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A Healthy Lifestyle is More Powerful than Genetics for Long Life

It is a well established fact that your genes play a role in determining your lifespan. But it is an equally well established fact that your lifestyle does. Both play an important role, but which is more powerful?

A new study set out to determine just that: what effect does genetics have, what effect does lifestyle have, and which one weighs more?

The massive study tracked 353,742 adults.

First, the researchers combined multiple genetic factors to arrive at a polygenetic risk score–or the overall genetic predisposition to a longer or shorter lifespan–for each person. Then they looked at lifestyle factors. Then they tracked them for an average of nearly 13 years.

20% of the people in the study had a polygenetic risk score for long life, 60% for intermediate and 20% for short.

The people who had both a genetic risk of a shorter lifespan and an unhealthy lifestyle were twice as likely to die prematurely than those with a genetic predisposition for long life and a healthy lifestyle.

No matter what they did, people with a genetic predisposition for a short lifespan were 21% more likely to die early (before the age of 75). You can’t control the genes, but you can control the lifestyle. And those with an unhealthy lifestyle were a whopping 78% more likely to die before their time no matter their genetic predisposition.

That means that unhealthy lifestyle choices can shorten your life even if your genes want you to live longer. How big a factor is it?

Big! A healthy lifestyle can offset a genetic predisposition for a shorter life by 62%. That benefit translates into extending your life by 5.5 years at the age of 40. The most important lifestyle factors were healthy diet, not smoking, regular exercise and adequate sleep.

So, no matter how long your genes determine you to live, you can hugely affect your longevity by making healthy life choices. “This study,” the researchers say, “elucidates the pivotal role of a healthy lifestyle in mitigating the impact of genetic factors on lifespan reduction.”

BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. Published Online First: 29 April 2024. doi: 10.1136/bmjebm-2023-112583.

For Preventing Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer, Olive Oil is a Healthy Choice

Fats and oils are so confusing. We are always told that fat and oil are bad. But not all fats and oils are. This new study shows why choosing olive oil is a smart choice.

As the very healthy Mediterranean suggests, olive oil–especially extra virgin olive oil–is good for you. Now a huge new study helps explain why.

The study followed 22,892 people for 13.1 years. It found that, compared to people who consumed less that 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil a day, people who enjoyed more than 3 tablespoons a day were 20% less likely to die prematurely from any cause. They were 23% less likely to die from cancer and 25% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

This new study found that, independent of overall diet quality, eating more olive oil lowers your risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2024 May 4. doi:10.1038/s41430-024-01442-8.

Spirulina Helps Seniors with Mild Cognitive Impairment

A very large number of seniors struggle with the challenge of mild cognitive impairment. A very tiny supplement offers very large help.

Seniors with mild cognitive impairment have trouble with memory and thinking that is not serious enough to cause the more catastrophic problems of Alzheimer’s Disease. A remarkable 42% of seniors are affected by it. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is the cognitive grey zone between the normal cognitive decline that everyone experiences with aging and the serious cognitive decline of dementia.

MCI may increase your risk of Alzheimer’s, but not for everyone. Overall, it increases the risk of dementia by 5 times. 15% of people with MCI will progress to dementia within 1-2 years and 65%-80% will within 3-6 years.

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is loaded in nutrients, including balanced amino acids and protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. It is loaded in B vitamins, (including B12), calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium and manganese. The nutrients in spirulina are easily digested and highly absorbable.

This double-blind study gave 74 people with MCI either a placebo or 1g of spirulina 3 times a day for 12 weeks.

The spirulina group experienced significant improvement in visual learning and visual working memory. On the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, there was a significant improvement in vocabulary.

The study concluded that spirulina was safe and that it significantly improved memory function in older adults with MCI.

Nutrients. September 9, 2022;14(18):3714.

One More Reason for Women to Eat Avocados

They’re not only good: they’re good for you. Avocados are delicious, and they’re loaded in nutrients, fiber and healthy fats. A new study shows that that’s a winning combination for preventing diabetes in women.

Previous research has shown that eating avocados is good for your heart (J Am Heart Assoc. 2022;11:e024014). New research shows that it’s good for preventing diabetes too: at least for women.

This large new study included over 25,640 adults. Some ate avocados; some didn’t. The women who did averaged about 29.8g of avocado a day. That is less than a quarter of an average size avocado.

Avocado eaters had a significant 27% lower risk of diabetes than those who didn’t eat avocados. When laboratory measures, like fasting glucose or HbA1c were used, the risk was 29% lower. Strangely, the benefit was found in women but not men.

Why women and not men? It’s not clear. One possibility is confounding lifestyle factors. For example, smoking increases the risk of diabetes, and the researchers noted that more men in the study (38%) smoked than women (12%).

If you need one more reason to eat avocados, this study suggests that, at least for women, they help prevent diabetes.

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2024;doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2024.04.012.

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