How to Live Longer in 5 Easy Steps

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Photographed by Angelo Pennetta, Vogue, April 2013

What’s the secret to a longer life? For that, there’s a promising new body of scientific research that youth-seekers will find compelling. Here, five easy habits that might extend your lifespan—worth exploring.
Go Vegan(-ish)
Last summer, a group of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital researchers revealed the hidden virtues of plant protein. After tracking more than 131,000 patients for up to 32 years, the study found that swapping out processed red meat (sausage, bacon) for plant versions (beans, nuts, legumes) was linked to a lower mortality rate. The authors suggest that people should consider eating more plant proteins than animal proteins. Research fellow Mingyang Song added that fish and chicken are likely better choices than red and processed meat.

Add Spice
A recent study from the University of Vermont found that hot red chili peppers were linked to a 13 percent decrease in mortality, largely from heart disease or stroke. The data tracked well with earlier findings, and left researchers suspecting that the capsaicin in peppers may positively alter gut health and prevent obesity.

Get a Little Sun
Despite the common wisdom that sun exposure leads to increased skin cancer risk, studies have consistently found that incidental sunbathing is linked to a longer life. Last year, one survey of nearly 30,000 Swedish women found an association between some sun exposure and a decrease in heart disease, potentially thanks to vitamin D. “We found smokers in the highest sun-exposure group were at a similar risk as non-smokers avoiding sun exposure, indicating avoidance of sun exposure to be a risk factor of the same magnitude as smoking,” said Dr. Pelle Lindqvist.

Drink Coffee
The health benefits of coffee are well-documented, but the support keeps coming. This month, Stanford University researchers delved into the drink’s anti-inflammatory properties, which may have a real anti-aging effect. “That something many people drink—and actually like to drink—might have a direct benefit came as a surprise to us,” wrote study co–senior author Mark Davis. “What we’ve shown is a correlation between caffeine consumption and longevity.”

Don’t Give Up Social Media
Contrary to popular belief, Facebook and other social media sites may be good for your health. A recent paper claims that online social connections generally mimic the positive effects of real-world friendships. Who would’ve guessed?

The post How to Live Longer in 5 Easy Steps appeared first on Vogue.

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