More than ever before people are looking to live healthier lives for longer. So, it’s always great to share new research that can help us achieve this aim.
A large observational study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on 8th January has shown that following a healthy lifestyle in middle age is associated with a longer life expectancy free from three major chronic diseases; type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes) and cancer.
The study asked 73,196 women and 38,366 men age 50 how they scored on 5 lifestyle criteria:
- never smoked
- body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9
- moderate to vigorous physical activity (≥30 minutes/day),
- moderate alcohol intake (small glass wine for women or pint of beer for men)
- healthy balanced diet including fruit, vegetables and whole grains
Women who met at least four out of the five lifestyle criteria lived an astonishing 10.7 additional years free from diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer compared to women who adopted zero lifestyle factors. Equivalent results in men showed 7.6 additional years of life free from these chronic diseases. A healthy lifestyle not only decreased the risk of these three major diseases but also improved survival after diagnosis.
The importance of eating a healthy balanced diet is one of the main take away messages from this study. Scientists are now recommending that a healthy diet should include anthocyanins which are naturally occurring plant pigments that give fruit and vegetables their deep purple, blue and red colours. There is growing evidence that anthocyanins play a major role in reducing the risk of many chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Healthy lifestyle and life expectancy free of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: prospective cohort study
BMJ 2020; 368 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l6669 (Published 08 January 2020)
Recent research on the health benefits of blueberries and their anthocyanins
Wilhelmina Kalt, Aedin Cassidy, Luke R Howard, Robert Krikorian, April J Stull, Francois Tremblay, Raul Zamora-Ros
Advances in Nutrition, nmz065, https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmz065 (Published: 22 July 2019)