Study: how our habits affect the duration and quality of life

The study recalls that how to stick to healthy habits — eat right, exercise regularly, not smoke, maintain a healthy weight and monitor how much alcohol you drink can help us live longer. About it writes the Times.

Исследование: как наши привычки влияют на продолжительность и качество жизни

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In the study, 2018, an international team of researchers led by scientists from Harvard have found that adopting five healthy habits that can increase life expectancy by 14 years for women and 12 for men:

  • stick to the diet high in plants and low in fat;
  • train at the level from moderate to active for a few hours a week;
  • to maintain a healthy body weight;
  • do not smoke;
  • use no more than one alcoholic drink a day for women and two for men.

To verify these data, researchers wanted to know how many of these extra years were healthy, three common chronic diseases: heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. And the study says that a healthy lifestyle can actually contribute to the increase in life expectancy without disease. The results show that women can increase life expectancy without disease after 50 years by about 10 years, and men can add about eight years longer than people who do not have such habits.

“It is important to look at life expectancy without the disease because this has important implications from the point of view of improving the quality of life and reduce overall healthcare costs,” says Dr. Frank Hu, Chairman of the Department of nutrition at Harvard and the author of the article.

To figure out these patterns, the researchers analyzed data collected from more than 111 000 American women and men aged 30 to 75 years. Participants answered questions about their lifestyle habits and their health every two years from 1986 to 2014.

Based on the answers each participant was assigned a “lifestyle” from 0 to 5, where higher scores reflect better adherence to healthy recommendations. Then the researchers tried to compare these estimates with how long the participants lived without heart disease, cancer or diabetes.

Women who reported having four or five of the healthy habits lived an average of 34 years longer without the disease after 50 years compared to 24 years for women who said that they do not adhere to any healthy habits. Men who reported that they have four or five lifestyle habits lived on average another 31 years without disease after 50 years, while those who did nothing, lived on average 23 years after age 50.

Hu says none of the five factors were not as important as others; the benefits of saving people from diseases and prolongation of life were the same for all five. In addition, evidence suggests that the contribution of each factor is additive — the number of years of life without disease increased with each additional healthy habit, followed by the people.

And since all study participants were older than 30 years, the results also show that “it’s never too late to change, says Hu. It is always better to stick to the habits of a healthy lifestyle as early as possible, but even taking them relatively later in life will still have significant health benefits in the future.”