How can you increase your life expectancy? The five healthy low-risk lifestyle factors that can add years to your life are: eating a healthy diet, never smoking, regular moderate-to-vigorous exercise, moderate alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy body weight.
Each low-risk factor significantly reduced the risk of dying from all causes, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. But when compared to people who didn’t meet any of the five factors, those who met the criteria for all of them had a 74 percent (!) reduced overall mortality risk.
For women, that translates to an increased life expectancy of about 14 years; for men, it’s 12 years. The recommendations came from researchers who pored over decades of data from the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which collected information from more than 78,000 women and 44,000 men.
What makes these five ways to add years to your life so powerful? Here’s how they extend your life expectancy.
1. Eating a healthy diet
There’s long been a connection between eating a diet free from processed foods and loaded with fruits and veggies and an increased life expectancy; Japanese following the Okinawa diet regularly live up to 100 years. And on the other side of the world, the Mediterranean diet’s focus on plants and healthy fats has helped reduce heart disease, one of the leading causes of death.
That’s because what we put into our bodies directly influences how they perform.
Think of it like a car: if you stopped putting gasoline in it and started giving it vegetable oil instead, would you get your far? No! It’s the same with your body. Eating processed foods that offer little nutritional value lead to inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases. And if you’re not getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function at its best, you’re at a risk for deficiencies, obesity and disease.
As I alluded earlier, though, trying to figure out what to eat can feel confusing or overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! My main advice is to stick to fresh fruits and veggies; healthy proteins like grass-fed beef and organic chicken; high-quality dairy, including yogurt and kefir; good-for-you fats like avocado, coconut oil and olive oil; wild-caught fish; and nuts and seeds like almonds, chia seeds and flaxseeds.
If you need a cheat sheet, my healing foods list will help.