Eating more healthily, stopping smoking, getting more exercise and drinking alcohol moderately can help you live longer. Tell us something we don’t know, you say. However, just what exactly does this mean to you and I and do we really practise what we preach?
What are healthy and acceptable levels of exercise, fruit and vegetable intake and alcohol consumption? Between 1993 and 1997, a study was undertaken in Norfolk, UK, which forms part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). The purpose of the study was to find if the combined impact of several small differences in lifestyle could be substantially beneficial to the population’s health.
20,000 people between the ages of 45-79, with no contributory medical conditions, completed a health and lifestyle questionnaire, underwent a medical and had their Vitamin C levels measured. The acceptable levels of exercise, alcohol consumption etc were:
•talcohol intake of 1-14 units per week – a unit of alcohol being half a pint of beer, a glass of wine or a 25ml shot of spirit.
•tnot physically inactive (defined as having a sedentary job and doing no recreation exercise)
•tconsumed at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day (a serve of fruit being the equivalent of 1 small apple and a serve of vegetables being 1 medium potato)
A point was scored for each healthy activity achieved and the findings showed that a combination of the 4 healthy behaviours predicts a 4 fold difference in life expectancy in middle aged and older people. It follows that by adopting a simple, and easily achievable for most, healthier lifestyle, we can not only increase our life expectancy but feel fitter and healthier for it. More information on the study can be found on the Public Library of Science (PLOS)journals website.