A new study presented at NUTRITION 2023 in Boston has identified eight lifestyle habits that may contribute to a longer life. These habits include never smoking, being physically active, refraining from binge drinking, practicing good sleep hygiene, eating a healthy diet, keeping stress low, engaging in positive social relationships, and avoiding addiction to opioids. The study suggests that adopting these habits by middle age could add decades to a person's lifespan.
The researchers analyzed data from over 719,000 United States military veterans who participated in the Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program. They found that not being active, using opioids, and smoking had the largest negative impact on lifespan, with a 30% to 45% greater risk for death. Poor sleep hygiene, unhealthy diet, binge drinking, and stress each created about a 20% increase in risk. Lack of positive social relationships was associated with a 5% increase in risk.
However, when individuals combined all eight healthy habits, there was a 13% reduction in all-cause mortality. The researchers noted that while the effect became smaller as individuals grew older, it was still statistically significant.
The study's lead author, Xuan-Mai T. Nguyen, stated that adopting a healthy lifestyle is important at any age. However, he noted that this type of study cannot prove that adopting these habits will increase lifespan, although they are consistent with similar studies.
According to Tariq Hafiz, a medical director and cardiologist, adopting these lifestyle factors is crucial for preventing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia. Hafiz explained that the benefits are likely achieved by preventing oxidative stress and inflammation.
Trinna Cuellar, the VP of Biology and Head of R&D at Tally's Health, emphasized the importance of consistency and personalization in making sustainable lifestyle changes. She suggested that individuals adopt habits that suit their lifestyle and use tools such as wearables, phone apps, and community support to stay on track.
In conclusion, this study adds to the growing body of evidence that adopting healthy lifestyle habits can contribute to a longer life. While each habit alone can have a positive impact on lifespan, combining them multiplies the effect. It is never too late to make changes and improve one's overall health and well-being.