What are healthy habits? A new study

Americans don’t live as long as people in most other high-income countries. We hear so much about how healthy habits are the recommendations of the medical community, but often they come across as vague and not specific enough. How many times has your doctor said, “watch your diet” as you leave his/her office. Here are the highlights of a study that actually investigated the adherence of these habits and how they related to longevity rates.

Researchers found that people who maintained five healthy lifestyle factors lived more than a decade longer than those who didn’t maintain any of the five.

A Study led by Frank Hu at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed data from more than 78,000 women and 44,000 men who participated in two nationwide surveys (Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study.)

The study was funded by NIH National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and National Cancer Institute and published in Circulation on April 30, 2018.

Data identified five different low-risk lifestyle factors and compared health outcomes for those who adopted all five with those who didn’t adopt any.

The Factors:

1. Maintaining a healthy eating pattern (like the Mediterranean Diet) The DASH Diet or the MIND Diet are also healthy choices. You can find details on Amazon Books.

  • Recommended daily amounts of vegetables fruit, nuts, whole grains, polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids.  
  • Limiting red and processed meats, moderately.
  • Limiting beverages with added sugar, trans fats, and sodium

2. Moderate drinking (2 glasses for men and 1 glass for women) daily.

3.  Not smoking

4.  Getting at least 3.5 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week 

5. Maintaining a normal weight (18.5 to 24.9) BMI

Each participant’s medical history: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, age at death (when applicable).

Results:

At age 50, women who did not adopt any of the five healthy habits were estimated to live on average until they were 79 years old and men until they were 75.5 years.

 In contrast, women who adopted all five healthy habits lived to 91.1 years and men lived to 87.6 years.

From the medical histories, Independently, each healthy lifestyle factor significantly lowered the risk of total death, death from cancer, and death from heart disease.

Source:

Tianna Hicklin, PhD. Healthy habits can lengthen life. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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