Living longer and better: how to introduce healthy habits
The goal is not only to live longer but also to live better. To reach advanced ages in full capacity and free of disease. It’s therefore wise to introduce into our lives healthy habits: the true secret of longevity.
A recent study from Harvard Medical School has been able to quantify the years of disease-free life added simply by living a healthy lifestyle. Among its conclusions, it points out: “Adopting a healthy lifestyle in midlife is associated with a longer life expectancy free of major chronic diseases.”
The work observed how an appropriate lifestyle was associated with a lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as with mortality, with a higher total life expectancy and the number of years of life free of these diseases.
The important thing is what we do on a daily basis. “Human beings are people of habit: good or bad. Once a habit has been introduced into our routine, it is very difficult to eradicate it. Therefore, the intelligent thing is to introduce healthy habits that provide us with quality of life. Introducing habits is very easy, but eliminating them is much more difficult,” explains Dr Vicente Mera, our head of the Internal Medicine area.
Quality of life and prevention
Harvard’s work is profoundly significant for its findings. “Promoting a healthy lifestyle would help reduce the burden of health care by reducing the risk of developing multiple chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, and extending disease-free life expectancy,” the researchers said.
The study also highlighted how public policies to improve nutrition and the physical environment that encourage the adoption of a healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as relevant regulations (e.g., banning smoking in public places or restricting fat), are critical to improving life expectancy, especially life.
The question is: Why, knowing the importance of prevention linked to healthy habits, is there not a greater awareness of its value?
“It is complicated to look for solutions before having problems. Our discourse is always future-oriented, but we must incorporate into our dictionary what Erasmus already said five centuries ago: prevention is better than cure. To which we should add that prevention is also easier and cheaper than cure,” stresses Dr Vicente Mera.
The pillars; nutrition, exercise and eradication of tobacco and alcohol consumption
The pillars of healthy life would include five very specific aspects, according to our specialist: healthy eating, weight control, not smoking, constant and moderate exercise and monitoring of alcohol consumption.
“A person over 50 who follows these five habits can make his life 20% longer than one who does not rest on any of these pillars,” summarizes Dr Vicente Mera.
In addition, not only can a person with healthy habits live about 10 years longer, but, as the expert points out, “when illnesses arise at the end of life, that life also has a better quality and health problems (if they appear) are resolved with less suffering.
It is fundamental to acquire good habits and “to learn them” from the first phases of life, from their own childhood, to turn them and to interiorize them like a routine.
“Habits are like languages: they are easier to learn and are remembered forever if they are incorporated before the end of adolescence“, summarizes Dr Vicente Mera.