According to new study released by the American Heart Association (AHA), persons in the United States who follow five healthy living practises may live more than a decade longer than those who do not. These are the five habits:
- consuming a nutritious diet
- regular physical activity
- not a smoker
- maintaining a healthy weight
- Limiting drinking
Men in the research had an average life expectancy of 14 years and women had an average life expectancy of 12 years when they followed all five behaviours starting at the age of 50. The study was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation on April 30, 2018.
Researchers examined data from 123,219 participants who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study from 1980 to 2014 and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1986 to 2014. They estimated the influence of the 5 healthy living practises on how long people lived using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The following are some of the findings:
- 42,167 individuals in the research died during the course of a 34-year follow-up period.
- Cancer claimed the lives of 13,953 people, while cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of 10,689 people.
- Life expectancy was shown to be increased in men and women who reported following all five healthy living behaviours. Women who had not acquired any of the healthy living habits at the age of 50 had an average remaining life expectancy of 29 years, compared to 43.1 years for women who had embraced all five healthy lifestyle behaviours. Those aged 50 who did not acquire any of the healthy living behaviours had a life expectancy of 25.5 years left, compared to 37.6 years for men who embraced all five healthy lifestyle activities.
- Those who practised all five healthy behaviours were shown to be 74% less likely to die during the study’s follow-up period than those who did not. They had an 82 percent lower chance of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 65 percent lower chance of dying from cancer.
- In this study, each healthy behaviour was related to a lower risk of early mortality, with the combination of all five habits exhibiting the lowest risk.
How healthy is ‘healthy?’
Researchers devised a scoring system to evaluate diets among study participants, awarding higher points to those who reported consuming more healthy items and less harmful ones. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains were all considered healthy eating. Red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, trans fat, and salt were among the unhealthy foods. According to the American Cancer Society, you should:
- Each day, consume at least 2 1/2 cup of veggies and fruits
- Choosing whole-grain breads, pasta, and cereals (such barley and oats) over refined-grain breads, cereals, and pasta, as well as brown rice over white rice.
- Instead of red meat (beef, pig, and lamb) and processed meat, choose fish, poultry, or beans (bacon, sausage, lunch meats, and hot dogs).
- Drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks including soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit-flavored drinks.
- Refined carbohydrate items, such as pastries, sweets, sugar-sweetened morning cereals, and other high-sugar meals, should be avoided.
- Foods high in calories, such as French fries, potato and other chips, ice cream, doughnuts, and other sweets, should be avoided.
Participants also had the best health scores if they never smoked, got more than 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity per day (including brisk walking), kept their body weight in the 18.5–24.9 BMI range, and consumed less than 15 grammes of alcohol per day for women and less than 30 grammes per day for men. This equates to roughly one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for males.
The American Cancer Society website offers a wealth of information on how to help reduce your cancer risk by making healthy choices such as eating right, staying active, and not smoking.