“The idea is to die young as late as possible.”
― Ashley Montagu
What’s your primary motivator for making lifestyle changes and creating healthier habits? Is it to look better, feel better or to extend your life?
I remember when I first started thinking about healthy…well, really about things I could do to become a better athlete: faster, springier…just better!
Some were good ideas like eating lighter, others were questionable like carb-loading and others maybe carried some harmful effects like drinking lots of coffee!
Later, I discovered that I could control my weight by not eating! Not a very sustainable habit! It wasn’t until I became a mother that I really started to connect my habits with the way I felt and looked.
Many of us start examining our habits because we want to look better and we soon discover that we also feel better when we make some changes. The more we investigate healthy habits, the more we learn that these habits not only make us look and feel better but they can also improve health markers like blood pressure, glucose levels and all sorts of indicators that we are, indeed, markers of how healthy we are!
I love the quote by Ashley Montagu that I started this post with: “The idea is to die young, as late as possible”. Montagu was referencing a mindset of childlike curiosity, wonder and joy but I like to extrapolate it to include a mindset of continuing to adopt healthy habits as we age. A twist I’ve adopted from this quote is: “I’d like to die as young as possible, as late as possible”.
No one wants to be infirm as they age! We all want to feel great, look great AND live as long as possible in that state, right?
Turns out there are just 4 things that will reliably predict an increase in longevity past the 75.5-year average for men and the 79-year average for women.
4 things that can predict 80% less risk of chronic illness: 93% risk of diabetes, heart attack risk is slashed by 81%, stroke risk by 50% and cancer by 36%!
Five different studies have shown the same results!
What are these magic behaviors? Pretty simple, actually!
- Not smoking
- Not being obese
- Exercising for at least 30 minutes daily
- A high-quality diet (limited processed foods and meats, high in fruits, vegetables and grains)
A couple of studies add a 5th behavior and explores other things we might want to consider to improve quality of life even more!
Here is the complete abstract from one of them:
Larrick JW, Mendelsohn AR. Finally, a Regimen to Extend Human Life Expectancy. Rejuvenation Res. 2018 Jun;21(3):278-282. doi: 10.1089/rej.2018.2088. PMID: 29781380.
“The United States has the most expensive healthcare system worldwide. Yet measures of health span and life expectancy are well below the major industrialized nations. With the U.S. population aged 65 years and older projected to double by mid-century, a healthcare crisis is looming. Within this context, huge interest and investment have emerged in technologies and drugs to address aging with an expected benefit to health span. The thesis being that such basic interventions will reduce morbidity caused by many chronic diseases wherein biological age itself is the major risk factor. In the light of limited progress to date, a recent study out of the Harvard School of Public Health is quite refreshing: less than half dozen lifestyle interventions can greatly increase health span. Perhaps these are familiar: cessation of smoking, ≥30 minutes of moderate daily exercise, high-quality diet (limited processed food), modest alcohol intake, and maintenance of an optimal body mass index of 18.5–24.9 kg/m2. From age 50 years, women engaging in all of these behaviors versus those who do zero can expect to have a life expectancy of 43.1 additional years (an extra 14 years) with men gaining 37.6 years (an extra 12.2 years). A regimen to extend life expectancy is at hand. However, there is room for optimization by including the effects of sleep, intermittent fasting, and/or caloric restriction. Moreover, the extension of life expectancy by adherence to a healthy lifestyle revises the health span threshold for anti-aging treatments under development and should provide a better set of controls for clinical trials investigating novel treatments of aging.”
Wow! What a great study and relief to many of us who tend to over-complicate what it truly takes to be healthy.
Take another look at the list and see where you need support or change.
Did you know that Jake and I offer a program and tools that will support you in all 4-5 behaviors? Yup…it’s true. It all starts with getting more plants into your diet with our plant concentrates and superfood smoothies. We then invite you into our private Facebook group for free workouts, recipes and community to help you develop new behaviors.
Lastly, make sure to check out our plant-based, hilarious and educational cooking show: Cook with Jake & Joy.
Extending our life and adding life to our years is easier than you thought!