Health And Wellness

How To Not Die In 7 Simple Steps

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two women eating apples on track

I'm that one person in the family who tends to talk about uncomfortable topics — divorce, money, sex, and politics.

But I especially talk about death more than most because I want to learn how to live a long healthy life and find out how to not die. Interestingly, it's difficult not to talk about weight loss when it comes to increasing longevity.

My grandmother died from Alzheimer's disease, but her twin sister is still alive and now over 90 years old.

When my own sister got cancer, she was fortunate to go into remission, and her lifestyle choices have changed dramatically as a result. 

Both of these experiences forced me to think about my own longevity and happiness. With so much to learn from science, I am open to asking difficult questions in order to find the best answers.

So, when I read How Not To Die by Micheal Greger, M.D., I was surprised to read his statement that, like other disease-causing factors, dietary styles tend to run in families.

He also shared that if you learn how to change those non-genetic factors, you can reduce your preventable death risk by close to 80 to 90 percent!

If you want to know how to live a long and happy life — while learning how not to die from preventable disease — here are 7 simple lifestyle changes you need to make in order to live longer.

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Here's how not to die in 7 simple steps:

Step 1: Stop smoking.

If you're under the age of 40, you can quit smoking now and it will be like you never smoked.

No matter how many years you've smoked, you have a right to be optimistic when it comes to quitting.

The moment you stop smoking the body begins to heal itself. "Smokers mentally decline at a rate five times greater than non-smokers," according to WebMD.

Even if you follow a healthy diet, smoking not only negates the positive effects of a healthy diet but reduces longevity, which means you're likely to die before your time.

If you're worried about gaining weight after you've quit, remember that there are ways to control that, too.

Step 2: Get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day.

Besides improving your mood and increasing optimism about life, 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day will help you lose weight, reduce your risk of dying early, and add 3 to 7 years to your life. 

Walk, Don't Run, Your Way To A Healthy Heart from the American Heart Association states, "Walking and vigorous-intensity running resulted in similar reductions in risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and possibly coronary heart disease over the study’s six years."

RELATED: The Secret To Living A Long Life, According To People Over 100 Years Old

Step 3. Maintain a healthy weight.

Science has shown that weight maintenance and longevity go together, so another way not to die is to watch your diet. 

Besides adding more work for your heart, weight gain can throw off estrogen and leptin production, which have been linked to increased cancer risks.

Even a five-pound weight loss can dramatically improve your health and reduce your risks of cancers and other weight-associated diseases.

Not to mention, less stress and increased mental positivity are good for the immune system, too.

Step 4: Consume no less than 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Adding fruits and vegetables to your daily diet might seem inconvenient, but not only will this help you to lose weight, but it also gives the body what it needs.

The more fruit and vegetables you eat, the better your entire body will feel. 

Fruits and vegetables are superfoods full of water, minerals, and antioxidants that protect your body from disease. 

Step 5: Eat less meat and dairy, or go meatless.

Meat and dairy contribute to disease, and for a variety of reasons. When eaten in excess, eating dairy and meat products are worse than smoking cigarettes.

There are certain bacterial strains in meat that heat cannot kill in the cooking process, so farmers use antibiotics. Those same antibiotics end up in your body as you consume meat and dairy, affecting your immune system. And meat is hard to digest, which can lead to weight gain and other health problems within the intestinal tract.  

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Step 6: Increase your whole grains and aim for more fiber.

The body needs fiber to function properly. By increasing the amount of fiber you eat in your diet, your body will get rid of what it doesn't need. Fiber keeps you feeling fuller longer, too. Not only is fiber found in fruits and vegetables, but diets made up of whole grains high in fiber keep you from having sugar spikes. 

Step 7: Avoid processed foods and learn to be an ingredient reader. 

The United States Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines For Americans 2010 states that "52 percent of what Americans eat in their daily diets comes from processed foods."

Prepackaged foods are loaded with sodium, sugar, and additives that can cause you to gain weight. Processed food has also been linked to cancer. So, try to avoid eating it whenever possible. Not only will you lose weight when cutting it out of your diet, but you'll also feel better while living longer. 

Ultimately, the secret to longevity boils down to the choices a person makes each day. Each decision adds up to positive internal changes that ultimately help a person lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, feel better, and live longer. 

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Aria Gmitter, M.S, M.F.A., is YourTango's Senior Editor of Horoscopes and Spirituality. She studies with the Midwestern School of Astrology and is a member of the South Florida Astrological Association.