When we think of being elderly, we may imagine years of frailty, loss of vibrancy, and an overall weakening—of our senses, strength, flexibility, enthusiasm, mind, and, ultimately life. In fact, there may be no such thing as dying from old age. From a study of more than 42,000 consecutive autopsies, centenarians were found to have succumbed to diseases 100 percent of the time. Though most were perceived to have been healthy just before death, they died from disease. Not one “died of old age.”

When researchers followed more than 100,000 men and women for 34 years, they found that just a few basic lifestyle behaviors appeared to translate into about 13 years of extra lifespan for the average 50-year-old. Even from age 70, there are still about ten extra years on the table. Extending that back, earlier than age 50, a Canadian study found that nearly 18 years were up for grabs based on simple, commonsense health behaviors.

A midlife switch between the ages of 45 and 64 to even just the barest of minimums—at least five daily servings fruits and vegetables, walking about 20 minutes a day, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking—resulted in a substantial reduction in mortality even in the immediate future. We’re talking a 40 percent lower risk of dying in the subsequent four years.

There is so much we can do to extend our lifespan and our healthspan. Becoming elderly doesn’t have to mean losing vibrancy or growing weaker. Meta-analyses suggesting that you could add years to your life just by avoiding eggs or bacon, or by eating nuts every day or certain fruit? It just seems too good to be true. Regardless of the absolute magnitude of the effect, diet is understood to be the number one determinant of how long we live. We are what we eat.

For substantiation of any statements of fact from the peer-reviewed medical literature, please see the associated videos below.

Image Credit: Stannah-Stairlifts.com. This image has been modified.

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