Another tip: floss. Research shows that bacteria that lingers in the mouth ends up in the bloodstream and can increase risk of heart disease.
Cut Stress / Connect With Family
In the nine tips outlined in Buettner's "Blue Zones" book, four of them (reduce stress; belong to a community; keep family first; surround yourself with people who have similar blue zone values) fall under this heading.
Stress corrodes healthy living and leads to bad habits that shorten lives: drinking, smoking and junk food, researchers say. Look for ways to reduce stress: exercising, playing games, walking, sex, gardening -- any hobby you enjoy. Draft a to-do list and then set a realistic plan for getting it all done. Simple breathing exercises can help slow a racing mind.
Experts also recommend people talk through problems even when -- especially when -- it seems really hard to do. It's been suggested that one reason women live longer is because they form closer networks of friends and lean more often on support groups. Financial experts note that money is the most common stressor for many men and they recommend facing any cash problems head-on and putting a plan in place to solve them.
Oz offers this last tip: laughing eases stress, promotes social bonding, lowers blood pressure and it may boost the immune system.
Engage Your Brain
Researchers are learning more and more about what keeps the brain sharp over time and how it affects lifespan. Scientists say that fewer than one in 200 people reach the age of 90 with no sign of dementia, and those people are offering researchers bountiful new data on how they did it, the New York Times reported last year.
"We think, for example, that it's very important to use your brain, to keep challenging your mind, but all mental activities may not be equal," Dr. Claudia Kawas, a neurologist at the University of California, Irvine, told the Times in a May 2009 article. "We?re seeing some evidence that a social component may be crucial."
The Times article featured a group of plus-90 women who play bridge, which tests memory and keeps the brain engaged. Evidence suggests that people who spend three hours or more a day engrossed in mental activities like card games might be at reduced risk of developing dementia, the Times reported. Researchers want to know if those card players are active because they are sharp, or sharp because they are active.
But studies so far certainly suggest that it's a good idea to take your brain out for a spin every day. Do puzzles or games. Read a type of book that is unfamiliar. Learn a new skill -- a dance step or basic phrases in foreign language. Change up daily routines a bit. Or get creative -- take a stained-glass window or woodblock print art class.