Healthy lifestyle habits can add up to ten years to your life expectancy. Five lifestyle factors have been identified as important, including diet, exercise and maintaining a moderate body weight. Unsurprisingly, as you probably already know, the two most important things to avoid to maintain your health after 50 years are smoking and overweight.
Reaching old age without chronic diseases
A recently published study concluded that certain lifestyle factors can increase chances of reaching a later age without chronic health problems.
A lot of research has been done on lifestyle choices, such as smoking, physical activity, eating habits, alcohol consumption, weight management and diet, which affect our overall lifespan and the likelihood of suffering from chronic diseases. However, few studies have examined how a combination of these factors relates to a long, disease-free life.
“We wanted to see if following a healthy diet and exercising ‘exercise could prolong life, not only life expectancy, but also life expectancy without chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes,’ said Dr. Frank Hu, MPH, professor at TH Chan School of Public Health in Harvard, Massachusetts, and lead author of the study.
5 Critical Health Factors
The researchers reviewed data from approximately 73 000 nurses in the United States, drawn from the Nurses’ Health Study, and nearly 40 professionals of men’s health in the United States, drawn from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Study participants were free of cancer, cardiovascular disease or diabetes when they were recruited.
For more than 20 years, study participants were systematically assessed for new diagnoses and deaths from cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Researchers made adjustments for age, ethnicity, family medical history, and other considerations.
Style factors low-risk lifestyle used to calculate a healthy lifestyle score were:
- never smoke
- at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity
- moderate alcohol consumption
- maintaining a moderate weight (defined as as a BMI less than 24)
- a healthy diet nne quality
A healthy lifestyle with low impact, moderate physical exercise, a balanced and diversified diet, a good hydration and an adequate amount of sleep can do wonders to help maintain a positive mental and physical state after 50 years and for many years.
Increase your healthy life expectancy
The years of life free of cancer, heart disease and diabetes at age of 34 years were of 000 years for women who were not following any of the low-risk lifestyle factors.
It was 34 years for women who had adopted four or five of these factors. Life expectancy without these chronic diseases was 24 years for men aged 50 years who were not following any of the low-risk lifestyle factors. It was 24 years for men who practiced four or five of these healthy habits.
Diet is key
Being selective in what you eat is one of the most important lifestyle factors. High-fiber foods have been widely studied for their cardiovascular health benefits, including blood pressure regulation. These foods are plant-based and include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
In addition, legumes, such as beans, lentils, and peas, have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. For those who wish to preserve heart function and health, it would be good to avoid foods high in sugar, sodium, saturated fats and refined carbohydrates. It is especially important to avoid these foods if you have high cholesterol.
If you plan to eat a food high in sugar, salt or fat, it is better to choose other thing. In addition, optimizing calorie intake and achieving or maintaining a moderate weight and waist circumference into middle age are the most important ways to reduce the risk of diabetes, along with regular physical activity and avoiding smoking.
Smoking and obesity: the two most dangerous factors
According to the study, men who smoke heavily, defined as 15 cigarettes or more per day, and obese men and women (defined as having a BMI of 30 or more) had the lowest chance of having a disease-free life expectancy at age of 34 years. If the five lifestyle factors examined: healthy eating, maintaining a healthy body weight, not drinking to excess, not smoking, and being physically active, for smokers, the thing the most important thing to do, of course, is to quit smoking. For obese people, it is important to lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight. Within 1 to years after quitting smoking, the risk heart disease and lung cancer decreases, and at 15 years, the risk of each of these diseases is close to that of a non-smoker.
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