The five habits that will keep you alive

Turns out the secret to healthy aging isn't much of a secret at all: it is plain old clean living.

Treat your body like the temple it is, and you'll be rewarded with good health well into your golden years. And now, new research confirms this time-tested Biblical wisdom, identifying five good habits and all the benefits you can enjoy if you stick to them -- including a lower risk of just about all the diseases seniors worry about most.

Dementia? You can forget about it.

Diabetes? Won't happen to you.

Heart attack and stroke? All your friends may live in fear of the "big one," but you won't have to worry.

Not if you stick to the five basics of clean living for healthy aging:

  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Eat right
  • Get regular exercise
  • If you smoke, quit (and if you don't, don't start)
  • Drink only in moderation (or, better yet, not at all)

That's it.

Like I said, pretty basic stuff -- and if you manage to keep four of these five healthy habits, your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other vascular problems will plunge by 70 percent, according to the study of 2,235 Welsh men tracked for up to 35 years.

There's not a drug in the world that can make that kind of claim -- and that's not all clean living can do for you. These same basic healthy habits will also slash your risk of cognitive decline and dementia by 60 percent, according to the study published in PLOS One.

Not bad for simply living the way you should, because these five clean living rules aren't controversial even in the slightest. Both by-the-book mainstream allopaths and the best natural holistic physicians will tell you we should all stick to these basics for healthy aging and living longer.

And, when it comes down to it, they're not especially hard to follow.

Yet very few people manage to pull it off. In the study, less than 1 percent hit all five -- and I don't think that's limited to Welshmen. I bet it would also be less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, male and female.

That's a shame, because this is the "1 percent" anyone can join since you don't need money to have good habits (and if you quit drinking and smoking, you'll actually save some dough).

All you need is a little willpower.

And if a lower risk of major disease isn't enough of a reason to live clean, I've got another one coming up next.