How to help your clients establish habits to improve longevity
Habits greatly impact overall health and can affect your quality of life and longevity. As a nutrition professional, you can help your clients establish positive dietary and lifestyle habits to extend their lifespan and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. From plant foods to sleep hygiene, here are the best science-backed tips to improve longevity.
Science says that if you want to live a long and healthy life, you can improve nutrition, physical activity, and overall lifestyle to reduce the risk of chronic diseases; however, many of these daily activities can be bred out of bad habits and can spell disaster for longevity.
As a nutrition professional, you can work with your clients to help them establish new habits that will reduce the risk of premature death and extend their lifespan. But how long does it take to develop a new habit, and what are some ways that you can encourage your client to change certain lifestyle and dietary habits?
Before diving into some science-backed tips for longevity, let’s first discuss why habits are important, and how you can help your clients establish positive habits to improve their lifespan.
Why are habits important?
Habits are defined as a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously . Whether they are positive or not, habits greatly influence your overall health and can even affect your quality of life and longevity.
How to help your clients establish positive habits
When starting a new habit, it can be easy for your nutrition clients to get discouraged. However, a habit doesn’t develop overnight, so here are some ways you can help your client establish positive habits that will stick.
- Utilize a current routine. It’s easier to remember a new habit if it’s already paired with an existing one. For example, have your client put any new supplements on the bathroom counter so they remember to take them after brushing their teeth.
- Start small. If a new habit is too complicated, your client won’t stick to it, so start by making a new habit as easy as possible. This could include having your client go to bed 10 minutes earlier than normal, or add an extra dose of spinach to their morning smoothie. Once these behaviors become more normal, you can slowly increase the time for even better results.
- Do it every day. According to science, it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit . Little behaviors add up to big changes, so if your client does a small habit every day, they are more likely to stick with it in the long run than if they were to do big changes all at once.
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Habits to improve longevity
All positive habits are beneficial for overall health, but there are some that can have a direct impact on your client’s lifespan. Here are some science-backed habits to improve longevity.
Focus on plant foods
Research shows that eating a variety of plant-based foods (such as leafy green veggies, fresh fruits, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats) offer tremendous benefits for overall health, as they offer a reduced risk for chronic disease, depression, metabolic syndrome, and premature death . This is due to the variety of nutrients, like fiber, and antioxidants (such as carotenoids, folate, and vitamin C) found in plant foods, as these compounds are anti-inflammatory and have been found to enhance longevity through promoting weight management, boosting gut health, and reducing cholesterol levels [4,5]. Moreover, several studies have linked vegetarian and vegan diets (which are primarily based on plant foods) to a 12-15% lower risk of premature death .
To help your clients reap the all-powerful benefits of plant foods, try to incorporate more of them into each personalized meal plan and provide helpful tips to boost overall intake. Whether it’s adding black beans into a soup, topping whole grain toast with avocado, or enjoying bell peppers with hummus, there are many ways to incorporate plant-based foods to help increase your client’s lifespan.
Drink coffee or tea
Coffee and tea lovers rejoice–science says that moderate consumption of these beverages can actually benefit healthy aging and improve longevity, as people who drink plain coffee or tea tend to have a 20–30% lower risk of premature death compared to their counterparts .
This could be due to certain compounds (such as polyphenols and catechins) found in green tea, as these have been shown to reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease . Moreover, coffee is teeming with antioxidants that are also linked to a lower risk of certain cancers, brain diseases, and premature death .
You can encourage your clients to enjoy a few cups of plain coffee or tea per day to help improve longevity and overall health. However, too much caffeine can wreak havoc on your client’s sleep cycle and mental health, so it’s recommended to not consume more than 400 mg/day.
Stay physically active
By encouraging your clients to stay physically active, you can reduce their risk of chronic disease, improve muscle strength, and extend their lifespan. While it’s recommended to exercise for 150 minutes/week, even small amounts can make a difference. Studies show that exercising for 15 minutes/day can add an additional three years to your life, while those who are active for the recommended amount of time experienced a 28% less chance of dying early .
You can help your clients achieve their physical activity goals with Nutrium’s activity logs. It’s a helpful way to keep your clients motivated and encouraged, as it can establish better habits and increase their overall lifespan.
Make positive lifestyle changes
There are certain changes you can encourage your clients to make if they want to improve their longevity, with smoking and alcohol consumption being a few of them.
While one occasional drink may not be cause for concern, excessive alcohol consumption (<2 drinks/day) has been linked to chronic diseases, certain cancers, and mental deterioration, all of which increase the risk of premature death by 20% [11,15]. Similarly, smoking has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer, certain diseases, chronic inflammation, and an increased risk of mortality, as studies have found that those who smoke lose up to 10 years of life compared to those who don’t smoke. But it’s never too late to quit; research shows that if you stop smoking before 40 years old, you reduce the risk of dying by 90% and can prolong your life by up to 8 years [12,13,14].
Improve sleep habits
Sleep can often be overlooked when it comes to health, but it’s an important factor that needs to be addressed. Getting enough shuteye has been associated with an improved immune function, weight maintenance, reduced stress, and enhanced mental clarity. However, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a 12% greater risk of early death, as well as inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke [16,17,18].
Diet, lifestyle choices, and physical activity all play a role in sleep quality, and since sleeping 7-8 hours a night may help improve longevity, you can nutritionally support your clients as they continue to develop good sleep hygiene.
Habits greatly impact overall health and can affect your quality of life and longevity. As a nutrition professional, you can help your clients establish positive dietary and lifestyle habits to extend their lifespan and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. From eating more plant foods to drinking coffee and sleeping better, there are many ways you can help your clients develop positive habits to benefit their longevity and overall well-being.
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