Following these 8 healthy habits can extend your life by more than 20 years

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and an unhealthy lifestyle – which includes a diet rich in fats and sugars and a sedentary lifestyle – significantly increases the chances of developing these and others pathologies, such as obesity, diabetes or cancer. Now, new research presented at NUTRITION 2023, the main annual meeting of the American Nutrition Society, in which 700,000 United States veterans have participated, has revealed that adopting eight healthy lifestyle habits at age 40 you can increase life expectancy an average of up to 24 years.

The eight habits to which the study refers are:

  1. stay physically active
  2. Avoid opioid addiction
  3. never smoke
  4. Control stress to minimum levels
  5. To have a good diet
  6. Do not abuse alcohol
  7. Sleep well by maintaining good sleep hygiene
  8. Have positive social relationships

Specifically, and according to the results of the study, men who have these eight habits at age 40 will live an average of 23.7 years longer than those who did not adopt any of them and who, in the case of women, having the eight healthy lifestyle factors in midlife was associated with an additional 22.6 expected years of life compared with those with none. Compared with those who had not adopted any of the above healthy lifestyle factors, veterans with a combination of 8 individual therapeutic lifestyle factors had a 13% reduction in all-cause mortality.

“We were amazed at how much could be gained by adopting one, two, three or all eight lifestyle factors,” he said. Xuan-Mai T. Nguyen, a health sciences specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs and a fourth-year medical student at Carle Illinois College of Medicine. “The results of our research suggest that adopting a healthy lifestyle is important for both public health and personal well-being. The sooner the better, but even if you only make a small change at age 40, 50 or 60, it’s still beneficial.”

Factors that most influence life expectancy

The researchers analyzed data from the medical records and questionnaires of 719,147 US military veterans who participated in the Veterans Affairs Million Veterans Program between 2011 and 2019. Participants were between 40 and 99 years old and 33,375 people died during follow-up.

“Embracing a healthy lifestyle sooner is better, but even if you only make a small change in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, it’s still beneficial”

The factors that most influenced the life expectancy of these individuals were low physical activity, opioid use, and smoking, which were associated with between 30% and 45% increased risk of death during the study period. Stress, binge drinking, inadequate eating, and poor sleep hygiene were each associated with a 20% increased risk of death, while lacking positive social relationships was associated with a 5% increased risk of death. Death risk.

The authors of the paper have highlighted the impact on life expectancy of habits that contribute to the development of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which cause disability and premature death. The results also help determine the degree to which healthy lifestyle choices can help people reduce their risk of these diseases and live longer.

“The lifestyle medicine it aims to treat the underlying causes of chronic diseases rather than their symptoms,” Nguyen explained. “It provides a potential pathway to alter the course of rising health care costs as a result of prescription drugs and surgical procedures.”

Although the estimated increase in life expectancy from incorporating the eight healthy lifestyle habits decreased slightly with age, it remained significant, indicating that adopting healthy habits later in life may still help people live longer. “It’s never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle,” says Nguyen.

Because the study is observational, it doesn’t prove a causal relationship between a healthy lifestyle and increased longevity, Nguyen acknowledges, but the findings add to a growing body of research supporting the role of lifestyle factors. life in the prevention of chronic diseases and in promote healthy aging.


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