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5 ways to live a long happy life

Posted May 09 2011 12:00am
Being in my mid-twenties, you probably don't think I'm really qualified to be giving tips on living a long life. Well, sometimes I feel as though I have lived a lifetime and, even though I haven't got there yet, I still think I have learnt a thing or two about how to enjoy life.

Research suggests that our diet, stress levels, and general outlook on life are up there in terms of determining how happy and healthy we will be as we age. So here are some tips to ensure you are living life as A Modern Girl, way into your 80's, 90's and beyond.

1. EAT MORE RAW
Processed food, alcohol, drugs and any other toxins that you put in to your body (or on to your skin) are BAD. I'm sure you already know this, but I'm not just talking about junk food here. Most of us eat a diet that is almost completely devoid of nutrients so our bodies are never working as well as they could be. We feel this in all aspects of our lives.

We should be basing our diet on fresh fruit and vegetables, not just adding a few strawberries to our bowl of cereal each morning. If the majority of our food intake is unadulterated, organic and completely natural, we can get most, if not all, of the necessary vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals that our body needs.

Heat changes the molecular structure of food and damages the nutrients and enzymes present. Cooked foods and especially highly processed ones make our bodies work very hard to digest them. This will cause us to age quicker and probably die younger.

Eating mostly raw fruits and veggies will also keep our bodies in a relatively alkaline environment. Many diseases develop in our bodies because it has become too acidic. For more information about this check out this post: Alkaline vs Acidity .

I've mentioned these stats before on the blog but I think it's a good time to repeat it....the average Australian household spends more on fast food than fruit and vegetables and five times more on recreation (note: not exercise!) than healthy foods. As a result of our poor eating habits, we then spend nearly twice as much on medical expenses as we do on fruit and vegetables. It’s not as though we can’t afford to eat or feed our children either - Australia is the only country in the world where childhood obesity is increasing faster than that of adults!!

So if you can, do yourself a favour and eat more raw! Your body will thank you for it and you will be looking and feeling younger in no time! You don't have to splurge on all of the expensive fruits either, eating raw can still be affordable, especially when you are cutting out all of the other crap.

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2. MEDITATION & YOGA


A calmer you will most likely lead to a happier you. Personally, meditation has become a very important part of my life and I couldn't imagine getting through the day without this special time for me to reconnect with God, Buddha, or whatever you'd like to call it.

But don't just take my word for it. Neuroscientists have discovered that people who meditate actually shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex - from the stress-prone right frontal cortex to the calmer left-frontal cortex. This decreases the negative effects of stress, anxiety and depression. "If someone is struggling with feelings of anxiety, he or she may benefit from its calming aspects. And it's absolutely facilitative of mental health because it brings about a higher level of self-acceptance and insight about oneself," Dr. Roger Thomson, psychologist. (source:  Psychology Today )

“We can never obtain peace in the world if we neglect the inner world and don’t make peace with ourselves. World peace must develop out of inner peace.” - The Dalai Lama

Practicing yoga combines quiet, yet powerful exercises with breathing awareness, allowing for increased relaxation and flexibility. While it is great for our bodies in the physical sense, leading to a stronger and more flexible body, it also aims to balance other aspects of the self - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Practitioners often feel more centred and balanced in their everyday lives. It also increases balance and range of motion, which can help us as we age.

You might also like to check out: Just Breathe


3.  REDUCE/ELIMINATE DEBT

You cannot feel free or young when you have debt on your mind. I still have a small amount of debt and, at a time when I am earning very little money, I am still paying some off. Not as much as I'd like, but I will get there!
"Financial stress is aging!" Kathy Divine in her book  Forever 21.

For me, it is simply a matter of self-discipline, which takes a lot of practice. I think if you block everyone else out and work out what your needs are then you can begin to prioritize. As soon as you start to compare yourself to others you start to think, ' Hey I want one of those too!' Put this attitude into overdrive and share it with everyone around you, and you have our ridiculously over-consuming society.  
According to a survey done in 2010, one in five Australians struggle to make their repayments. The stress that debt causes can lead to all sorts of health issues, including ulcers, heart attacks, migraines and depression.
What I've only recently realized is that earning more money is not the answer! For most of my adult life I have been in debt and I was in the most debt while earning the most amount of money. I have never been very patient I suppose and I have always wanted things NOW.
I think it's time though that I give the credit card the flick. And you should try to as well! Instead, let's bring back that cute little pink piggy bank. He'll keep our money safe and when we've saved enough like good little girls we can buy whatever we want! Guilt free and much more satisfying.

4. CUT OUT ANIMAL PRODUCTS
Reducing or eliminating animal products from your diet is a sure-fire way to reduce the risk of many diseases, thus giving you more chance to live a long, healthy life. Animal products such as meat and dairy have been linked to all sorts of diseases, such as colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Even the products that we are often told are good for us, such as eggs and fish, can also produce disease in your body.

Check out my post about the famous book, The China Study , the "most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease," The New York Times. The author, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, found that the people who ate the most animal-based food wound up getting the most chronic diseases, while people who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest.

If you are worried about protein, don't be. It is almost impossible to be deficient in protein and it is an excess of animal protein which causes our body to become acidic and lead to disease, while also leaching calcium from our bones, causing osteoporosis. I know it sounds crazy after a lifetime of hearing the opposite but there is an abundance of research out there these days which prove these claims. Oh, and green leaves have the highest content of protein per weight out of all foods, so most of us can get all of our protein needs from vegetables. Sounds much better than eating the dead flesh of another being to me!

For more info on going veg, check out this starter kit from Vegan Era.

5. BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND
Last but not least, learn to love you.  We often have people pushing and pulling us in all directions and if we don't take a moment for ourselves then we will age very quickly.  Often we do these things for others because we feel like we have to, but we will be no good to anyone if we run ourselves in to the ground.  


You might also like to check out Spring Clean Your Heart
Love You, Even Just  A Little
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