04/14/2012 10:00 am ET Updated Jun 14, 2012

Two Ways To Live Longer And Healthier

By the year 2030, one out of five people in the U.S. will be over age 65, and by 2050 nearly 2 billion people globally will be at least 60. An expected 76 million baby boomers, more men and women born than at any other time in the history of the U.S., will be experiencing aging at the same time. This unprecedented demographic shift is bound to create profound social, economic, and cultural changes over the next decade.

Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) chooses a global health topic to highlight on World Health Day. This year on April 7, World Health Day focused on healthy aging. The WHO addressed the global economic and social impact of our aging population.

Young or old, you can promote lasting health by incorporating yoga and the Mediterranean diet into your lifestyle. In honor of World Health Day, here are two ways to live a longer, healthier life.

1. Yoga Meditation Helps You Live Longer

A study presented at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Heart Association reports transcendental meditation (TM) can lower the risk of heart attack and death by nearly 50 percent in African-American patients with heart disease. Transcendental meditation (TM) is a form of yoga meditation introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1960s.

The researchers randomly assigned African-American patients with heart disease (a high risk group) either to a group including TM and high blood pressure prescription drugs or a group with high blood pressure prescription drugs only. TM was practiced for 15 to 20 minutes a day for 5 to 9 years.

The researchers found that the TM group experienced a 47 percent reduction in heart attack and death rates compared to the other group. The findings also revealed that the TM group had a significant reduction in blood pressure and psychological stress.

A 2005 study, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, found that TM can lower death rates in patients with high blood pressure.

Researchers analyzed the data of 202 patients (aged 66 and older) with high blood pressure participating in published studies that included TM, behavioral stress-decreasing programs and conventional medications, over an 18-year period.

The researchers found that the TM group had a 23 percent decrease in overall death rates, as compared to the other groups. Furthermore, the TM group had a 30 percent decrease in death rate from heart disease and a 49 percent decrease in death rate from cancer.

2. Mediterranean Diet Increases Longevity

A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals the Mediterranean diet can increase a woman's lifespan as much as 15 years and a man's up to eight years. The Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, fruits, olive oil, fish, and nuts and low in red meat and milk products. Experts believe the Mediterranean diet is one of the the healthiest in the world.

Researchers followed 120,852 men and women ages 55 to 69 for more than 10 years. Diet and lifestyle questionnaires were obtained from the participants.

The researchers found that those who ate a Mediterranean diet combined with exercise, no smoking, and healthy weight maintenance substantially lowered the risk of premature death.

A 2011 study, published in the journal AGE, shows the Mediterranean diet can increase lifespan in aging adults by about 20 percent.

Researchers analyzed data from the 40-year H70 Swedish study. The study compared 70-year-old adults who eat a Mediterranean diet with those who eat more meat and animal products.

"This means in practice that older people who eat a Mediterranean diet live an estimated 2 to 3 years longer than those who don't," says study author Gianluca Tognon, scientist at the University of Gothenburg, in a news release. "The conclusion we can draw from these studies is that there is no doubt that a Mediterranean diet is linked to better health, not only for the elderly but also for youngsters."

A third study published in the British Medical Journal found certain foods in the Greek Mediterranean diet may increase longevity. The Greek Mediterranean diet includes olive oil as the principal fat, high quantities of vegetables, herbs and fruits, goat's milk dairy products, legumes, oily fish, and a daily optional glass of wine.

Researchers followed 10,655 Greek men and women for more than eight years. Diet and lifestyle questionnaires were obtained from the participants.

They researchers found that a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and olive oil, moderate alcohol consumption (mainly wine during meals), and lower intake of meat were linked to increased longevity.

For more by Elaine Gavalas, click here.

For more on aging gracefully, click here.

To learn more about yoga's longevity benefits, download a free sample from Elaine Gavalas' book, "The Yoga Minibook for Longevity."

To learn more about the Greek Mediterranean diet and recipes, download a free sample from Elaine Gavalas' book, "Secrets of Fat-Free Greek Cooking."

You can buy Elaine Gavalas' books here.

Elaine Gavalas is an exercise physiologist, yoga therapist, weight management specialist, nutritionist and healthy recipe developer.

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Flickr photo by h.koppdelaney