According to new British research, incorporating four simple changes into your lifestyle can earn you up to 14 bonus years on planet Earth.
The article documented in the journal PLoS Medicine gives that by not smoking, having some physical activity everyday, consuming moderate, if any, quantities of alcohol , and by eating five servings of fruit or vegetables a day , a person should live an average of 14 years longer than people who don't do any of the above.
University of Cambridge and Medical Research Council researchers viewed 20,000 men and women, aged 45-79, who answered queries on these four health behaviors. The participants (none of whom had cancer or heart or any circulatory disease) filled out the questionnaire between 1993 and 1997. They were then followed until 2006.
Each of the four healthy lifestyle behaviors was awarded a point each. After accounting for age, the researchers deduced that participants with zero points were four times more likely to have died over an average period of 11 years as against those with four points.
This is not all, the study authors concluded that participants with a score of zero had the same risk of dying as someone 14 years older with a score of four. It was seen that body-mass index (BMI) and social class had nothing to do with this.
While the researchers concede that these findings need to be confirmed in other populations and an examination of how these combined health behaviors affect quality of life is required, the results suggest that these four healthy lifestyle behaviors can significantly improve the health of middle-aged and older people, they stress.
This study was conducted as part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). It was carried out in 10 European countries. EPIC is by far the largest study of diet and health.
Though strong evidence that individual lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and physical activity influence health and longevity exist, there has been little research into their combined impact.