If we were given a chance to live a long life, it's safe to say that all of us would like to spend our bonus years healthy. A recently published study provides us with an answer on how to live longer and healthier.
Researchers studied data from approximately 40,000 male health professionals in the US and around 73,000 female nurses in the US. All participants weren't diagnosed with any chronic disease, such as diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular disease at the time of their enrollment.
For more than 20 years, the participants were regularly checked for new diagnoses and even deaths due to the previously mentioned chronic diseases. Researchers also adjusted the data to consider the family's medical history, age, and ethnic background, among other considerations.
Five low-risk lifestyle factors were identified to help determine what a healthy lifestyle looks like. These are: a balanced diet, modest alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight (based on BMI calculation), daily physical activity (at least 30 minutes), and never smoking. These five lifestyle factors are added to determine whether someone has a low-risk lifestyle score ranging from 0 to 5. The higher the score, the healthier the lifestyle.
The study's findings suggest that 50-year-old women who followed four or five of the lifestyle factors may live 34 more years free from type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Meanwhile, men of the same age may expect an additional 31 years.
In comparison, 50-year-old men and women who followed none of the low-risk lifestyle factors may only expect an additional 24 healthy years.
The researchers identified diet as one of the most critical factors. In particular, fiber-rich foods have been proven beneficial for optimum cardiovascular health, which includes blood pressure regulation.
You can get your fill of fiber in plant-based foods, which include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Legumes, such as peas, beans, and lentils are also proven effective in decreasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and high cholesterol level.
To preserve heart health, experts advise staying away from foods that are high in saturated fat, sugar, and sodium. Refined carbohydrates should be avoided as well. In terms of weight, the researchers found that middle-aged men and women would benefit from maintaining a moderate weight and keeping waist measurements down. This is because obesity triggers chronic diseases.
The researchers also emphasized the benefits of quitting smoking. According to the study, those who smoked more than 15 cigarettes a day had the lowest chance of staving off chronic disease at age 50. Quitting smoking lowers the risk of developing lung cancer and heart disease. If someone quits smoking for 15 years, his or her risk of developing chronic diseases is close to that of a nonsmoker.Which of these five low-risk lifestyle factors do you already practice? And which factors are you planning to practice soon? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.