Harvard scientists say these are the 5 things you must do to live longer

Thanks to an assortment of contributors, America has a fairly short life expectancy compared to other first world countries. A lack of clinical resources or inferior healthcare industry isn’t the problem, but poor lifestyle habits.

In a follow-up study released just this Wednesday by a team of researchers from The Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, five critical faculties were found to significantly boost life longevity and decrease one’s risk for developing illnesses associated with aging.

“Previous studies have found that following a healthy lifestyle improves overall life expectancy and reduces risk of chronic diseases … but few studies have looked at the effects of lifestyle factors on life expectancy free from such diseases,”  the study’s first author Yanping Li, a senior research scientist in the Chan School’s Department of Nutrition, said in a press statement from released by T.H. Chan School of Public Health.  The new study “provides strong evidence that following a healthy lifestyle can substantially extend the years a person lives disease-free.”

The 5 predictors

Over the last 30 years or so heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and various cerebrovascular illnesses have begun to increasingly surge premature mortality rates in the west. Back in 2018, the journal Circulation submitted a thorough report on the lifestyle factors that are consequenced by the aforementioned chronic conditions, concluding that a healthy lifestyle, above all else, can significantly prolong life expectancy in US adults.

Just like the analysis that preceded it, the new report’s research was energized by 34 years worth of data derived from the 73,196 women and 28 years worth of data from the 38,366 men that were recruited in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Study conducted between 1980 and 2014 and 1986 and 2014, respectively.

Broadly, the authors motion that not smoking, exercising regularly (half an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day), maintaining a healthy body mass index (18.5-24.9),  higher diet quality score (upper 40%). and consuming alcohol in moderation (one serving a day for women and two servings a day for men) will considerably reduce instances of morbidity and mortality in middle age. What motivates you to take control of these factors varies from person to person.

“Given the high cost of chronic disease treatment, public policies to promote a healthy lifestyle by improving food and physical environments would help to reduce health care costs and improve quality of life,” said senior author Professor Frank Hu, chairman of the Department of Nutrition to The Boston Globe. 

More discreetly, women that observed four out of the five habits indexed above enjoyed nearly 35 more years free of diseases compared to women that observed none of the same habits, and men lived more than 30 years more free of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer, compared to their counterparts. Collectively, women that had five of these habits lived about 14 years longer than those that did not, and men lived just about 12 years longer compared to men that had none.  These standards were observable even in individuals that adopted these conditions at the age of 50.

Healthy habits vary greatly across the U.S. According to a 2020 report,  San Francisco, California is the healthiest U.S. city. Detroit, Michigan is the unhealthiest major city in the country.

When it comes to health in the workplace, the healthcare industry is surprising not in the running. Instead, brands from the food and beverage industry as well as the consumer goods industry top the list.

In 2019, Johnson & Johnson-owned Band-Aid topped the list of healthiest, followed by Procter & Gamble’s Dawn, Hershey’s, Mars Inc.-owned M&M’s, and Netflix. For those looking to join healthier companies, Johnson & Johnson is currently hiring for product managers, Procter & Gamble is searching for a network engineer, and Netflix is hiring a senior IT security engineer.

“In summary, the HEI-2005 was inversely associated with the risk of major chronic disease, including CHD, stroke, diabetes, and total cancer. Thus, greater adherence to the 2005 Guidelines may reduce risk of major chronic disease. The AHEI-2010, which explicitly emphasizes high intakes of whole grains, PUFA, nuts, and fish and reductions in red and processed meats, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages, was also associated with lower risk of chronic diseases. The authors explained in the paper. “Adherence to dietary guidelines that include such modifications could potentially reduce risk of chronic disease even further, especially CHD and diabetes.”