Americans have a shorter life expectancy than almost all other high-income countries. But a study from Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which took 30 years to complete, reveals that five critical habits can increase your lifespan by a decade.
"This study underscores the importance of following lifestyle habits for improving longevity in the U.S. Population," said Frank Hu, author of the study,and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School, according to Ladders.
Here are five science-backed ways to help you live longer and healthier:
- Eat your fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables have important vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals as well as fiber to help regulate your metabolism, according to the Better Health Channel. They can also protect against certain diseases. Experts recommend eating at least five servings daily.
- Exercise. People who live in Blue Zones, the longest living people in the world, typically do not go to the gym but work out daily by gardening, raising farm animals, walking, and doing other chores. According to Dr. Rob Silverman, author of "Inside-Out Health: A Revolutionary Approach to Your Body," aerobic fitness is one of the most important predictors of longevity. "Study after study shows that the fitter you are, the longer you are likely to live," he tells Newsmax.
- Drink alcohol in moderation. There is mixed evidence about whether moderate alcohol consumption affects longevity, but consuming one to two glasses of red wine daily is common in many of the Blue Zone countries. Studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption can lower blood pressure and blood sugar and increase HDL, or the "good" cholesterol.
- Maintain a healthy weight. According to the Harvard study, controlling your weight lowers your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and many forms of cancer — including prostate cancer. According to Science Magazine, Canadian researchers found the men who ate a healthy diet reduced their risk of prostate cancer. On the other hand, there was strong evidence that men who ate a diet loaded with sugary sweets and carbohydrates not only had a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, but the diet seemed to trigger more aggressive forms of the disease.
- Avoid smoking. The Harvard study specifically noted that people who smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes lived longer.
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