Four Predictors of Long Life

Evidence is mounting that some rather surprising attributes and habits of a person's life can pretty well foretell whether that man or woman will live to a ripe old age. Here are four of them: -- Having strong legs. Leg strength translates into good flexibility, balance and endurance, which are crucial for avoiding the falls and other accidents that shorten so many seniors' lives. It's good to do squats, lunges and stair climbing to kill two birds with one stone: losing weight and gaining strength.

-- Avoiding soda (even diet soda). Recent research has shown that drinking one or more cans of regular or diet soda daily can double the chances of contracting metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It%u2019s speculated that this could result from the caramel color added to darken many sodas, or from the drinks' extreme sweetness, which "trains" the taste buds to yearn for sugar-heavy foods. A good soda alternative is seltzer water with a splash of fruit juice.

 -- Having been born to a young mom. Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that if a person's mother was under age 25 at the time of birth, the person is twice as likely to live to be 100 as an individual born to an older mother. This may be because a woman's most vital eggs are the first to be ovulated, producing healthier babies.

 -- Eating and drinking things in the red-to-purple range. Scientists have discovered that plant compounds called polyphenols, found in red wine, Concord grapes, blueberries and raspberries, tend to ward off heart ailments and possibly even Alzheimer's disease.


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