Many studies have found that making just a few lifestyle changes—outside of food related changes, can help you live longer.

Have you ever heard of the Okinawa region? Well, it’s the largest island in the Ryukyu Islands in Japan as well as home to people that live a really, really long time.

While the average life expectancy in North America is 78.8 years, it’s 84 years old in Japan – and five times as many people from Okinawa live to be 100 years as their peers in the rest of the country. Researchers have studied the Okinawa’s residents for years, and the answer lies in the typical Okinawan diet, the islands’ attitude toward eating and their overall low stress lifestyle.

The Okinawans are not only selective in the types of foods they eat but in the manner in which they live as well. Researchers have found that their low-stress, simple and carefree lifestyle have greatly contributed to their unusually long life expectancy rates.

Many studies have found that making just a few lifestyle changes—outside of food related changes, can help you live longer.

Eat mindfully  These days there can be a tendency to eat while distracted and shovel in more food than we need and, at the same time, miss out on culinary pleasure. Many of us will benefit from eating mindfully. Some things to think about here are avoiding eating when distracted, eating more slowly, and taking time to taste food properly. One particular thing to focus on is chewing your food thoroughly – not only does this help us savour food, it also assists the digestive process.

Get plenty of sunshine Sunlight, and the vitamin D this can make in the skin, is associated with a wide spectrum of benefits for the body including a reduced risk of several forms of cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis, as well as improved immune function.

Practice random acts of kindness Have you ever been in the drive thru at Tim’s and when you finally reached the counter, you were pleasantly surprised to find that your order had been paid for? Random acts of kindness are good for givers and receivers alike. It could be a quick call or text to someone you care about or have lost touch with, or showing a fellow motorist some consideration, or giving up your seat on a train or bus, or buying someone lunch or giving a spontaneous bunch of flowers.

Practice gratitude Modern-day living tends to be aspirational and we can easily find ourselves chasing an ever-growing list of goals, many of which can be material. Some of us could do with spending more time focusing not on what we don’t have, but on what we do. Our mood can be lifted by giving thanks for anything from our friends and family to a beautiful landscape or sunset.