Photo above: The vibrant lady on the left is Dr. Zach’s mom Eleanor, showing everyone how living healthier and longer is done
Dr. Zach’s Magnificent Seven ways to live longer and healthier
by Dr. Zach 2019
(no secrets, and nothing you don’t already know).
But maybe you don’t know the top ones. Studies show that up to 75% of our longevity (not to mention quality of life) is determined by things we can control.
-Eat well (and control your glucose)
-Control your weight
-Drink in moderation (if you drink)
-Build a strong social network
-Get a regular doctor and be screened
Top out of these: Don’t smoke, be active, build a strong social network.
People also ask me why I don’t write a book with such secrets, or write a diet book, and make a mint.
Alas, the answer to why I don’t write many lists that satisfy magazine editors or books with the secrets to weight loss and health is that a) there’s just no magic bullet, and most of us already know the answers, b) the book would be really short — to lose weight expend more calories than you take in, and to live healthily do all of the things you know you should do but you don’t. By the way, I don’t either, but I try to on the balance do more of the good than the bad.
We all want to live a long time, and we want to be able to enjoy a good quality of life into our later years. There are some things (our genes, for example) that we cannot control. However, studies show that up to 75% of our longevity is determined by things we can control. There are 7 proven ways to improve your lifespan and enjoy better health and function into your later years. While unfortunately there is no magic bullet, or superfood that will improve your health and longevity with no effort on your part (see https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/06/are-superfoods-quinoa-chia-goji-good-for-you/) , with some effort and attention all of us have room to improve on these factors and improve our chances at a long and healthy life.
So, with no further ado, I present to you:
Dr. Zach’s Maginificent 7 Ways to Live Longer and Healther:
Longtime smokers can expect to lose about 10 years of life expectancy. However, those who quit before they turn 35 can gain most if not all of that decade back, and even those who wait until middle age to kick the habit can add about five years back to their life expectancies. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/putting-a-number-to-smokings-toll/
One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed Improving diet by just 20% was linked to a 8-17% lower risk of premature death. Improved diet quality over 12 years was consistently associated with a decreased risk of death — https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1613502.
People with severe obesity have decreased life expectancy ranging from 6 to 14 years shorter than those of healthy weight — https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-study-finds-extreme-obesity-may-shorten-life-expectancy-14-years
Staying mentally and socially active (see #7) is as important as physical activity. It has been shown to improve mental health and delay the onset and progression of dementia.
Regular physical activity is associated with an increase of life expectancy by 0.4 to 6.9 years — https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3395188/, https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/press-releases/2012/PhysicalActivityLifeExpectancy.
A healthy social life can be as beneficial to your health as not smoking. And a study showed that those with poor social connections had on average 50% higher odds of death in the study’s follow-up period (an average of 7.5 years) than people with more robust social ties.
Screening saves lives — for cancers, blood pressure, and many other conditions.
Controlling your blood pressure can add 5 years to your life expectancy — https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/787720.
Patients who see the same doctor regularly have a lower risk of death than others — https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/6/e021161
These are 7 ways to live longer, healthier lives. There is no magic here; all take a bit of effort, and all are worth it.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28724530 — Study showing that compared to the whole US population, those with such a favorable behavioral profile had a life expectancy at age fifty that was seven years longer, and they experienced a delay in the onset of disability of up to six years.
Quality of life is important, and so we have to try to find ways that living healthy can be pleasant and enjoyable. For example, being active with friends doing activities we enjoy, and finding healthy foods we like. And we are human, which means we won’t be perfect, and we can’t beat ourselves up for indulging in something pleasurable that isn’t good for us. So try to find ways to make a healthy lifestyle enjoyable, and try to tip the balance toward doing more healthy things than unhealthy ones. THOSE are the secret keys to health and longevity.