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99 ways to live to 99 - look after your body

99 ways to live to 99 - look after your body

Change your lifestyle
Look after your body
Take care of your mind
What to eat - and what to avoid
6 anti-ageing supplements

Look after your body

Check your blood pressure ‘Hypertension is the biggest cause of preventable death,' says Professor Graham McGregor. Around 120,000 people could avoid a stroke or heart attack and 62,000 lives could be saved, if their blood pressure was properly controlled.

Get help for depression It affects one in five people at some time and severe depression can be a killer. Symptoms can include tearfulness, fatigue, feelings of helplessness and guilt, lack of motivation, anxiety and low self-esteem.

Be aware of your diabetes risk You could be one of the missing million who have type 2 diabetes but don't know it. Symptoms include extreme thirst, going to the loo more often, weight loss and tiredness.

Have a glaucoma test Glaucoma affects one in every 50 people over the age of 40, yet there are usually no symptoms until the disease is so far advanced that eye sight is permanently damaged.

Check for skin changes and see your doctor about new growths, persistent skin ulcers or sores that don't heal within a month, new moles or moles that grow, change colour, become inflamed or itchy, have a reddish edge, bleed, ooze or crust.

Look after your breasts Know how your breasts normally look and feel so you recognise any lumps or changes and keep your screening appointments.

Have regular smear tests They prevent up to 5,000 deaths from cervical cancer a year.

Visit the dentist regularly Dentists are trained to pick up signs of oral cancers. Between visits check your mouth for sores that don't heal, white or red patches or lumps on the lip, in the mouth or in the throat.

Eat the Mediterranean way Greek and American researchers found that eating a Mediterranean diet could cut premature deaths by up to 25%.  

Do sit-ups A Canadian study published in The Journal Of Medicine And Science In Sports found that participants with weak abs suffered a higher death rate.

Have children late in life Researchers at the New England Centenarian Study found that women who have a child in their 40s are four times more likely to live to 100.

Get enough sleep... Depriving yourself of sleep affects the body in a similar way to the ageing process and may increase the severity of age-related chronic diseases.

... But don't have too many long lie-ins  Some researchers say that excess sleeping can lead to depression and mental inactivity.

Walk in the park A study of pensioners found that walking in an urban green space increases longevity.

Drink miso soup It's traditionally drunk at breakfast and last thing at night in Japan. Experts at Japan's National Cancer Institute found that drinking miso regularly cut death rates from cancer, heart and liver disease.

Move to the country Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that people living in the countryside live an average of six years longer than city dwellers.

Have a coffee A cup a day may help to protect against liver cancer.

Keep on working People who work past retirement age are healthier - and wealthier - than those who retire.  

Eat gazpacho US researchers found that volunteers who ate two bowls of gazpacho daily for two weeks increased blood levels of Vitamin C and showed a significant drop in the levels of stress chemicals that increase vulnerability to illness.

Know your cholesterol count If your cholesterol level is too high and you're unable to lower it using diet and exercise, your doctor can prescribe statins to maintain safe levels.

Get your snoring checked out
Obstructive sleep apnoea - which is characterised by heavy snoring - is a major health hazard that can lead to daytime sleepiness, an increased heart rate and high blood pressure.

Eat more chocolate But make sure it's dark with a high percentage of cocoa solids. These contain polyphenols - powerful antioxidants that may cut your risk of heart disease.

Take care of your bones Osteoporosis affects one in three women over the age of 50. To strengthen your bones, eat a diet that's rich in calcium and vitamin D, don't drink too much alcohol, stop smoking and take regular weight-bearing exercise.

Drink more water Your body needs it even more than food. Eight large glasses a day will help flush out body toxins.

Have a massage It can improve your circulation, speed up healing after injury, boost your muscle tone and promote general wellbeing.

Have more sex It's good exercise and releases endorphins. What's more, according to clinical neuropsychologist Dr David Weeks, sex releases a burst of human growth hormone and can also help to stimulate the immune system.

Live the Okinawan way With more centenarians than anywhere else on the planet, the inhabitants of the Japanese island of Okinawa are clearly getting something right. Their recipe for a long, healthy life? A low calorie diet with seven servings of fruit and vegetables, lots of wholegrains, oily fish and soya, and few milk and dairy products, as well as practising traditional dance and karate, and regular walking and gardening. People pray each day, have a strong sense of community and shake off stress easily.

Feature published in June 2005

The answers to specific problems may not apply to everyone and are not substitutes for professional medical advice. If you're worried, see your GP.

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