Contributed by Dr. Damian Rodriguez, DHSc, MS
The Nurses’ Health Study and the subsequent Health Professionals Follow-Up Study have provided data that health scientists have spent the last three decades analyzing to progress our understanding of the influence of lifestyle habits on long-term health and well-being. In examining why the United States has among the shortest average lifespans of high-income countries, a group of researchers used the existing data to conduct the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of adopting low-risk lifestyle factors on life expectancy.
In their analysis, published in the April 2018 edition of Circulation, the researchers tracked 123,000 U.S. men and women over 34 years on their adherence to five specific “low-risk lifestyle factors”:
- abstinence from smoking
- moderate alcohol intake
- maintaining a healthy body weight
- at least 30 minutes of daily vigorous physical activity
- a healthy diet (one that meets basic USDA guidelines for fruit, vegetable, and whole grain consumption and is limited in highly processed food)
After collecting the data, it was cross-referenced with other data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2013-2014) to determine lifestyle score, estimate hazard ratios, and develop age specific mortality rates to ascertain how influential those healthy lifestyle habits were in determining the length of an individual’s life. For those who met all five lifestyle factors, life expectancy was 93 for women and 88 for men. This was, on average, 13 years longer than their peers who did not meet the healthy lifestyle criteria. Compared to those who adhered to none of the identified healthy lifestyle habits, those who followed all five were 74 percent less likely to die during the study period, and there was a clear dose-response relationship between each lifestyle factor and early mortality risk. Furthermore, risk for early onset of every measured chronic health condition was greatly associated with adherence to the low-risk lifestyle factors.
While none of these findings should come as a surprise, this study is the first to offer a comprehensive analysis of how following basic healthy lifestyle behaviors can directly increase quality and length of life. Medical advancements have led to progressively decreased risk for communicable disease, and modern research has continued to provide evidence of the benefits of a lifestyle designed around the components of the doTERRA Wellness Lifestyle Pyramid
, yet adherence to these behaviors remains low. The fountain of youth is not some mythical spring, but the simple daily practice of eating whole, unprocessed foods (complemented by the right nutritional supplements
), getting regular physical activity, and minimizing unhealthy behaviors.
doTERRA Science blog articles are based on a variety of scientific sources. Many of the referenced studies are preliminary and further research is needed to gain greater understanding of the findings. Some articles offer multiple views on general health topics and are not the official position of doTERRA. Consult your healthcare provider before making changes to diet or exercise.