We all have a sense of what’s good – and not so good – for our health, but now there’s research that gives us a solid idea of exactly how much these things affect us.
The study I’m referring to was done in the United Kingdom over the course of 20 years. Researchers tracked 4,886 adults, paying particular attention to four specific habits known to affect health. They scored people by how many of these 4 habits they had. The more habits, the higher the score.
Over the 20 years of the study, there was a direct relationship to how high someone’s score was and the likelihood of them dying. In fact, 29 percent of those who had all four health damaging habits died, compared to just 8 percent of those with none of them. That means people with all four habits had a 362% greater chance of dying than those with none. Stated differently, the people who avoided these 4 health crushing habits reduced their odds of dying by 72%.
You probably won’t be too surprised by the list, but what may surprise you is how relaxed the criteria were for determining who did or didn’t have them. That means practically everyone can gain the benefits of a longer, healthier life without going to extremes.
Here are the four killer habits tracked in this survey:
No surprise here. We’ve long known that smoking tobacco has multiple negative health implications. Among the most damaging are heart disease, stroke, emphysema, cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
And there is a long list of additional smoking-related problems that lead to signs of aging – wrinkles, adrenal fatigue, osteoporosis, immune weakness, and even type 2 diabetes.
In the study, excess drinking was defined as more than two drinks a day for women and more than three a day for men. In my opinion these are amazingly lax standards, so the fact that this contributed to longer life is surprising.
The reason I say the standards are more lax is that the list of negative alcohol-related symptoms is rather long. It includes poor circulation, risk of strokes, cancer, diabetes, and liver disease.
In fairness, many studies show that it is only excess drinking that leads to these problems. My recommendation is to track your body’s response to drinking. If you experience hangover symptoms after drinking – even if it’s less than 2 drinks – then your body is telling you that the amount of alcohol you had was toxic to you. For some people as little as one sip of beer can cause these symptoms.
Lack of Exercise:
Again, not at all surprising. The criteria for the study was less than two hours of exercise a week.
If you break that down, that’s less than 20 minutes a day of exercise.
Known health benefits of exercise include improved heart and brain health, reduced risk of numerous cancers, reduction of type 2 diabetes, increased bone, muscle and organ strength, better sleep and weight control.
The study defined poor diet as eating fruits or vegetables less than three times a day. In other words, if someone had a piece of celery, a glass of orange juice and an apple in a day, they were considered to be in the ‘healthy’ group.
Those of you who pay attention to your body’s response to foods will recognize that some people will do much better with more fruits and vegetables than this study required.
I found this study to be quite encouraging. It demonstrates that even making modest changes can greatly increase health.
And, if you are ready to take your health to a much higher level, then imagine what is possible when you fine-tune your exercise and diet to match your body’s exact needs. We can do that with Metabolic Typing® and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition. Contact me for more information about these options.