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Healthy habits may help delay the coming of chronic diseases

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Healthy habits are of huge importance for people and can serve as strong protection against potential diseases.

They can do more.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal has found that healthy habits may offer people extra years free of chronic disease including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and type 2 diabetes.

Researchers examined two previous studies to explore how a healthy lifestyle is related to life expectancies that are free from major chronic diseases. The studies included a total of participants of 73,196 women and 38,366 men respectively.

They defined five low-risk lifestyle factors, which includes:

  1. never smoking;
  2. body mass index 18.5-24.9;
  3. moderate to vigorous physical activity (≥30 minutes/day);
  4. moderate alcohol intake (women: 5-15 g/day; men 5-30 g/day);
  5. a higher diet quality score (upper 40%)

Some low-risk lifestyle factors above are easily understood, while some may need more illustrations.

Physical activities shall be of moderate to vigorous intensity, and they include brisk walking, bicycling, jogging, aerobic dance, bicycling uphill, etc.

Furthermore, the quality of diet in the study was assessed by using the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) score. In this guideline, a high-quality diet shall contain enough fruits, vegetables, nuts and soy protein, cereal fiber, polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids while less alcohol and red meat.

The study results showed that healthy habits help both women and man prolong their life expectancies free of chronic diseases.

At age 50, women who adopted no low-risk lifestyle factors had 23.7 years free of chronic diseases, while this figure for women insisting four of five low-risk factors was 34.4 years, about 10 years more without chronic diseases.

Healthy habits also showed positive effects among males. At age 50, males who adopted four or five low-risk lifestyle factors had 31.1 years free of chronic diseases.

Specifically, current male smokers who smoked heavily or obese men and women were found to have the worst disease-free life expectancies.

The study can serve as a good inspiration, motivating us to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.

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