ChristianeLifestyle choices profoundly influence health. Christiane Northrup, MD, a women’s health expert and New York Times best-selling author, offers these 10 tips for boosting your resistance to disease.

1) Move your body regularly. Regular exercise, which can be as simple as walking for 30 minutes a day, has been shown to reduce the risk of every major chronic degenerative disease by at least 40%.

2) Breathe properly. This means in through your nose and then out through your nose. Breathing through the mouth is associated with increased stress and is part of the fight-or-flight response that releases the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. Breathing deeply through the nose expands the lower rib cage and stimulates the vagus nerve, the main nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system, activating a rest-and-restore response.

3) Get enough sleep. Most people require at least eight hours a night, while some need more. Albert Einstein, for example, reportedly needed at least 10 hours a night. Sleep is, bar none, the most effective way for the body to metabolize excess stress hormones that otherwise result in cellular inflammation, the root cause of all chronic degenerative diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes.

4) Get outside and get some sun. Natural light is a nutrient, and the body requires it to produce adequate amounts of serotonin in the brain, which elevates mood. Natural light helps prevent seasonal affective disorder and PMS. Few people around the world have optimal levels of vitamin D, which are boosted through regular sun exposure. In the winter, when you don’t have a lot of exposure to sunlight, try eating sockeye salmon, eggs, and milk, which are rich dietary sources of vitamin D.

5) Regularly confide in at least one good friend. Studies have shown that having at least one friend in whom you can confide adds about 10 years to your life.

6) Express gratitude. Find at least five things to appreciate every single day and write them down. Studies have shown that appreciation significantly decreases stress levels. It also makes us happier, and happiness is an optimal biologic state in which all functions, including eyesight and hearing, work better.

7) Cultivate mindfulness. How you think about something has profound physical effects. Ellen Langer, PhD (a Harvard professor of psychology), has done astounding research showing that the way in which we create meaning in our minds has a huge effect on our physical bodies. For example, in one study of hotel maids, those who were led to believe that their daily work constituted enough exercise to meet the guidelines for the Presidents Council on Physical Fitness lost weight and had lowered blood pressure. The control group, the members of which had not been told their activity was significant in any way, experienced no changes. Both groups did the same amount of exercise.

8) Stay hydrated. Drink a couple glasses of warm water when you wake up and aim to drink 12 glasses throughout the day, including before bedtime. We often mistake thirst for hunger and overeat as a result. Sipping water (at room temperature or warmer) throughout the day will significantly decrease overeating.

9) Cut way back on sugar. Excess sugar, not fat, is what has led to the obesity epidemic worldwide. Excess dietary sugar is associated with chronic degenerative disease because it enhances cellular inflammation.

10) Stop smoking. Statistically speaking, smokers die, on average, 14 years sooner than nonsmokers.