Boosting Longevity: How 8 Lifestyle Factors Shape Life Expectancy in U.S. Veterans

by | Feb 8, 2024 | News

Ever wondered about the secret to a longer, healthier life? It turns out that embracing a healthy lifestyle can significantly influence mortality rates and overall life expectancy. Research consistently emphasizes the profound impact of healthy habits on mortality rates. The choices we make daily, from maintaining a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity to managing stress and avoiding harmful habits, play a pivotal role in shaping our well-being. Numerous studies, including the Million Veteran Program, highlight the profound impact of these lifestyle factors on mortality among individuals.

In addition to the well-known factors like healthy eating, exercise, and avoiding smoking, recent research emphasizes the significance of stress management, steering clear of harmful substances, and fostering social connections in preventing chronic diseases. Insufficient restful sleep and depression have shown links to a higher risk of various chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, diabetes, and overall mortality. Furthermore, recent meta-analyses have explored the impact of loneliness and social isolation on established mortality risk factors. Prioritizing these aspects of lifestyle may hold the key to a healthier and longer life.

Lifestyle medicine relies on proven lifestyle changes, including embracing a plant-focused diet, regular exercise, quality sleep, stress management, avoiding harmful substances, and fostering positive social connections. This approach is a low-risk strategy for treating and potentially reversing chronic diseases by addressing their root causes instead of merely alleviating symptoms. By doing so, lifestyle medicine offers a promising solution to curb escalating healthcare expenses linked to prescription medications and surgeries.

While studies have linked individual low-risk lifestyle factors to reduced risks of chronic diseases and mortality, no research, to our knowledge, has examined the combined impact on life expectancy. This type of study necessitates gathering comprehensive information on various lifestyle factors over an adequate follow-up period to observe instances of mortality.

The Million Veteran Program (MVP) by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a distinctive chance to assess how a combination of suggested modifiable low-risk lifestyle factors influences the risk of mortality and life expectancy in U.S. veterans. The hypothesis suggests that both individual and combined low-risk lifestyle factors are linked to a reduced risk of total mortality.

Moreover, it aims to convert this reduced risk of mortality into an estimate of the added life expectancy resulting from embracing a comprehensive set of lifestyle features.

The notion of preventive lifestyle medicine introduces six clusters of low-risk lifestyle factors: nutrition, physical activity, stress management, restorative sleep, avoidance of risky substances, and social connections. Within MVP, detailed information is available on three risky substances—smoking, opioid use, and alcohol use—allowing us to assess the avoidance of each risky substance as an independent low-risk lifestyle factor in this study. In total, we considered eight low-risk lifestyle factors:

  1. adhering to a whole food,
  2. plant-predominant eating pattern, 
  3. having regular consistent physical activity, 
  4. managing negative stress, 
  5. not smoking, 
  6. having restorative sleep, 
  7. no excessive alcohol consumption, no opioid use disorder, and 
  8. having positive social connections. 

To sum up, the results obtained from this study involving MVP participants indicate that each of the low-risk lifestyle factors is linked to a reduced risk of early mortality. Furthermore, the amalgamation of these low-risk lifestyle factors displays a consistent and incremental impact.

Adhering to all eight low-risk lifestyle factors is connected with a projected life expectancy extension of over 20 years for individuals at the age of 40. This progressive estimate of extended lifestyle expectancy, correlating with intensified low-risk lifestyle modifications, lends scientific backing to advocate lifestyle medicine as a proactive approach for individuals to directly shape their health.

Adhering to all eight low-risk lifestyle factors is connected with a projected life expectancy extension of over 20 years for individuals at the age of 40. This progressive estimate of extended lifestyle expectancy, correlating with intensified low-risk lifestyle modifications, lends scientific backing to advocate lifestyle medicine as a proactive approach for individuals to directly shape their health.

The choices we make today ripple into our future, influencing the quality and duration of our lives. A commitment to a healthy lifestyle is a powerful investment in our longevity, offering the promise of a fulfilling and vibrant existence for years to come.

Sources:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000291652366280X?via=ihub&fbclid=IwAR3O5QXehFDOgd_UsWC1oBSP6jUbKBa1P4OiHXsTkoLd7AkfJFODEpwH2-E

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Want the latest articles, videos, special offers, and more?

Subscribe to stay up-to-date on the latest news, research, tips & tricks that I provide for my autoimmune family! BONUS - FREE Autoimmune Survival Guide when you subscribe!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This