Healthy Living

… the best of all preventives!

Five behaviours are known to be protective of health:
– Non-smoking simply not smoking!
– Low body weight a BMI between 18.5 and 25
– Regular exercise walking ½ hour five days per week or similar
– A plant based diet five portions of fruit & veg per day
– A low alcohol intake drinking within the guidelines

Following these behaviours will lead up to the following reductions:
– up to 70% less diabetes
– up to 60% less heart disease and stroke
– up to 40% less cancer
– up to 60% less dementia

Healthy living does not prevent every case of these diseases. Some people who follow the five behaviours still get one of these diseases, but the onset is delayed:
– the occurrence of a heart attack or stroke is delayed in people who live a healthy lifestyle by up to about 12 years
– the development of dementia is delayed by up to about 6 or 7 years

There are also benefits to family, carers and the wider community. One study which ran for 35 years in an area of Wales put the wider benefits thus:

If every person in the community was urged to adopt just one additional healthy behaviour, and if only half had complied, there would be:
– 12% fewer people would become diabetic
– 6% fewer would experience a heart disease and stroke
– 13% fewer would develop dementia

Thirty-five years of research in Caerphilly, Wales, let to the recommendation[1]:
‘Take up one additional healthy behaviour and stick with it. You will greatly reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, cancer, cognitive decline and dementia. Your dependents will be spared looking after you when you are older and the community will spend less in supporting you towards the end!!’

Healthy Lifestyles Reduce the Incidence of Chronic Diseases and Dementia: Evidence from the Caerphilly Cohort Study. 2013: PLOS ONE: December 09, 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081877
Combined impact of health behaviours and mortality in men and women: the EPIC-Norfolk prospective population study. 2008 PLoS Med 5: e12. 07-PLME-RA-1045 [pii];10.1371/journal.pmed.0050012 [doi].
Influence of individual and combined health behaviors on total and cause-specific mortality in men and women: the United Kingdom health and lifestyle survey. Arch Intern Med 2010;170: 711-718. 170/8/711 [pii];10.1001/archinternmed.2010.76 [doi].
Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study. Arch Intern Med 2009;169: 1355-1362. 169/15/1355 [pii];10.1001/archinternmed.2009.237 [doi].
Health behaviors from early to late midlife as predictors of cognitive function: The Whitehall II study. Am J Epidemiol 2009;170: 428-437. kwp161 [pii];10.1093/aje/kwp161 [doi].
Healthy behavior and memory self-reports in young, middle-aged, and older adults. Int Psychogeriatr 2013;25: 981-989. S1041610213000082 [pii];10.1017/S1041610213000082 [doi].
Preventing Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep ) 2010;1-727.
Systematic review: factors associated with risk for and possible prevention of cognitive decline in later life. Ann Intern Med 2010;153: 182-193. 0003-4819-153-3-201008030-00258 [pii];10.7326/0003-4819-153-3-201008030-00258 [doi].
Diet, lifestyle, and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in women. N Engl J Med 2001;345: 790-797. 10.1056/NEJMoa010492 [doi].
Low-risk lifestyle behaviors and all-cause mortality: findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III Mortality Study. Am J Public Health 2011;101: 1922-1929. AJPH.2011.300167 [pii];10.2105/AJPH.2011.300167 [doi].
Healthy lifestyle characteristics among adults in the United States, 2000. Arch Intern Med 2005;165: 854-857. 165/8/854 [pii];10.1001/archinte.165.8.854 [doi].
The preventable causes of death in the United States: comparative risk assessment of dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors. PLoS Med 2009;6: e1000058. 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000058 [doi].
Primary prevention of coronary heart disease in women through diet and lifestyle. N Engl J Med 2000;343: 16-22. 10.1056/NEJM200007063430103 [doi].
Healthy lifestyle factors in the primary prevention of coronary heart disease among men: benefits among users and nonusers of lipid-lowering and antihypertensive medications. Circulation 2006;114: 160-167. CIRCULATIONAHA.106.621417 [pii];10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.621417 [doi].
Influence of individual and combined health behaviors on total and cause-specific mortality in men and women: the United Kingdom health and lifestyle survey. Arch Intern Med 2010;170: 711-718. 170/8/711 [pii];10.1001/archinternmed.2010.76 [doi].
Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study. Arch Intern Med 2009;169: 1355-1362. 169/15/1355 [pii];10.1001/archinternmed.2009.237 [doi].
Total daily physical activity and the risk of AD and cognitive decline in older adults. Neurology 2012;78: 1323-1329. WNL.0b013e3182535d35 [pii];10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182535d35 [doi].
Cardiorespiratory fitness as a predictor of dementia mortality in men and women. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2012;44: 253-259. 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31822cf717 [doi].
Effect of exercise on cognitive performance in community-dwelling older adults: review of intervention trials and recommendations for public health practice and research. J Am Geriatr Soc 2011;59: 704-716. 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03323.x [doi].
Toward defining the preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease: recommendations from the National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association workgroups on diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimers Dement 2011;7: 280-292. S1552-5260(11)00099-9 [pii];10.1016/j.jalz.2011.03.003 [doi].
Diet, lifestyle, and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in women. N Engl J Med 2001;345: 790-797. 10.1056/NEJMoa010492 [doi].
Smoking, drinking, and other life style factors and cognitive function in men in the Caerphilly cohort. J Epidemiol Community Health 1999;53: 9-14.
Risk and rate advancement periods as measures of exposure impact on the occurrence of chronic diseases. Epidemiology 1993;4: 229-236.
Following cancer prevention guidelines reduces risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2011;20: 1089-1097. 1055-9965.EPI-10-1173 [pii];10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-10-1173 [doi].
Lifestyle risk factors predict disability and death in healthy aging adults. Am J Med 2012;125: 190-197. S0002-9343(11)00679-6 [pii];10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.08.006 [doi].
Neuroprotective lifestyles and the aging brain: activity, atrophy, and white matter integrity. Neurology 2012;79: 1802-1808. 79/17/1802 [pii];10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182703fd2 [doi].
Leisure activities and cognitive function in elderly community-dwelling individuals in Japan: a 5-year prospective cohort study. J Psychosom Res 2012;72: 159-164. S0022-3999(11)00251-0 [pii];10.1016/j.jpsychores.2011.10.002 [doi].
Physical activity and memory functions: an interventional study. Neurobiol Aging 2011;32: 1304-1319. S0197-4580(09)00260-7 [pii];10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2009.08.001 [doi].
Combined impact of smoking and heavy alcohol use on cognitive decline in early old age: Whitehall II prospective cohort study. Br J Psychiatry 2013;203: 120-125. bjp.bp.112.122960 [pii];10.1192/bjp.bp.112.122960 [doi].
Obesity phenotypes in midlife and cognition in early old age: the Whitehall II cohort study. Neurology 2012;79: 755-762. 79/8/755 [pii];10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182661f63 [doi].
Lifestyle and the risk of dementia in Japanese-american men. J Am Geriatr Soc 2012;60: 118-123. 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03768.x [doi].
Hippocampal volume differences between healthy young apolipoprotein E e2 and e4 carriers. Journal of Alzheimers Disease 2011;26: 207-210.
Physical activity in middle-age and dementia in later life: findings from a prospective cohort of men in Caerphilly, South Wales and a meta-analysis. J Alzheimers Dis 2012;31: 569-580. 7P542132X7876343 [pii];10.3233/JAD-2012-112171 [doi].
A new approach to reducing disorder and improving wellbeing. Perspectives on Psychological Science 2009;4: 208-111.