These 12 simple steps from Lifescape Medical’s Dr. Susan Wilder can profoundly impact how well you age and how long you live.
Iam passionate about living an optimally healthy life, and I believe in transformative care that strives to make chronic disease obsolete. We have a way to go.
The average American spends the last decade or so of their lives in what I call the 4 D’s: diseased, depressed, disabled or demented. Americans rank 83rd globally for healthy life expectancy. How is that possible in one of the greatest nations in the world?
Here’s the good news…most chronic disease, disability and 90 percent of dementia is preventable without expensive supplements, prescribed drugs or inconvenient interventions. Here are my lifestyle hacks to turn old age into the golden age with energy, mobility and mental wellness.
I’ve based this on my more than 35 years as a medical professional and Dr. Kara Fitzgerald’s aging declaration book.
If you want to make a difference in your life, let’s go! If you want to get a baseline to understand where you stand today before you make any changes, you can assess your “biologic age” with a test like the one that we use from Tru Diagnostic, that helps you understand your pace of aging based on epigenetic DNA methylation patterns.
Here are my Daily Dozen:
EAT MORE PLANTS!
A recent Harvard study shows we can achieve optimal health and save 6 million lives globally just by shifting to a more plant-based diet. Eat organic as much as possible.
Another lifestyle hack, there are 12 veggies referred to as the “dirty dozen,” and they represent the most contaminated produce. If you’re eating organically sometimes, these are the ones to make sure you purchase from the organic section. These include strawberries, greens, blueberries, spinach, pears, apples, peaches, nectarines, grapes, peppers, cherries and green beans.
FERMENTED IS FABULOUS
Eat fermented food daily for a healthy microbiome, that means gut health. You can have 4 to 8 ounces of organic kefir or yogurt or 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup of fermented organic veggies, like sauerkraut, beets or pickles.
We can achieve optimal health and save 6 million lives globally just by shifting to a more plant-based diet. Eat organic as much as possible.
OPTIMIZE YOUR PROTEIN
We suggest eating 25 to 30 grams of protein three to four times a day for optimal health. You can get that from legumes, tofu, nuts, fish, eggs, dairy, poultry, meats and liver. I prefer raw nuts to roasted; I like free-range, corn-free poultry; and grass-fed, hormone-free meats.
YOU WON’T GET FAT ON FAT
Make sure to have 1 to 2 tablespoons of healthy fats. Those come from extra virgin olive oil, avocados, olives, beef tallow and ghee. The best-rated olive oil brands in 2023 were Life Extension California Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil with very high polyphenols, Lucini Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil everyday blend. A handful of nuts and seeds or 2 tablespoons of organic nut or seed butter will do the job as well.
GO WITH GRAINS
Unless you’ve got a gluten intolerance/allergy or an inflammatory condition, we suggest 2 to 3 servings of healthy, organic whole grains, like oats, whole wheat, buckwheat, quinoa, legumes or couscous.
You hear this all the time, and that’s because water has so many benefits. Dehydration is as dangerous as driving under the influence. Hydrate with at least 80 ounces of fluids within 10 hours of waking up for optimal health of the brain, heart, kidney, liver and cellular health. It’s best to start your day by front-loading 16 ounces of water when you wake up before you have your first cup of coffee. Add 24 ounces per hour of exercise (double if hot or doing endurance exercise).
This can take so many forms. I want to see my mobile clients moving 20 to 45 minutes daily. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercise is best, plus strength training 2 to 3 times a week and some form of balance exercise is optimal for a healthy lifestyle. I have some patients who set a daily alarm to move and stretch each hour. I have some patients who schedule these workouts on their calendars. Remember that walking your furry friend counts. However you do it, get moving daily.
Dehydration is as dangerous as driving under the influence.
CATCH YOUR ZZZZZ
I heard a new phrase that not sleeping is the new smoking. While that is hard to really quantify as a medical profession, the theme here is that not sleeping has a big impact on your health. I want to see you sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night uninterrupted. If you are waking tired, daytime dozing, snoring or sleeping with lapses in breathing, get checked for sleep apnea.
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YOU GOTTA HAVE FRIENDS
According to the Blue Zones, four regions around the world boast people living to the oldest ages. The lifestyle hack to their longevity is social connection. Research consistently demonstrates that people with strong social connections tend to live longer than those who are socially isolated. By investing in social connection, you can experience improved mental well-being, better physical health, and a greater sense of fulfillment in your life. It’s important to stay engaged and useful.
NEVER STOP LEARNING
Keep your brain active by learning new things. Challenge your brain with activities that rely on logic, math and visuospatial skills like crossword puzzles, Sudoku games, puzzles, and other games that promote mental gymnastics. These types of games require multiple cognitive abilities, which challenges your brain and improves processing speed and memory.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT
Manage stress in a healthy way. I suggest meditating 15 to 20 minutes a day. Practice mindfulness or just breathe 10 deep breaths daily. Use a cyclic sighing technique: in through the nose, sigh out. Doing this for 2 minutes daily is proven most for reducing stress. Do this simultaneously as you get up and stretch during the day, this lifestyle hack will get you feeling better and more energized.
Minimize alcohol to one drink per week for optimal slowest aging. Cease drinking if you have a memory or cancer risk. Have alternatives ready to go for social situations or times when you habitually reach for a drink.
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EAT THREE SUPERFOODS A DAY
These superfoods provide methylation, which means detoxification, aging deceleration and cancer prevention.
ABOUT DR. SUSAN WILDER
Susan Wilder, MD, IFMCP is the founder and CEO of LifeScape and a board-certified Family Medicine and a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and her medical degree from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She completed her specialty training in Family Medicine as a commissioned Air Force officer at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
Next, Wilder joined the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale, founding its Family Medicine residency program and serving as its first Director of Clinical Genomics Education. In 2003, she launched LifeScape, where she practices full-spectrum Family Medicine.
She studied meditation with Deepak Chopra, brain health with Dr. Daniel Amen, human motivation with Tony Robbins, and Functional Medicine with the Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Mark Hyman.
Dr. Wilder has special expertise in evidence-based nutritional and lifestyle interventions, hormone management, and advanced nutritional and genetic testing. She emphasizes collaborative, transformative care striving to make chronic disease obsolete.