Simple Strategies for Improved Health and Longevity

StrategiesHealthLongevityJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Recent findings reported by Dr. Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health found five key lifestyle factors that demonstrate great potential in extending life expectancy. Many will not be surprised by these fundamental strategies of improved diet and lifestyle: not smoking; a healthy diet; regular exercise; maintaining a normal weight; and drinking only in moderation. Simple strategies, yes, but not followed by the majority of us. According to Hu’s team, only eight percent of American adults meet all five goals. The researchers concluded that although many struggle to lose weight, quit smoking or change their ways, those who actively take personal responsibility for their health can reap remarkable benefits.

There’s good reason to adopt these healthy strategies, as researchers estimated that 50-year-old adults who maintain these healthy habits can expect to add a decade or more to their lifespan. That’s good news for Americans in general, as per the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. ranks 31st in life expectancy at birth as compared to 35 developed countries. While the global life expectancy is predicted to continue to increase, the U.S. is expected to see minimal gains and was found to be on track for the lowest average life expectancy of all high-income nations worldwide by the year 2030. Healthy societies, it appears, begin with healthy individuals.

While the study suggests that poor lifestyle factors have a major impact on health and lifespan, skyrocketing obesity rates, high mortality rates of chronic diseases, and lack of equitable universal health care also contribute to shortened and less healthy life spans in the U.S. The good news is that making healthy changes in adulthood can have a great impact on improving longevity in the U.S. population. The 30-year study concluded that women who maintained all five healthy habits gained an average of 14 years of life, and men who did so gained 12 years, as compared to those who didn’t improve or maintain healthy lifestyle habits.

Why this study matters:

Smoking: In addition to a significantly higher risk of developing lung, throat, bladder, cervical and kidney cancer, smoking increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. Smoking affects the health of the entire body including the immune, cardiovascular, digestive, respiratory and reproductive systems, as well as skin, periodontal, and dental health. The benefits of quitting begin almost immediately, as the body begins to heal itself. Within just a few hours, the body begins to detoxify, the heart rate normalizes, blood pressure drops, and circulation may begin to improve. After one month, lung function begins to improve, and within one year the risk of developing coronary heart disease decreases by half. After five years, constricted arteries and blood vessels begin to widen, lowering the risk of stroke. In subsequent years, overall health and vitality continue to improve and the risk of developing smoking related cancers drops significantly.

Healthy diet: Healthy eating positively impacts physical, mental and emotional health. The typical American diet is low in nutrients, and high in empty calories, unhealthy fats, sodium, processed foods, and added sugars. Following a balanced and varied whole food diet filled with fiber and antioxidant-rich colorful vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and proteins such as legumes and fatty fish, supports a healthy weight and lowers the risk of developing diet-related chronic diseases. A balanced diet provides the nutrients necessary for energy production and supports proper overall health and function. Per the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy diet can provide protection against cardiovascular disease, obesity, skeletal conditions and some types of cancer.

Regular exercise: A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily improves heart and lung efficiency, increases metabolic function, promotes a sense of wellbeing, and also helps maintain strong muscles, healthy joints, and good posture. Like any other machine, a healthy body requires maintenance. Physical activity not only reduces the risks of developing obesity and heart disease, it helps to maintain strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination, and can help prevent or reverse the effects of certain diseases.

Healthy weight: Many find it difficult to reach and maintain a normal weight. Factors that contribute to an individual’s weight include environment, genetics, metabolism, and behavior. While not everyone agrees that the Body Mass Index (BMI) is a useful measure that works for all body types, in general a healthy weight is determined by maintaining a BMI between 18.5 and 25. By maintaining a healthy weight, one can help control or prevent many diseases and conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, respiratory problems and certain cancers. To reach and maintain a healthy weight, make diet, physical activity, and sleep important aspects of your everyday routine.

Alcohol consumption: Moderate consumption equates to no more than one alcoholic drink daily for women and two for men. Overconsumption can take a serious toll on health, affecting mood and behavior, stressing the heart, liver and pancreas, weakening the immune system and increasing cancer risk. Although controversial, some research shows that moderate drinking may be cardio-protective, especially antioxidant-rich red wine, which contains flavonoids such as quercetin and resveratrol. Per the Mayo Clinic, moderate amounts of alcohol of any type is believed to support endothelial health, raise healthy HDL cholesterol and help prevent artery damage caused by high levels of damaging LDL cholesterol. Comparing moderate drinkers to non-drinkers may exaggerate the benefits of alcohol consumption, but the pleasure of having a glass of wine with dinner or a cocktail beforehand likely can’t be overstated.

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Clinical Nutrients...Clinical Nutrients™ Antioxidant by Integrative Therapeutics: This formula provides high concentrations of antioxidant nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and botanicals in support of cellular health and protection. Gluten, dairy and yeast free formulation.


Longevity NutrientsLongevity Nutrients by Pure Encapsulations®: This hypoallergenic, nutrient-rich formula provides highly bioavailable mineral cofactors, activated vitamins, and antioxidants in support of optimal health and healthy aging. Gluten free, Non-GMO, vegetarian formulation.


Ultimate Antiox Full...Ultimate Antiox Full Spectrum by Designs for Health®: This potent formula blends well-researched antioxidant compounds with botanicals and spices for comprehensive, full-spectrum antioxidant protection. Gluten, soy, dairy and yeast free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.


Ultra Anti-OxidantUltra Anti-Oxidant by Douglas Laboratories®: This low-allergen formula provides a wide spectrum of nutrients that actively participate in free radical defense. Gluten, soy and dairy free formulation.


Following five healthy lifestyle habits may increase life expectancy by decade or more.
The Effects of Smoking on the Body.
How Does Eating Healthy Affect Your Physical, Mental & Social Heath?
Benefits of a balanced diet.
What is a balanced diet?
Why Good Nutrition is Important.
Aim for a Healthy Weight.
Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.
Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?


Make Exercise an Instigation Habit

ExcerciseInstigationHabitJacquie Eubanks RN BSN



Those with sedentary lifestyles who wish to make exercise a daily ritual often find that getting started is the hardest part. Yet building an exercise habit means getting started repeatedly. The most consistent exercisers are those who make exercise a specific type of habit, known as an instigation habit. This type of habit is thought to be beneficial to health behavior maintenance, as it requires minimal thought and makes going to the gym or out for a walk a routine occurrence. An instigation habit is an automatic decision triggered by an internal or environmental cue that can be as simple as hearing your alarm go off in the morning, signaling it’s time for a run, or going to the gym at the end of the work day instead of going straight home.

Developing any healthy habit is hard work, and exercise is no exception. However, focusing on cues makes habits not only easier to form, but also harder to break. Studies have found that exercise instigation habit strength is the only unique predictor of exercise frequency. Instigation habits differ from execution habits in that cues prompt one to automatically exercise without having to consider the pros and cons. By contrast, an execution habit simply means following an exact routine once you are at the gym. One study found that it’s not what you do for exercise that matters, it’s how you get yourself there that’s important.

For those new to exercise, sticking with the same routine, such as running on the treadmill, can help build self-confidence or enable one to become more comfortable going to the gym. Until one gains confidence in their activity, it can help to follow a routine exercise program. However, it doesn’t appear that doing the same activity time after time has any effect on long-term exercise frequency. Once established, an instigation habit allows one to try new types of exercise without fear of losing the habit. Research shows that by building an instigation habit, one can stick with an exercise plan that encompasses different activities, helpful for those who may be stuck in an uninspiring, monotonous routine.

Setting a habit requires consistency. Many of us may have tried and failed to set up a regular routine, even though we know how important exercise is to both short and long-term health. Those who exercise regularly are not only healthier but are often more energetic and less stressed. Scientific studies have shown that we can’t simply rely on willpower to change our behavior. Good habits are formed based on consistency, not frequency. Initially, it may help to set a plan to workout just one day a week and arrange your schedule around it. Make it so easy that you can’t say no, even when lacking motivation, so that you don’t skip the workout for any reason. Once consistency is established, add a second workout that you are sure not to miss. As time goes on, add other days to your schedule until you are working out at least three days each week and the workout becomes automatic.

As willpower is a limited resource, it often helps to focus on establishing a realistic process that you know you can handle. For many, this means making slow and steady progress with a focus on the journey, rather than the results. Initially, it’s more important not to miss workouts than to make progress. While we may dream of running a marathon or getting six-pack abs, getting into tip-top shape takes perseverance and patience. Set a realistic, results-oriented goal and be persistent. Remember that every journey begins with the first step. Today, your goal may be to exercise one day per week, but you can keep your eye on future goals to run that marathon next year or two years from now, as you gradually become stronger and healthier. Focus on the cues that will get you there. When you develop a ritual that makes starting your workout mindless and automatic, it will be much easier to follow through. Build the instigation habit first and focus on results later.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality products to support optimal health:

PreTrain NRGPreTrain NRG™ by Designs for Health®: This specific workout formula provides safe, beneficial nutrients to help support athletic focus, strength, mental energy and recovery, as well as reduced fatigue resulting from training. Powdered, natural strawberry flavored, gluten free formulation.

Athletic NutrientsAthletic Nutrients by Pure Encapsulations®: Designed to support physical training and performance, this complete hypoallergenic, nutrient-rich multivitamin, mineral and trace element formula targets energy and endurance and lessens muscle fatigue. Highly bioavailable nutrients provide support for healthy muscle function, as well as healthy tendons, ligaments and joints. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formulation.

Energy/Sports...Energy/Sports Formula™ by Douglas Laboratories®: This comprehensive formula provides a synergistic blend of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and botanicals specifically designed to provide intensive support for energy metabolism during sport and exercise. Gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, yeast, preservative and artificial ingredient free formulation.

Sport Oxylent...Sport Oxylent Blueberry Burst by Oxylent®: This 3-in-1 powdered supplement supports sustained energy, stamina and enhanced recovery. Science backed ingredients include amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes fortified with BioPerine® for enhanced absorption. Alaskan blueberry flavor, natural fruit and vegetable coloring, sweetened with stevia. Gluten, dairy, soy, caffeine and sugar free, Non-GMO formulation.

Habitual exercise instigation (vs execution) predicts healthy adults’ exercise frequency.
Habitual instigation and habitual execution: Definition, measurement, and effects on behavior frequency.
It’s Not What You Do, but How You Get Yourself to Exercise that Matters, study finds.
3 Simple Ways to Make Exercise a Habit.
Using Behavioral Science to Build an Exercise Habit.



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neuroscienceSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor



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