New research reported by the American Heart Association ( AHA) shows that U.S. adults who follow five healthy lifestyle habits that live more than a decade relative to people who do not follow any of the five habits. Those 5 customs are:
- Feed a balanced diet
- Exercising daily
- Don’t Smoke
- Staying at a healthy weight
- To limit alcohol
What good is’ healthy? Researchers developed a scoring system to compare diets among the study participants, which gave higher scores to people who reported consuming more foods considered safe, and fewer foods considered unhealthy.
Healthy foods included whole grains, beans, fruits, nuts. Red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, trans fat, and sodium were unhealthy products. The Cancer Society of America recommends:
- Eat at least 2 1⁄2 cups of fruits and vegetables a day
- Choosing whole grain breads, noodles, and cereals (such as barley and oats) in place of processed grain breads , cereals, and sauces, and brown rice instead of white rice.
- Choosing fish, poultry or beans instead of red meat (beef , pork and lamb) and processed meat (bacon, ham, meat for lunch and hot dogs) instead.
- Drinking more water and less sugar-sweetened drinks like soft drinks, sports drinks and fruit-flavored beverages.
- Limiting processed foods with sugars, including pastries, sweets, sugar-sweetened cereals, and other high-sugar products.
- Avoid calorie rich foods like French fries, potatoes and the like
Participants also earned the highest health ratings if they never drank, if they had moderate to intense exercise in excess of 30 minutes a day (including brisk walking), if they maintained their body weight within a body mass index ( BMI) range of 18.5 – 24.9 and if they limited alcohol to less than 15 grams per day for women and less than 30 grams per day for men. That’s about 1 drink a day for women and 2 for men.
The website of the American Cancer Society contains a wealth of information about how to help reduce the risk of cancer by making healthier decisions like eating well, staying active, and not smoking.