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What are healthy habits of people who have lived over 100 years?

This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by Ray Schilling, M.D, University of Tubingen.

This topic has been reviewed many times in the media and continues to fascinate people.

  1. You want to stay active every day even if you retire. You want to move and keep your mind busy. Part of that is to do a daily formal exercise routine to keep those muscles toned, which prevents falls in the future.
  2. Eat a Mediterranean type diet or follow the Okinawan diet. These diets contain less meat (or no meat as in the Seventh Day Adventist diet), but lots of vegetables and fiber. This keeps your cholesterol down, your arteries open and your metabolism controlled, preventing diabetes. If you are not obese and you have no diabetes, you are going to be okay with your cardiovascular system for decades to come.
  3. Brush your teeth and floss every day. This will control the bacteria in your mouth and prevent leakage of them into your blood affecting your heart valves. Studies have shown that this prevents heart attacks.
  4. See your physician right away if there is a new skin lesion or anything that is different from before in your body. Removal of early cancer and treatment of any early medical condition is always easier to treat than waiting until it is out of control. Particularly with cancer treatment at an early stage, which usually involves only a small surgical procedure, this will reward you with a ripe old age.
  5. Watch excesses like smoking (cut it out!), alcohol intake and recreational drugs. Smoking causes heart attacks, strokes, and cancers, which shortens your life. Recreational drugs just interfere with your body chemistry and have side effects. Cut them out, if you cherish growing older than 100. Alcohol needs to be kept at a very low consumption if you want to preserve your liver, which is your central metabolic organ. If you can’t handle moderation with alcohol consumption, cut it out. Nobody ever died of not consuming alcohol.
  6. I did mention to avoid obesity, which is associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Your ideal body mass index should be in the 21 to 22 range. I thought I'd repeat that thought here again. You achieve this by the diets I mentioned above. It involves cutting out sugar and starchy foods.
  7. Getting sleep regularly, having an optimistic outlook on life and having good relationships helps to keep the immune system strong and your hormones balanced. This in turn will keep you healthy emotionally and physically.

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