Healthful Lifestyle Later in Life Increases Chances of Living to One Hundred


It is never too late to adopt a healthful lifestyle. Researchers followed the records of people over age 80 (61 percent women) for an average five years and found that those with the most healthful lifestyle (no smoking, regular exercise and varied diet) were most likely to live to be 100 years old, be free of chronic diseases, have higher physical and cognitive function, and have far less mental illness. Less likely lifestyle factors for living from age 80 to 100 were: where a person lived, years of education, marital status, having chronic medical conditions, using alcohol or being obese. In this study, 1454 people lived to be 100 and 3768 died before reaching 100 years (JAMA Netw Open, June 20, 2024;7(6):e2417931). Many previous studies have found similar results, but they usually followed people after they were 60 years old.

The average age of death is 73.5 years in the world and 77.6 years in China (Lancet, 2020;396(10258):1160-1203). Many studies show that a healthful lifestyle is associated with a longer lifespan free of cancer, heart attacks and diabetes (BMJ, 2023;380:e072691) and obesity (Obesity (Silver Spring), 2016;24(10):2232-2239). Furthermore, obesity is associated with increased risk for dementia in later life (Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord, 2010;30(6):517-24).

My Recommendations
It is never too late to adopt a healthful lifestyle. This study suggests that people over 80 may be able to extend their lives by:
• trying to exercise every day
• being physically active
• avoiding pro-inflammatory foods (red meat, processed meat, sugar-added foods, sugared drinks including fruit juices, fried foods)
• eating a wide variety of anti-inflammatory foods (vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and other seeds)
• losing excess body fat, particularly in the belly
• keeping blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D above 30 ng/mL
• restricting or avoiding alcohol
• avoiding smoking and second-hand smoke
• avoiding chronic exposure to excess sunlight
• avoiding exposure to X rays and other sources of radiation, and various toxic substances such as insecticides, herbicides and industrial chemicals
• treating chronic infections anywhere in the body