Healthy Lifestyle Decreases Risk of Chronic Diseases

A latest study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, has found that a healthy lifestyle with a BMI of less than 25, abstinence from smoking, being physically active and limiting alcohol intake, is linked to a disease-free life.

Archana Singh-Manoux, honorary professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Institute of Epidemiology and Health at University College London, and her colleagues conducted this study to figure out the various blend of lifestyle factors linked with years lived without chronic disease.

It was a prospective multi-cohort study that included 116,043 people free of major non-communicable diseases at baseline, and were followed from 1991 to 2006. Analysis of data was done between 2018 to 2020. It included 12 European studies as part of the Individual-Participant-Data Meta-analysis in Working Populations Consortium. The age ranged from 40 to 75 without chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

All the four risk factors (BMI, non-smoking, physical activity and alcohol intake) were given an individual score, with optimal (2 points), intermediate (1 point), poor (0 points) leading to total lifestyle score, with 0 labeled as worst and 8 best.

The mean age was 43 years of 116,043 people with 70,911 women. The results revealed that 17,383 patients developed one lethal disease over some time. There was a linear association between a healthy lifestyle score and the number of disease-free years.

The results revealed that an increase in 1 point in score was linked with an increase of 0.96 disease-free year in men and 0.89 years in women. When a comparison of best lifestyle scores was done against the worst lifestyle, it was linked with 9.9 additional years without chronic disease in men and 9.4 years in women. All four lifestyle factors were linked with an increasing number of disease-free years. Results revealed that people with at least one lifestyle factor reached the age of 71 to 73 without disease, depending on personal profile and gender.

Source: Harvard Medical School

Five key factors play a major role in our health system. The major key factor is a healthy diet, which means intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids while avoiding unhealthy foods like red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium. Another key factor is physical activity which plays a major role in maintaining health. WHO has given its recommendations for exercise for older adults of age 65 and above. These recommendations include:

At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity should be adopted per week. The aerobic activity that is performed should be at least 10 minutes duration. It will help in the maintenance of healthy BMI and weight of the body.

Abstinence from smoking and moderate alcohol consumption which was measured as between 5 and 15 grams per day for women, and 5 to 30 grams per day for men, are recommended for a healthy lifestyle.

Source: British Nutrition Foundation

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