events has been linked to shorter life expectancies. Since there are so many kinds of trauma, and many are difficult to quantify, all we know for sure is that the combination of stress and anxiety certainly have a huge hand to play in this.
It’s rare to see such a consensus in science, but we are pretty settled on the idea that being rich will make you live longer. There are the obvious factors like access to premium healthcare, fresh and organic produce, and safer communities, but there are also the mental benefits. When your material needs are taken care of, you free a lot of stress from the mind.
You don’t blame DNA for everything
If you’re going to survive to reach 100, you have to be comfortable with who you are – that’s your soulmate for the century after all. Studies seem to indicate that around a third of our longevity is attributed to genetic factors, and the rest occurs as life leaves its mark on you. Plus, we can change an awful lot about ourselves anyway, who cares?
You practice Tai Chi
Tai Chi is similar in practice to yoga, with movements based on flow, tension, and release, but, mentally and spiritually, it’s an entirely different set of principles. It is considered a martial art and form of self-defense, but it’s slow and intentional enough that pretty much anybody can pick it up. Needless to say, the cardiovascular value alone will extend a life.
You were born into good circumstances
It takes a lot to make a life, but undoubtedly the best indicator you’re on a path to the big 100 is that you were lucky enough to be born somewhere safe and prosperous. If you’re born into wealth, that’s a huge head-start, but even being born into a community where you don’t (on the surface) stand out is an advantage not offered to many.
You live in a city
While urban areas can be much more dangerous and expose you to pollution, there is some evidence that city dwellers live longer than their countryside brethren. The research explained that the discrepancy is likely due to the economic deprivation of rural areas, combined with lower access to education surrounding health. It also takes health responders longer to arrive, increasing mortality rates.
You enjoy a little treat
Food and longevity is an area of study where it’s easy to find whatever correlation you wanted in the first place. Something can help you live longer, but still increase the risk of cancer. The fact that those things can actually be true is truly maddening. The US National Cancer Institute did say that two pieces of chocolate a day can help you live longer, though.
You have a cat
While owning any pet can have enough positive effects over time that you add a couple of years to the body clock, cats have been shown to have an amazing effect in particular. They seem exceptionally good for the heart, which clearly isn’t explained away by the cardiovascular exercise of walking them. If anything, owning them is 95% jaw-clenching stress while they sit completely still.
You’re not a pilot
A handful of studies have looked into why pilots seem to live much shorter lives than other professions, and the results are useful for the rest of us too! Flying a commercial jet is ranked as the third most stressful job in the world, so abandon those dreams if you’re an aspiring aviator. radiation exposure is also thought to play a role.
Yes, the taller folk live longer in many instances, although they have quite a significant biological disadvantage. In general, having more mass means more cells, which means more things that can eventually fail and cause cancer. This was an issue in the past, but the advancement of medical science has started to reverse the trend.
You’re not British or American
While the West, specifically these Colonial forces, has much in the way of comforts that are often taken for granted, it comes at the cost of a little vitality. The two cultures mirror each other in many ways (it’s almost like they had a messy break-up) and the foods, life concerns, and general sense of malaise are causing dips in the life expectancies for both.
You don’t play basketball (professionally)
Athletes, and normal people who just love throwing disks super far, tend to live longer and healthier lives. Basketball seems to be an outlier, with the highest level athletes dying younger than other sports, and those who peak early in their careers having an even shorter life span! Again, it’s likely a combination of intense physical demand and stress from their complicated and exploitative careers.
You wear sunscreen
Protecting your sun from harmful UV rays is a pretty easy and surefire way to ensure you not only avoid skin cancer but keep it looking overall healthy well into your old age. The sun might be the reason we’re all here, but we don’t owe it everything, and that’s an extremely toxic expectation from the sun.
You don’t hold grudges
In the case of “the only ethical grudge is my grudge” we know that revenge doesn’t solve anything. It’s destructive and unproductive, but it’s still an emotion and we can’t help but feel anger and resentment when wronged. There are a lot of powerful neurotransmitters like cortisol that flow through your body when you let vengeance corrupt you, young Padawan.
You pay attention to the details
People who only count huge, life-altering events as opportunities for change find themselves waiting for time to do the work for them. Tiny changes like waking up a little earlier some days, or later if that’s what you need, are what add up both biologically and mentally to help extend your life. It also keeps it much richer as a result.
You’re just entering your 40s
We’ve touched on why small, gradual life changes are an excellent way to begin increasing your longevity, and research suggests that starting around our 40s could yield the best results. The report by the VA Boston Healthcare System showed that potential increases get lower as your starting age increases, but even in your 60s, you can add decades to your life expectancy.
You enjoy a crossword
Not necessarily just that, it can be any language or logic game, like Wordle, trying to understand how records work, or Fortnite. The point is a focused mind that stays engaged, entertained, and actively learning later in life is much safer from cognitive conditions like dementia and dysphasia. A strong brain will keep ticking along for years.
You were born after 1978
It’s quite difficult to quantify the damage lead paint has done to our society, instead, we simply point to Florida and say “Never again”. Congress banned the manufacturing, sale, and use of lead-based paint in 1978 after substantial evidence had mounted that the heavy-metal toxin was responsible for an enormous amount of physical and psychological health issues.