We all want to live a long, full, active life. The question is how to achieve that goal. Fortunately, science continues to answer this question in new ways, helping us shape our daily lives and make better choices.
Today we'll look at three studies that can help us choose behaviors that keep us healthy, extend our lives, and protect our bones.
Each Food You Eat Impacts Your Life Expectancy
Research from the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health has estimated how many minutes of “healthy life” are lost or gained by eating common foods.
The term “healthy life” refers to the span of a person's life that they were able to live on their own terms, without loss of function or independence due to sickness, disability, or fragility.
The researchers also considered the environmental impact of different foods, since those impacts have consequences on human life and health as well.
The number of healthy life minutes added or removed by servings of different foods ranged from 74 minutes lost up to 80 minutes gained. The researchers report that nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and some forms of seafood offered the biggest healthy life gains.1
The foods that offered little nutritional benefit to lifespan were listed mainly as processed meat, beef, shrimp, pork, and lamb.
“These findings come from a new epidemiology-based nutritional index, the Health Nutritional Index (HENI), created by the research team behind this study. For a single serving of food, HENI calculates the associated net beneficial or detrimental health burden in minutes of healthy life. The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) also played heavily into this work, which is the theory that every single serving of food we eat has a connection to both disease mortality and morbidity.
While constructing the HENI, researchers used 15 dietary risk factors and disease burden estimates taken from the GBD. They combined them with the nutrition profiles of various foods commonly eaten in the United States, according to the What We Eat in America database of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.”1
This finding is great news for Savers, since the 80/20 pH-balanced diet laid is principally composed of foods found to extend the length of your healthy life.
Researchers took dietary risk factors and disease burden estimates and compared them to the nutritional profiles of various foods. Using this data they estimated the number of minutes of healthy, independent life that a serving of each food adds or subtracts when eaten. Fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, and whole grains were positive. While processed meats, beef, pork, shrimp, and lamb all reduced lifespan.
Live Longer By Taking 4,500 Steps Per Day
The advent of wearable activity-monitoring devices has led to an influx of valuable data about people's physical activity levels.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina conducted a study analyzing step-counter data from more than 16,000 women over the age of 60. By comparing that information to the participants' health outcomes, this study found that taking 4,500 steps per day was enough to extend participants' lifespan. 2
Compared to participants who took zero steps, each additional 1,000 steps decreased the risk of death by 28 percent.2
“Study authors asked participants to wear a step-counting device to measure activity over four to seven days. The devices kept track of everything from long walks outside to short spurts while climbing stairs. Women who took more than 2,000 steps daily in uninterrupted bouts displayed a 32 percent decrease in risk of death. A prior analysis of the same women also discovered that those who took 4,500 steps per day had a significantly lower risk of death in comparison to the least active women.”2
This research provides compelling evidence of the value of walking as a form of exercise. Since walking is a weight-bearing physical activity, it also helps to stimulate the formation of new bone mass.
This study analyzed step-counter data from more than 16,000 women over the age of 60 and compared it to their health outcomes. The study's authors found that taking 4,500 steps a day was enough to extend participants' lifespan.
One Leg Standing Time Test Predicts Fracture Risk
A study published in the journal Osteoporosis International found that the amount of time an older woman can stand on one leg correlates to her risk of fracture.3
Researchers tested the One Leg Standing Time (OLST) of 2,405 women aged 75 to 80 years old. They followed up with those participants over the next three to four years to gather data about subsequent fractures.
They found that an OLST of less than ten seconds was associated with an increased risk of hip fracture, major osteoporotic fracture, and nonvertebral fracture.3
“In conclusion, this study demonstrates that a low OLST is a strong predictor of hip fractures, major osteoporotic fractures, and nonvertebral fractures in older women and that a low OLST substantially increases fracture probability in models including FRAX clinical risk factors and BMD. OLST should be considered as an assessment tool to improve fracture prediction in older women.”3
This finding underscores the importance of strength, balance, and physical function. As these abilities decline, the risk of falling increases. And with falls come fractures.
Exercises that build strength and balance prevent falls and fractures. They also enhance and maintain physical function— allowing you to live a more active and independent life.
Researchers have found that the amount of time that older women (aged 75 to 80 years) can successfully stand on one leg correlated to their risk of subsequent fracture. A one-leg standing time of fewer than ten seconds was associated with an increased risk of hip fracture, major osteoporotic fracture, and nonvertebral fracture.
What This Means To You
Make choices that will extend your healthy life. The strategies identified by today's studies are great examples of the holistic approach taken by the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
Through your diet and exercise choices, you can build stronger bones and live a healthier, longer life from the inside out. It's not a quick fix, but a deep and lasting shift.
So choose foods that will extend your lifespan, choose an active lifestyle that keeps you moving, and build the strength and balance needed to avoid fractures and maintain your independence.