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Tips from traditional Chinese medicine to live a healthy long life

Updated on June 29, 2012

A large part of longevity is dependent upon genetics. If your family members lived for a long time, chances are you will too. But, a proper life style and habits may improve your health and lead to a happier and longer life. Here are a few tips from traditional Chinese medicine to help you live a healthy long life.


1. Keep active

Regular exercise not only helps to maintain flexibility, joint resilience and balance but also keeps the mind alert and the cardiovascular system healthy. Walking, yoga, and Taiji (a.k.a. Tai Chi) are particularly good for maintaining fit muscles and improving your quality of life.

Taiji, in China, is the most popular healing exercise as well as martial art. Its amazing health benefits have been widely recognized by medical society and experienced by regular practitioners.

2. Mental health: reducing stress

Most elderly have suffered extreme stress in their lifetimes: work, wars, hardship, and the loss of loved ones. A study of female centenarians found they share a positive and easygoing attitude and tend to be less neurotic than average. Gerontologists report that psychological health is far more important than physical health for maintaining well-being in later life.

3. Diet

Smart eating habits might be the single most important longevity factor. The standard platitudes apply: fruits, vegetables and unprocessed carbohydrates such as rice should make up most of your diet; protein should come mostly from fish or lentils (or beans); and go easy on the red meat. Moderate consumption of alcohol is O.K. A long-term study shows that daily consumption of a glass of wine, beer or any other kind of alcohol can significantly reduce the risk of coronary disease and heart attack.

4. Sex & Marriage

A study published in the British Medical Journal tracked 918 men aged 45 to 59 for a decade and found that those who ejaculated less than once a month were twice as likely to die during the study period than men who had orgasms at least twice a week.

Increased sexual activity, however, does not mean that swinging singles have any advantage over their coupled counterparts. Research confirms that married men live longer than confirmed singles. Gerontologists suspect that better nutrition, attentive care during illnesses and the stress-reducing benefits afforded by a steady home life are possible factors.

5. Childbearing

Mature couples may hesitate to have children, citing studies that link older mothers with an increased risk of birth defects. But a recent study in the British journal Nature found that women who begin childbearing in their 30s or 40s tend to live longer than average. An earlier Harvard study suggests centenarians are four times more likely than average to have had their first child while in their 40s.

6. Sleep

A recent survey found that participants who slept an average of seven hours a day had the lowest mortality rates. Too much sleep, however, might be worse than not enough: nine hours per night was more risky than four. David Phillips, associate director of the Asia Pacific Institute of Aging Studies, points out that excess sleep can lead to depression, sloth and mental inactivity which proven impediments to long life.

Other healthy habits according to traditional Chinese medicine

7. Combing or brushing hair

Regular combing or brushing should be an important ritual in your effort to improve the quality of your hair and to prevent baldness. Combing your hair deeply massages the scalp and helps clean the surface of dirt, dead skin, and dandruff. It also helps the sebaceous glands to release their secretions and stimulate their normal activity. Don't be afraid that with vigorous combing you will pull out your hair. If the hair is already so loosely attached in its cuticle that it pulls out with combing, then it would be of no benefit to keep it there - the sooner it comes out the better.

Use a fine, high quality comb made of natural material (e.g. wood). Comb your hair 5-10 minutes, morning and evening. It is hard to find a proper comb in the market nowadays. Often one can only find plastic brushes. The best comb is made of either superior Peach wood or Chinese box wood so it won't create any static electricity. With its smooth teeth, it is perfect for massaging the scalp.

Did you know? There are many acupuncture points on our scalp, so anywhere you touch may be an acupuncture point. Massaging these points is particularly helpful in stimulating the blood circulation and relieving skin tightness. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, combing your hair can help you sleep well and is regarded a cure for high blood pressure.

8. Foot massage

Your feet are far more than a couple of clumps of flesh and bone used just for walking, and all too often are neglected apart from simple washing. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), however, their condition is seen as crucial to the health of your whole body, and thus they should receive special care.

The sole of the foot is seen to contain all the acupuncture points which are connected to every part of your body through 300 nerves, thus affecting the condition and function of the whole.

Skilful TCM stroking of the feet is said to stimulate vital functions, eliminate toxins, improve blood circulation and soothe people of nervous disposition. In short, foot massage improves the balance of yin and yang, resulting in top-to-toe health and harmony for the patient.

Foot massage, an ancient oriental art, has for centuries been popular in China. There certainly seems to be evidence that foot reflexology can at least cure minor ailments such as colds, and relieve head and stomach discomforts. And countless people testify to the way it reduces stress.

In stead of going to a foot-reflexology studio, you can massage your foot by yourself simply use your fingers or a soft brush (an old toothbrush will do the job perfectly).


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      Josie 5 years ago

      Very informative article. Thanks for all of the health tips!