House Calls

SUM 2018

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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And as the world's highest healthcare spenders, you'd think Americans would enjoy a longer shelf life than most, right? Certainly, the $3.3 trillion that we spend annually toward hospital stays, clinical services, prescription drugs, insurance, and the like has bought us a few extra years … Unfortunately, like happiness, it seems money doesn't buy healthiness. According to the United Health Foundation, the U.S. continues to fall short on life expectancy when compared to other countries: In 2015, we ranked 26th out of 35 developed and developing countries, just above the Czech Republic, Estoria, Poland, and Mexico. (Topping the longevity charts were Japan, Switzerland, and Australia.) With conditions like heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, stroke, and diabetes beckoning the Grim Reaper, the average American can expect to live 78.6 years— more than five years less than the average person in Japan. So what's the trick to living to our golden or even platinum years? Ten-thousand steps before bed? Antioxidant supplements? An apple a day? Bubble wrap? All of the above? It's hard to know how to protect and extend the precious lives we've been granted, especially when we're bombarded with confounding advice on how to live healthfully. With guidance from Roper St. Francis Healthcare affiliated family medicine doctor Valerie Scott, the following pages highlight a handful of evidence-based, sustainable tips for lengthening your life expectancy, as well as ways to add vitality to the years and decades to come. HOW TO ADD YEARS TO YOUR LIFE … According to results from the Danish Twin Study published in the Journal of Aging and Health in 1999, genes determine only about 20 percent of a person's life expectancy. The other 80 percent? That's influenced by the lifestyle choices we make day in and day out. But before you get dizzy considering each decision you make in a single day (studies show people make an average of 35,000 in 24 hours), consider this. In April, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that maintaining just five healthy habits during adulthood could tack on a decade or more to a person's life. Those life-lengthening lifestyle habits were: eating a high-quality diet, limiting alcohol, avoiding smoking, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. The study found that men who enjoyed such a lifestyle at age 50 could expect to live another 37 years; women, another 43. People who didn't follow those rules reduced their life expectancy by an average of 12 to 14 years. So what do these habits look like? Here, we break down the lessons. Nutrition We are constantly fed information on the newest super foods and the diet du jour, but relying on extremes when it comes to nutrition isn't the best way to go, says Dr. Scott. She recommends focusing less on adding or subtracting certain foods and more on adopting a lifestyle of healthy eating habits that you can maintain year after year. "Try to make fruits and vegetables the cornerstone of your diet and use low-fat animal proteins and whole grains more like condiments," she suggests, adding that cultures in which people live longest typically follow a plant-based diet with little or no meat. The World Health Organization adds that a healthy diet is also low in sugar and sodium. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that folks who consumed a quarter or more of their daily calories from sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease than those who limited sugars to less than 10 percent of their caloric intake, a stat that rang true no matter one's age, sex, weight, or activity level. Another study, published in the journal Circulation, found that for every 1,000-milligram uptick in a person's daily sodium consumption, the risk of cardiovascular disease (our country's number one killer) jumped by 17 percent. (Most of us consume some 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily.) Indulgences So if sugar shouldn't be sweetening our lives, what treats can perk up our health as well as our days? A glass or two of red wine each evening may offer similar benefits as a reduced-calorie diet when it comes to protecting against cardiovascular disease, says the journal Public Library of Science One. Imbibe more than that, however, and the bad effects negate the good. Coffee, too, is back in favor, says Dr. Scott. "Up to four eight- ounce cups a day can slow aging as well as decrease the risks of 24 { summer 2018 } h o u s e c a l l s P H O T O G R A P H ( D R . S C O T T ) B Y K E L L Y B A Y B U T T Dr. Valerie Scott A decade-long study involving 75,000 American women found that those who attended church more than once a week had a 33 percent lower risk of dying during the study than others who never went. W e humans have a funny relationship with age. From Alexander the Great's 4th-century-BC quest to find the Fountain of Youth to today's dizzying array of anti-wrinkle creams, people have been wary of getting older since the dawn of time. Yet when it comes down to it, reaching a ripe old age is what we wish for.

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