No matter what they claim, no one has yet produced a magic pill to recharge our youthful vim and vitality and add years to our lives. British researchers have, however, determined 4 simple lifestyle choices that can add not 5… not 10… but a full 14 years to your life!
The 4 steps to longevity were uncovered through a groundbreaking, largest ever study of diet and health called the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). In this study, British researchers at the University of Cambridge and Medical Research Council tracked the health habits of 20,000 men and women between the ages of 45 and 79 from 1993-1997.
Death rates were recorded until 2006, and the study was published in the journal PLOS Medicine. The findings were absolutely shocking and indisputable: Participants who regularly engaged in 4 simple habits lived on average 14 years longer than those who did not.
- Don’t smoke!
- Exercise regularly
- Drink moderate amounts of alcohol
- Eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day
You don’t need to hear another public service announcement on the dangers of smoking, so let’s sum it up succinctly with some alarming facts:
- Smoking destroys virtually every organ in your body
- There are 440,000 deaths (1 in 5) in the United States annually
- Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and stroke by 4 times and lung cancer by 23 times
2. Elevate Energy with Exercise
Regardless of sex, age or physical ability, each one of us can find an appropriate outlet in which to stretch, move, and strengthen our bodies. The benefits are extraordinary and go far beyond weight and heart health (those both of those are proven benefits, too):
- Lose and Maintain Weight
- Fight Disease and Illness
- Enhance Mood
- Increase Energy
- Sounder Sleep
- Boost Libido
Yes, you read that right—exercise boosts libido. Studies have shown that exercise increases women’s libidos and decreases erectile dysfunction in men.
3. Drink Without Guilt… To a Degree
Drinking moderately (no more than 2 drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women) can lower your risk of heart disease and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Moderate amounts of alcohol can raise HDL and help prevent blood clots from forming.
But drinking can also increase the risk of breast cancer. If you don’t drink, then don’t start for health reasons, and don’t use this as an excuse to drink heavily. Studies have proven that guzzling more than 2 drinks a day has negative health consequences.
4. Vegetables and Fruits Extend Your Life
Eating at least 4 1/2 cups of fruits and veggies a day reduces risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer, lowers blood pressure, and protects against eye and digestive disorders. Color and variety are crucial—dark green, yellow and orange fruits and veggies are loaded with health-enhancing antioxidants.
The Largest Study of Diet and Health Ever Conducted
The study tracked deaths among the subjects through 2006. It turned out that participants who practiced none of the 4 healthy behaviors were four times more likely to have died than the participants who maintained healthier habits. While these behaviors are individually known to improve health, this is the first time researchers combined, quantified, and applied to actual longevity of life.
“This study suggests that adherence to 4 modifiable healthy lifestyle factors can substantially reduce premature mortality in women and men.”
“We know that each of these individual behaviors will have positive effects on overall health, but by combining all four of them, the positive outcomes are multiplied,” explains eDiets Director of Nutrition Services Pam Ofstein. “There are still many behaviors and factors that need to be researched further, but this longevity study does shed some light on the importance of combining a healthy lifestyle with whole natural foods and exercise.”