Living 10-14 Years Longer: The Two Lifestyle Studies to Know

Want to live longer and better, often termed lifespan and healthspan, is all the rage and a serious focus of cutting edge science. While work progresses on stem cells, organ regeneration, and other modalities, lifestyle still remains the focus of planning a long life. Two studies, one just published, establish how simple habits may add over a decade of predicted high-quality lifespan.

1. The Harvard School of Public Health Study 2018

Maintaining five healthy habits—eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy body weight, not drinking too much alcohol, and not smoking—during adulthood may add more than a decade to life expectancy, according to a study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health published in March 2018 in the journal Circulation.

Researchers also found that U.S. women and men who maintained the healthiest lifestyle habits were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer when compared with those with the least healthy lifestyles over the course of the roughly 30-year study period.

Researchers looked at 34 years of data from 78,865 women and 27 years of data from 44,354 men participating in, respectively, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The researchers looked at how not smoking, a normal BMI, 30 minutes or more per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, moderate alcohol intake up to about one 5-ounce glass of wine per day for women, or up to two glasses for men, and a healthy diet impacted mortality.

For study subjects who adopted all five low-risk factors, life expectancy at age 50 was projected to be 43.1 years for women and 37.6 years for men. Women who maintained all five healthy habits gained, on average, 14 years of life, and men who did so gained 12 years, compared with those who didn’t maintain healthy habits.

Compared with those who didn’t follow any of the healthy lifestyle habits, those who followed all five were 74% less likely to die during the study period. The researchers also found that there was a dose-response relationship between each individual healthy lifestyle behavior and a reduced risk of early death, and that the combination of all five healthy behaviors was linked with the most additional years of life.

2. Global Burden of Disease Study 2022

In an analysis of data from over a half a million subjects, it was predicted if certain dietary habits can literally years to of life. The study was published in PLOS Medicine February 8, 2022.

Based on the results, a diet rich in legumes (peas, lentils, soybeans), whole grains (oats, corn, brown rice), and nuts – with a lower red and processed meat intake – could increase life expectancy by up to 10 years to a young adult’s life, and six to seven years in middle-aged adults. A  free, interactive online calculator called Food4HealthyLife that can be used to estimate the value of a range of dietary changes to your life expectancy was published too. .

One of the reasons for the the study is the fact that dietary risk factors are estimated to cause a staggering 11 million deaths annually all over the world. They considered changes in the intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, refined grains, nuts, legumes, fish, eggs, dairy, red meat, processed meat, and sugary drinks. The largest gains, they found, would be made by eating more legumes, whole grains, and nuts, combined with less red and processed meat.Research in human cells indicates that these plant-based food choices may y slow down or prevent damage to cells.

Dr. Joel Kahn

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