Leading a long and fulfilling life largely hinges on your ability to avoid chronic complications that shorten your lifespan.
One of the most important proactive measures you can take is to maintain a healthy weight because obesity can lead to life-threatening conditions such as coronary heart disease.
In fact, coronary heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the UK and worldwide so it is important to maintain a healthy weight to ward off the threat of developing this deadly disease.
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Extensive research has revealed the best and worst foods for keeping your weight in check but less attention has been devoted to how we eat and its impact on longevity.
A growing body of evidence suggests this plays an equally important role in extending your lifespan, however.
Research investigating the link between calorie intake and longevity suggests overeating can decrease your life expectancy.
Studies of human populations renowned for longevity observe links between low calorie intake, an extended lifespan, and a lower likelihood of disease.
Conversely, research suggests exercising a degree of caution when it comes to counting calories.
Evidence shows that long-term calorie restriction can have negative side effects, such as increased hunger, low body temperature, and a diminished sex drive.
Intermittent fasting may provide a happy medium, and this dietary approach has been shown to offer a defence against potentially deadly complications such as visceral fat.
Visceral fat poses grave health risks because it is located near internal organs such as liver, pancreas and intestines so carrying an excess amount of it lead to chronic complications such as diabetes and heart disease.
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Intermittent fasting, an eating pattern that involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting, has been shown to attack this harmful belly fat, however.
A large review of studies found that following an intermittent fasting style of eating helped reduce visceral fat by four to seven percent over a period of six to 24 weeks.
Intermittent fasting has also been shown to provide benefits to heart health.
The dietary approach has been shown to offer protection against mechanisms that lead to heart disease.
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Studies have found that intermittent fasting can improve blood pressure, total and LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers and blood sugar levels – risk factors associated with the deadly condition.
Other ways to increase your longevity
In addition to a healthy dietary approach, numerous studies show that regular exercise can extend your lifespan.
In fact, a recent study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session, reveals the health benefits of exercising over the age of 70.
The study found that being physically fit provides a more complete picture of an older person’s health than the typical cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking.
Seamus P. Whelton, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the study’s lead author, said: “We found fitness is an extremely strong risk predictor of survival in the older age group – that is, regardless of whether you are otherwise healthy or have cardiovascular risk factors, being more fit means you’re more likely to live longer than someone who is less fit.”
The findings, based on an analysis of more than 6,500 people medical records, found that higher fitness was associated with significantly increased rates of survival.
The most fit individuals were more than twice as likely to be alive 10 years later compared with the least fit individuals.
In light of the findings, Whelton called on doctors to incorporate it into their health assessments of older age patients: “Assessing fitness is a low-cost, low-risk and low-technology tool that is underutilised in clinical practice for risk stratification.”
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