Posted on Jul 24, 2023, 3 p.m.
Eight healthy habits have been identified that are suggested to help people extend their lifespan by decades if they start doing by the time they turn 40. The study which was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition: NUTRITION 2023, found that men who integrated all eight habits by their 40th birthday extended their longevity by 24 compared to those who did not, and similarly women extended their lifespans by 21 years.
Findings from this study are based on a study investigating the lifestyles of over 700,000 American Veterans who adopted eight healthy habits by middle age: being physically active, being free from opioid addiction, not smoking, keeping stress in check, following a good diet, not binge drinking, having good sleep hygiene, and nurturing positive social relationships.
“We were really surprised by just how much could be gained with the adoption of one, two, three, or all eight lifestyle factors,” says Xuan-Mai T. Nguyen, a health science specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs and a fourth-year medical student at Carle Illinois College of Medicine. “Our research findings suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle is important for both public health and personal wellness. The earlier the better, but even if you only make a small change in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, it still is beneficial.”
Data from the medical records and questionnaires collected from 719,147 people between the ages of 40-99 years old who were enrolled in the Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program were analyzed for this study which included 33,375 deaths during follow-up. Results revealed that overall low physical activity, smoking, and opioid use had the biggest impacts on lifespan, and these factors were associated with a 30-45% higher risk of death, stress, poor diet, poor sleep, and binge drinking were associated with a 20% increased risk of death, and lack of positive social relationships was associated with a 5% increased risk of death.
Findings highlight the roles that these lifestyle factors play in contributing to chronic diseases (like heart disease and type 2 diabetes) that lead to premature disability and death, and also help to quantify the degree to which making healthful lifestyle choices can help people to reduce their risks of disease to live longer, according to the researchers. The gain in longevity from adopting these healthy lifestyle factors grew slightly smaller with age, but still remained significant, meaning that it is never too late to adopt a healthful lifestyle.
“Lifestyle medicine is aimed at treating the underlying causes of chronic diseases rather than their symptoms,” said Nguyen. “It provides a potential avenue for altering the course of ever-increasing health care costs resulting from prescription medicine and surgical procedures.”
While the nature of observational studies can not prove definitive causality, the findings align with an ever-growing body of anti-aging evidence in support of the role of healthful lifestyle factors in helping to prevent chronic disease as well as promoting healthy aging.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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