The average life expectancy in the U.S. has dipped to 76.4 years, according to December data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — but many medical professionals believe people can extend their longevity by adopting certain lifestyle habits.
Dr. Brett Osborn, a board-certified neurosurgeon in West Palm Beach, Florida, is also the founder of a preventative health care and anti-aging facility, Senolytix.
He works with patients to help them achieve a healthy weight, adopt better wellness habits and reduce their risk of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
“My motto is, you are never too young or too old for good health,” he said.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Osborn shared the five daily health habits he recommends to his patients to help them live longer, healthier lives.
1. Assume responsibility for your own health
While it’s important to consult with a health care professional as needed, Osborn emphasized that people should listen to their own bodies and identify potential risks.
“In general, standard health surveillance for the average American is poor,” said Osborn, who holds a certification from the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. “We simply are not aggressive enough in checking for and catching risk factors of fatal diseases.”
Most people aren’t proactive in discovering risks for themselves, he said — relying too much on their doctors or online health information.
“Don’t think that your doctor is going to find all your risk factors and save you from a heart attack or stroke — more often than not, that doesn’t happen,” he warned. “These are silent killers that can do their damage before someone experiences symptoms.”
“Don’t think that your doctor is going to find all your risk factors and save you from a heart attack or stroke — more often than not, that doesn’t happen.”
Given the prevalence of both high blood pressure and insulin resistance, Osborn recommends that everyone self-monitor at home for the early signs of these potentially deadly problems.
“People who wait for their annual check-up to find out what’s going on with their health are making a terrible mistake,” he said. “A lot can go wrong in the year or two between visits to the doctor, and lack of persistent attention or procrastination can kill you.”
2. Take these 6 blood tests — and take them seriously
The best way to prolong your life is to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to Osborn — and the first step in doing so is identifying the risk factors.
“It is nearly impossible to achieve optimal health without taking intermittent snapshots of the inner workings of your body to guide you, which can be provided by laboratory testing that will accurately identify any and all risk factors,” Osborn said.
“Taking these tests early — and taking the results seriously — can save your life.”
Osborn recommends implementing six blood tests to help prevent age-related diseases.
1. Lipid Profile. This test provides a rough idea of the ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol, he said.
2. Vertical Auto Profile (VAP). This is a cholesterol, lipid and lipoprotein test that measures all the components of a standard lipid profile and also delves further, segmenting cholesterol into sub-types.
“I would strongly consider VAP testing in lieu of the standard lipid profile if you have high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of heart disease or stroke,” Osborn said.
“You may be surprised to learn that what was once deemed ‘normal’ in the standard lipid profile is far from it.”
3. C-Reactive Protein (CRP). Patients with obesity and metabolic syndrome have elevated CRP levels, which is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and atherogenic dyslipidemia, Osborn explained.
4. Homocysteine. “Elevations in homocysteine are associated with a variety of diseases, including heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis,” Osborn said.
5. Hemoglobin A1C. This test measures how well blood sugar levels have been controlled over weeks or months.
“This test doesn’t lie,” Osborn said. “It is an average, a wide-angle lens, not an instantaneous snapshot like a fasting glucose level. You want this level to be as low as possible.”
6. Vitamin D3. There is evidence that Vitamin D3 deficiency is associated with stroke, insulin resistance, Alzheimer’s dementia, coronary artery disease and cancer, according to Osborn.
“Get this tested and intervene if necessary, as failure to do so will predispose you to a variety of diseases,” he warned.
3. Embrace these 10 supplements
Although supplements are not to be used as primary treatments for ailments, Osborn said, they can be used as a complement to a well-rounded diet and exercise regimen.
“Supplements will not remedy your elevated blood sugar, blood pressure, gouty arthritis and hypertension — only you can. There is no easy way out,” Osborn said.
“The right supplement regime, however, can optimize your health so that your hard work is maximized to its fullest potential, and should be treated as equally important as the right food choices and fitness routines,” he added.
Osborn recommends these top 10 nutritional supplements to help prevent free radical damage, oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, the main factors of age-related disease:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Green tea extract
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
“Supplements will not remedy your elevated blood sugar, blood pressure, gouty arthritis and hypertension — only you can. There is no easy way out.”
Osborn opts to skip multivitamins, he said, because “the dosages of the individual components are fairly low.”
4. Work your brain
Although it’s not a muscle, Osborn emphasized that the brain benefits from exercise, both mentally and physically.
“Physical exercise and critical thinking both forge neural pathways in the brain,” he said.
“There is a component of learning while exercising or working through mental challenges like puzzles, and this process of learning literally rewires the brain.”
“As we age, keeping the brain active through physical activity helps to prevent the progression of age-related atrophy,” he added.
Physical activity helps to form synapses, which are connections between neurons that help to reduce inflammation, reverse age-associated spatial memory loss and enhance learning, Osborn explained.
It also helps to prevent diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, he added.
“There is also evidence that augmented blood flow to the brain during exercise promotes neurogenesis (formation of new neurons in the brain),” he added. “Exercise can enhance both learning abilities and memory.”
Beyond physical activity, learning a new skill can also “turbo-charge” the brain, Osborn said.
5. Know your food’s glycemic index
Measuring your food’s glycemic index (GI) is a way of rating the impact it has on blood sugar and insulin, Osborn explained.
This knowledge can then be used to find and avoid hidden sugars.
Kidney beans, for example, have a glycemic index of 23, peanuts are rated at 7 and white rice is 89.
“Simply put, the sweeter the food, the higher the GI value,” Osborn said.
After eating low-GI foods, glucose increases only mildly, which means there is less insulin produced.
“Tight glycemic control is primarily a function of several interrelated factors, such as ingestion of low-GI foods, lean body mass and daily exercise,” Osborn explained.
“While low-glycemic index carbohydrate consumption facilitates weight loss, eating your daily vegetables has far greater, life-extending effects,” he added.