5 healthy habits that could add a decade to your life

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"But the surprising thing was how huge the effect was", said Meir Stampfer, a co-author on the study and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

The average life expectancy for Americans is 79 years - lower when compared to residents of nearly all other high-income countries. These data were combined with National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data, as well as mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to estimate the impact of lifestyle factors on life expectancy in the USA population.

The U.S. ranked 31st in the world for life expectancy in 2015, and the study suggests while the United States health system does a great job in terms of drug discovery and disease management, a greater emphasis on prevention would do a great deal to improve the health and life expectancy of Americans. These five simple lifestyle changes revolve around common-sense factors and include kicking the smoking habit, sticking to a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, committing to regular exercise, and drinking only in moderation. The population-attributable risk for non-adherence to five low-risk factors was 60.7, 51.7, and 71.7 percent, respectively, for all-cause, cancer, and cardiovascular mortality.

"Quantifying the association between healthy lifestyle factors and longer life expectancy is important not only for individual behavioral changes but also for health communicators and policy makers", said study author Frank B. Hu, M.D., Ph.D., who chairs the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

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Background-Americans have a shorter life expectancy compared with residents of nearly all other high-income countries. Exercise was set at 30 minutes or more moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.

In addition, a diet was considered healthy if it managed to score in the top 40 percent of the Healthy Eating Index, which assesses people's diet based on the consumption of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, fish, poultry, and healthy-fat sources, such as olive oil and nuts. The study participants filled out detailed questionnaires about their health and lifestyle habits every two to four years, Time reports.

A new study has found that just by developing five habits, you can add an estimated 14 years of life expectancy.

Each factor alone reduces the risk for cancer and heart disease but collectively could reduce the overall risk of death by 74-percent.

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