Following Five Healthy Lifestyle Habits May Increase Life Expectancy by Decade or More

Maintaining five healthy habits—eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy body weight, not drinking too much alcohol, and not smoking—during adulthood may add more than a decade to life expectancy, according to a new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Researchers also found that U.S. women and men who maintained the healthiest lifestyles were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer when compared with those with the least healthy lifestyles over the course of the roughly 30-year study period.

The study is the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of adopting low-risk lifestyle factors on life expectancy in the U.S. It was published online April 30, 2018 in Circulation.

Americans have a shorter average life expectancy—79.3 years—than almost all other high-income countries. The U.S. ranked 31st in the world for life expectancy in 2015. The new study aimed to quantify how much healthy lifestyle factors might be able to boost longevity in the U.S.

Harvard Chan researchers and colleagues looked at 34 years of data from 78,865 women and 27 years of data from 44,354 men participating in, respectively, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The researchers looked at how five low-risk lifestyle factors—not smoking, low body mass index (18.5-24.9 kg/m2), at least 30 minutes or more per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, moderate alcohol intake (for example, up to about one 5-ounce glass of wine per day for women, or up to two glasses for men), and a healthy diet—might impact mortality.

For study participants who didn’t adopt any of the low-risk lifestyle factors, the researchers estimated that life expectancy at age 50 was 29 years for women and 25.5 years for men. But for those who adopted all five low-risk factors, life expectancy at age 50 was projected to be 43.1 years for women and 37.6 years for men. In other words, women who maintained all five healthy habits gained, on average, 14 years of life, and men who did so gained 12 years, compared with those who didn’t maintain healthy habits.

Compared with those who didn’t follow any of the healthy lifestyle habits, those who followed all five were 74% less likely to die during the study period. The researchers also found that there was a dose-response relationship between each individual healthy lifestyle behavior and a reduced risk of early death, and that the combination of all five healthy behaviors was linked with the most additional years of life.

“This study underscores the importance of following healthy lifestyle habits for improving longevity in the U.S. population,” said Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study. “However, adherence to healthy lifestyle habits is very low. Therefore, public policies should put more emphasis on creating healthy food, built, and social environments to support and promote healthy diet and lifestyles.”

Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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When Heart Disease Runs in the Family, Exercise May be Best Defense

Exercise may be the best way to keep hearts healthy – and it works even for people with a genetic pre-disposition for heart disease, according to new findings in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation.

Data assessed from roughly a half-million people in the UK Biobank database showed that greater grip strength, more physical activity and better cardiorespiratory fitness are all associated with reduced risk for heart attacks and stroke, even among people with a genetic predisposition for heart disease.

For participants with an intermediate genetic risk for cardiovascular diseases, those with the strongest grips were 36 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease and had a 46 percent reduction in their risk for atrial fibrillation compared to study participants with the same genetic risk who had the weakest grips.

Among individuals deemed at high genetic risk for cardiovascular diseases, high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with a 49 percent lower risk for coronary heart disease and a 60 percent lower risk for atrial fibrillation compared to study participants with low cardiorespiratory fitness.

“The main message of this study is that being physically active is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, even if you have a high genetic risk,” said Erik Ingelsson, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a professor of Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

There are a few caveats: the study is not a prescription for a specific type or amount of exercise and because the results come from an observational study, Ingelsson said, “we can’t definitely claim a causal connection.” Observational studies are designed to establish trends.

Nonetheless, he said the data is robust and these latest results are worthy for consideration in guidelines. For individuals, “it would be best to discuss a physical activity plan with a physician,” Ingelsson said.

Participants in the UK Biobank Study are from England, Scotland and Wales and gave their consent to have their genetic pre-disposition for diseases assessed when the study began. At the start of the study, they had no evidence of heart disease. Data from 482,702 participants, aged 40-69, was included in the published analysis. More than half of the participants were women.

The International Physical Activity Questionnaire was used to assess self-reported exercise, while wrist-worn accelerometers, hand dynamometers (grip strength) and submaximal exercise treadmill were used for objective measures. Additionally, 468,095 individuals had genome-wide genetic data.

The results were adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, region, socioeconomic status, diabetes, smoking, systolic blood pressure, body mass index and use of lipid medications.

Previous research found associations between exercise and heart health, but Ingelsson said that less was known about the cardiovascular effect of exercise in persons with a family history of heart disease. This analysis was designed to answer two questions: is physical activity and fitness associated with lower risk of cardiovascular events and what effect – if any – does genetic predisposition play in that equation.

During follow-up, there were 20,914 reported cardiovascular events, which included heart attacks, strokes, atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

Source: American Heart Association


Today’s Comic

Haagen-Dazs’s First Japanese Sweets Specialty Store

The Pop-up Store will be opened between April 18th and May 6th in Ginza, Japan.

The logo of the store – Haagen-Dazs Tea Room

Eight menu items based on Japanese ingredients such as dorayaki (銅鑼焼き), shiratama zenzai (白玉ぜんざい), sweet soup with sake kasu (酒糟), etc. using six Haagen Dazs ice creams will be offered.

The following pictures show some of the menu items.

Emojis for Fruit, Vegetables, Meals, Beverages and Utensils

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New emojis (mock-up shown) to be released in June, 2018

Source: Emojipedia

Charts of the Day: Glycemic Index


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