10 ways to a long and healthy life

1 Get walking. If you’re unfit, you’re twice as likely to die from a heart attack. The Irish Heart Foundation recommends that you get in 30 minutes of activity most days – gardening, walking, housework, gym, swimming.

2 Drink in moderation. A glass of red wine a day works wonders for your system – antioxidants help prevent cancer. Too much booze prevents your liver from digesting fats properly, contributing to high cholesterol and heart disease.

3 Move to the country. Pollution from car fumes, factories and power stations causes toxins, which may contribute to asthma and cancer. Or stay indoors on hazy days, when pollution is at its highest. Exercise in the gym or swimming pool instead.

4 Eat deep red tomatoes, as they contain higher levels of lycopene, which helps body prevent cancer. Lycopene increases with heat, so grill at will. Lycopene also helps prevent harmful build-up of cholesterol on walls of your arteries.

5 Buy a dog. Dog owners walk a lot, which helps keep obesity, diabetes, heart disease at bay. Looking after a dog also helps to reduce stress and can be a wonderful way of meeting significant others.

6 Have children young. Research shows that women who have children before the age of 30 have a lower risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding also protects against breast cancer.

7 Give up smoking. Tobacco smoke contains 4000 chemical compounds and contributes to cancer, heart disease and respiratory problems. Smoking causes almost 95 per cent of lung cancer, affecting 1500 Irish people annually.

8 Include oily fish – herring, mackerel, sardines – in your diet twice a week. Contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep your brain, liver and heart healthy and help cell renewal.

9 Eat dark chocolate. Not only does it release feelgood endorphins, but chocolate containing over 70 per cent cocoa is a rich source of antioxidants, which helps reduce cholesterol and risk of heart disease.

10 Make the most of the sunshine, even in winter. Helps prevent depression as well as converting cholesterol in skin to Vitamin D, which is vital for keeping your bones healthy.

First published: Irish Examiner

Copyright: Deirdre O’Flynn 2011

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