A just-published study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found that there are five lifestyle choices that can increase your lifespan and build your bones.
Read on to learn how thousands of participants in this study lived longer after making five simple changes to their daily lives. We'll also discuss what that means for you and your bones.
The Five Ways To Live Longer
People living in the United States have a relatively short lifespan, compared with other first-world nations. On average, Americans live 79.3 years. The Harvard study, published in the journal Circulation sought to identify lifestyle habits that increase lifespan. Researchers examined a large pool of participants over a significant period: 78,865 women over 34 years and 44,354 men over 27 years.
Here are their main findings1:
- Participants who applied all of the five lifestyle habits were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than those who didn’t.
- They were 65% less likely to die from cancer than those with the least healthy behaviors
- Women who maintained all five healthy habits gained 14 years of life over those who didn’t
- Men who followed the five healthy habits gained 12 years compared with those who didn’t maintain healthy habits.
- Those who followed the five guidelines were 74% less likely to die during the study period
The habits that lead to life extension were simple, in fact, you’ve probably read about all of them here at the Save Institute:
- Don’t smoke
- Exercise regularly
- Consume alcohol in moderation
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Eat a healthy diet
Let’s have a look at each guideline, and how it’s good not just for your lifespan, but also for your bones.
Many Americans could increase their lifespan by more than a decade by following five simple lifestyle rules: not smoking, exercising regularly, reducing drinking, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a healthy diet.
Don’t Smoke, Live Longer
It is now common knowledge that cigarette smoking causes a barrage of fatal health problems, from multiple cancers to emphysema, to heart disease. If you smoke, you’re choosing to die younger.
Many people don’t realize that smoking is also bad for your bones. It has long been observed that smokers suffer excessive bone loss and abnormally low bone density. Research from the University of Pennsylvania found the cause.2
Chemicals in cigarette smoke bind to the body’s cellular aryl hydrocarbon receptors, which stimulates the formation of osteoclasts. Osteoclasts are responsible for removing old material from your bones to make way for a newer, stronger mineral matrix. But if osteoclasts are overproduced, they will remove more bone than the osteoblasts can replace. This is what happens to smokers.2
To live longer, don’t smoke. That’s also essential advice for Savers because smoking causes increased osteoclast formation, leading to bone loss and increased fracture risk.
Exercise Regularly For Increased Longevity
To meet this marker of a healthy lifestyle, Harvard study participants had to engage in at least 30 minutes or more per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity. It included running, swimming, weightlifting, yoga – basically anything that gets the body moving and keeps it active for half an hour every day.
This bar for exercise is higher than the standard minimum exercise suggested by other health professionals, though not by much. Getting 150 minutes of exercise a week offers substantial health benefits.3 This study adds an additional hour each week and has linked the effort to longer life.
Exercise is also critical to bone health. Weight-bearing exercise causes your body to build new bone, as postulated by Wolff’s Law. While you don’t need a 30-minute workout every day to jumpstart your body’s bone-building system, that additional time will create robust bone growth.
Get 30 minutes of physical activity a day to extend your life. You’ll also be giving your bones what they need to grow dense and strong.
Drink Only In Moderation
The Osteoporosis Reversal Program is not based on denying yourself of foods or other activities you might enjoy, but rather on the understanding on what they do to your biology, and consuming them accordingly. Alcohol is a great example of this, and the Harvard longevity study confirms that this approach is valid. The study found that those with the longest lifespans didn’t have more than about one drink a day.
That’s great news for enjoying your dinner or a night out, and for your bones. Certain alcoholic beverages contain bone-healthy compounds such as the silicon found in beer that is positively associated with bone mineral density, or the cell-protecting anti-oxidants in red wine.4
You can certainly get those beneficial nutrients from other sources and it's important to remember that all alcoholic beverages are acidifying. However, an acidifying drink can be balanced with alkalizing foods to keep your pH balanced.
Just don’t forget that moderation is key. One drink for women or two for men is the limit for avoiding the deadly long-term effects of alcohol.5
Limiting alcohol consumption helps you to live longer although a beer or a glass of wine contains bone-building compounds.
Maintain A Healthy Body Weight
The participants with a moderate body mass index (BMI) lived the longest. Body mass index is defined as the weight divided by the square of the height. A BMI within a desirable range (18.5 to 25) is a marker of long life because obesity causes deadly ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Being overweight is also detrimental to your bones.
One study found that the bones of participants with high body fat were nine percent weaker than those with normal body fat. Even though the overweight participants' bodies apply more stress on their bones than lighter-weight bodies do, they were not producing an amount of new bone material commensurate to that stress.6
Considering the relationship between these lifestyle choices is important. Participants who engage in 30 minutes of exercise every day are likely to have a normal BMI, so along with a healthy weight, they’re getting bone-building benefits. It’s a great example of how making one healthy lifestyle choice can lead to additional positive changes.
Maintaining a healthy BMI can extend your life expectancy. Weight maintenance isn’t a goal of the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, but it’s a common “side effect” since weight often reflects lifestyle. A healthy weight sets you up for stronger bones.
Eat A Healthy Diet
A high-quality diet is crucial to every system in the human body, so it’s no surprise that those who eat the best diet live the longest. They also have the strongest bones. For this study, the scientists used what’s known as a high Dietary Quality Score (DQS), which includes “a low intake of fat, especially saturated fat; a high intake of fiber; various vitamins and minerals; and fruit, fish, vegetables and whole-grain products.”7
The Save Institute’s 80/20 pH-balanced diet fits the DQS guidelines, and is an excellent guidepost for constructing healthy meals rich with the nutrients you need to live your best and longest life. That includes providing your body with Foundation Supplements necessary to build new bone, and with keeping your pH balanced so that your bones aren’t stripped to make up for a low-quality acidifying diet.
The link between the 80/20 diet and longevity is not new. Studies have shown that reducing methionine, a derivative of animal protein, increases maximum longevity in rats and mice. Restriction of animal protein, as a pH-balanced diet requires, maintains optimal levels of methionine in your system, leading to stronger bones and a longer life.8
Proper nutrition extends your lifespan, and based on the study we reviewed today, the Save Institute’s 80/20 pH-balanced diet, that fits the Dietary Quality Score guidelines, increases longevity while it also optimally supports bone health.
Start Changing Your Habits Today
If you’re not yet applying the five principles explained in this article, you’ll be glad to know that you don’t have to change everything about your life all at once to start improving your health and to lengthen your lifespan. You can start with one of those five behaviors and set some reasonable goals.
Stop Worrying About Your Bone Loss
Join thousands of Savers from around the world who have reversed or prevented their bone loss naturally and scientifically with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
Before you know it, you’ll be on track to a long, and healthy life without the fear of breaking a bone.
Till next time,
1 Yanping Li. “Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population.” Circulation. 2018; CIRCULATIONAHA.117.032047. Web. https://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2018/04/25/CIRCULATIONAHA.117.032047
2 Jameel Iqbal, et al. “Smoke carcinogens cause bone loss through the aryl hydrocarbon receptor and induction of Cyp1 enzymes.” PNAS June 17, 2013. 201220919. Web. https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/06/13/1220919110
3 ”Benefits & Guidelines Adults 18-64.” ParticipACTION. 2016.
4 Jugdaohsingh R, Tucker KL, Qiao N, Cupples LA, Kiel DP, Powell JJ. “Dietary silicon intake is positively associated with bone mineral density in men and premenopausal women of the Framingham Offspring cohort.” Journal of Bone Mineral Research.;19(2):297-307. (2004).
5 Oliveira A1, Rodríguez-Artalejo F, Lopes C. “Alcohol intake and systemic markers of inflammation–shape of the association according to sex and body mass index.” Alcohol Alcohol. 2010 Mar-Apr;45(2):119-25. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20083478
6 Pollock N, Laing E, Baile C, Hamrick M, Hall D, Lewis R. “Is adiposity advantageous for bone strength? A peripheral quantitative computer tomography study in late adolescent females”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 86, No. 5, 1530-1538, November 2007.
7 Toft U. et. al. “The Dietary Quality Score: validation and association with cardiovascular risk factors: the Inter99 study.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007 Feb;61(2):270-8. Epub 2006 Aug 23. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16929244
8 Lopez-Torres, M, and Barja, G. “Lowered methionine ingestion as responsible for the decrease in rodent mitochondrial oxidative stress in protein and dietary restriction possible implications for humans.” Biochimica et biophysica acta. November 2008. 1780(11): 1337-47. Doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2008.01.007. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18252204