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The Surprising Secret to Good Health that Can Add Years to Your Life

What’s the secret to living a long healthy life? Some say that its good genes while others think that it’s the lifestyle choices that matter the most  – I say it’s a little bit of both. Obviously, we can’t choose our genes or our parents but we can add 12 to 14 years to our lives by simply making a few healthy lifestyle choices, according to a new study by Circulation.

Research found that participants over the age of 50 who followed good lifestyle and dietary habits lived for much longer than their unhealthy counterparts

Secret to Longevity

The review looked at two epidemiological studies conducted on 120,000 male and female participants, who were followed by health professionals for 34 years. In the end, the research found that participants over the age of 50 who followed good lifestyle and dietary habits – i.e. never smoked, engaged in daily physical activity , drank alcohol responsibly, followed a good diet and maintained a healthy BMI – lived for much longer than their unhealthy counterparts.

The study concluded that having a healthy lifestyle can come with significant rewards. For example, healthy women over the age of 50 were expected to live till 93 whereas in men, healthy lifestyle habits can increase their lifespan from 76 to 88 year. In comparison, women who smoked, indulged in alcohol and followed an unhealthy diet were likely to die at the age of 79.

But it wasn’t just the lifestyle choices that affected the participants’ longevity. The researchers found that the place where they were born also played a role in how long they lived. According to an interesting study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people born in regions of the Caribbean and Africa eat a healthier, more nutritious diet rich in seafood (for omega-3 fatty acids), fruits and vegetables (for more fiber), than those born and raised in the United States.

Factors Affecting Obesity in U.S.

Statistics show that the U.S. the biggest spender on healthcare in the world, but how come so many people in the country are suffering from life-threating health conditions? According to the researchers’ observation, it all boils down to what they eat on a daily basis. Type 2 obesity and heart diseases, which are the biggest killers in the country, are associated with a high-fat, high-sugar diet that most Americans follow.

The study conducted a few experiments which showed that making healthy lifestyle choices isn’t as hard is people think. In the first experiment, researchers gave women different sizes of quiche for lunch, the next day, the same participants were told that they could have any portion of quiche they desired. Women who had been served smaller portion the previous day stuck to smaller-sized quiche. Another experiment with male participants also gave the same result.

In a different experiment, researchers showed different photos of various portion sizes to male and female diners and asked them which portion sized looked normal to them. Those participants who had previously opted for a smaller sized quiche said that the smaller portions looked normal whereas those who ate bigger portions said the opposite.

Quality Over Quantity

The experiments show that it’s possible to change people’s perception on normal portions which eventually has an effect on their BMI and likelihood of developing obesity-related diseases later on in life. But the problem with the restaurant and fast food business in the United States is the amount of portions they serve which has shifted the Americans’ perception towards larger portion sizes.

But it’s not just about the quantity, but also about the quality. For example, you can start your day with a small bowl of sugary cereal that may be well within your calorie limit but still isn’t best breakfast option due to its high sugar content.

The problem with overloading on carbs early in the morning is the blood sugar spike which triggers insulin production increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes in the future. Sugary cereals also lack fiber which is why they don’t keep you full for long.

The simple philosophy for living a long, healthy life is eating smaller portion, incorporating more fresh produce into your diet and staying physically active.

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