American Longevity & Adventist Health
Seventh-day Adventists in California live 4 to 10 years longer than the average Californian and are the longest-lived studied population on earth. This article spells out the secrets of their longevity.
American Seventh-day Adventists - The Longest Lived Population on Earth
There are many claims in the media as to what population is the longest-lived. Most people still think Japanese individuals hold the record. However, based on the results of the Adventist Health Study, Californian Seventh-day Adventists live even longer.
Longevity: Heredity vs. Choice
Previous research has indicated that heredity does plays a role in longevity
. More specifically, about 30% of longevity is genetic. This figure comes mainly from studies of homozygous twins.
That means more than two thirds of longevity is choice! The question is what everyday choices are important when it comes to living longer?
The answer is not easy. You may have heard the stories of centenarians who attributed their long life to eating chocolate or drinking wine... Fortunately, AHS-1 provides clear answers to this question, based on tens of thousands of individuals.
Here are the most important behaviors and choices you can practice in order to live a long and healthy life, as suggested by AHS-1. Each of these behaviors has been shown to add 1.5 - 2.5 years to AHS-1 participants' life expectancy.
1. Being a Vegetarian
This is still a somewhat controversial subject, as other studies on vegetarians failed to provide a longevity advantage
, despite the fact that they confirmed the finding that vegetarianism has a potent effect on reducing the incidence of ischemic heart disease (by 25%). The apparent inconsistency can be attributed to the type of vegetarianism practiced: Seventh-day Adventists are known to be health conscious and thus are more likely to have balanced, nutritionally adequate vegetarian diets than other vegetarians.
2. Eating Nuts Frequently
In AHS-1, participants who ate nuts five or more times a week had only 52 percent the risk of definite nonfatal heart attack and a 62 percent risk of definite fatal coronary heart disease as compared to the group who ate nuts less than once a week. This is a decrease of the risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 50 percent! And, as a bonus, those who ate nuts frequently were thinner. This last finding contradicts popular beliefs that nuts increases your risk of becoming fat.
3. Having A Regular Exercise Program
In the AHS-1, those who reported vigorous exercise for at least 15 minutes per session, at least 3 times per week, experienced an increase in their life expectancy by 1.5 to 2.5 years. To find out your optimal range of exercise intensity, please use our target heart rate calculator
Those with a BMI in the medium range (normal is 18.5 to 25) - i.e. closer to their ideal weigh
t range - lived longer. The normal BMI benefit was comparable with the other lifestyle factors mentioned above.
What About Other Factors Influencing Longevity?
Important as they are, the behaviors listed above are not the only ones affecting longevity. A quick review of the available medical literature suggests the following additional factors:
- Avoidance of Smoking. Everybody knows smoking is a killer. A few years ago, a group of researchers estimated nonsmokers with high physical activity levels had more than 5 years greater life expectancy at age 65 when compared with those with low physical activity. According to a Finnish study, higher physical activity may extend life by at least 2.1 years. That would indicate non-smokers gain at almost 3 more years of life compared to smokers.
- High Blood Pressure. Males who develop high blood pressure in their 30s tend to live about 4.2 years less than their normotensive counterparts. For women, the difference is about 4.2 years. If they develop high blood pressure in their 50s, the difference is 3.8 years for men and 2.8 years for men.
- Diabetes. Men diagnosed with diabetes in their 30s have their life expectancy reduced by 4.6 years, while women experienced an almost double reduction: 8.6 years. If diabetes is diagnosed in the fifth decade of life, the years lost compared with non-diabetics are 4.2 for men and 7.0 for women.
It is worth noting that there may very well be other factors that have a significant impact on longevity. For example, centenarians are often people with a positive outlook. They value family and have a rich social life. The wake up in the morning with a felling they have a mission in this world. Returning to Seventh-day Adventists, they lead a spiritual life that involves a day of rest each week, which most likely makes a difference in this fast-paced world...
I am quite sure the future will bring to light some of these longevity-promoting factors.
For now, I hope you will examine your lifestyle and see whether you can make some improvements.