The proverbial “fountain of youth”, may not exist, but lifestyle changes can do the same thing a study by Cambridge University shows. Some would give millions, or whatever they had, to buy an extra 14 years of life, but according to the latest research, it’s just four relatively simple behavior adjustments that combined could add well over a decade to your life expectancy.
The research, headed by Dr. Kay-Tee Khaw at Cambridge's Institute of Public Health, found that those who 1) exercised regularly, 2) ate five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, 3) didn't smoke, and 4) did not drink excessively, will on average live 14 years longer than those who do not follow these behaviors.
While there has always been plenty of evidence about the impact on health and life expectancy, very little research has been conducted on the combined effect of living all of these healthy behaviors. Fourteen years is a huge difference. The study's results are particularly important given the aging population of many of the world’s nations. All of these factors are achievable lifestyle changes, which can improve quality of life for people of any age.
The study, titled Combined Impact of Health Behaviors and Mortality in Men and Women: The EPIC-Norfolk Prospective Population Study published by the Public Library of Science's journal PLoS Medicine included 20,000 men and women aged 45-79 took part in the study. The participants scored between 0 and 4 depending on which behaviors they exhibited.
A point was awarded for not smoking, for moderate alcohol intake, a level of Vitamin C in the blood consistent with eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and not being physically inactive. Physical inactivity was defined as having a sedentary job and not taking any form of exercise in leisure time. Deaths were then recorded in the subject group till 2006.
After taking account of the influence of age, the researchers found that, over the course of 11 years, those who had a score of zero were four times more likely to die than those with a score of four, while those scoring zero had the same risk of dying as those who were 14 years older than them. These findings were independent of social class or Body Mass Index.
This research echoes the sentiments of the popular book The Culprit & The Cure, written by one of the nation’s leading health experts, Dr. Steven G. Aldana. His book concisely outlines how lifestyle is the single largest culprit behind America’s poor health, and how transforming that lifestyle is the only real cure. According to Aldana, the chronic diseases that many live with today are largely preventable. He notes, "approximately 40% of all cancers are caused by the typical American diet, lack of physical activity and obesity, and that cancer is mostly a preventable disease." And, "Chronic diseases are among the most common and costly health problems to treat, but they are also among the most preventable."
Posted by Rebecca Sato