Some lifestyle habits have proven to be the strongest preventative measures of early death, while other studies have shown that eating certain foods can knock years off your life expectancy. The number of older people who have at least four different health conditions is set to double by 2035, fuelling concerns that life expectancies will drop. Therefore, many people are keen to improve their health.
A study by researchers at the University of Michigan found that you may lose 36 minutes of healthy life after eating one hot dog.
The paper in the journal Nature Food looked at “healthy life expectancy” which is the length of time a person has a good quality of life and is disease free.
Foods like pizza, bacon and burgers will lose you time – with a serving of pizza taking off almost 10 minutes of healthy life.
Meanwhile, researchers suggested a peanut butter and jam sandwich gives a person more than half an hour extra.
Indeed, we know that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables makes you less likely to develop heart disease and certain cancers.
The NHS says: “Most people in the UK eat and drink too many calories, too much saturated fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fruit, vegetables, oily fish or fibre.”
Some fat in the diet is essential, but on average people in the UK eat too much saturated fat, it adds.
Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk of developing heart disease.
Age UK says eating too much salt can increase your risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
It explains: “Eating well doesn’t have to mean giving up the less healthy things you enjoy – it just means eating them in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.”
As well as diet, exercise is very important. Indeed, Age UK says: “Moving more is always a good thing. Any activity – however small – will help you stay mobile, and able to do everyday tasks, for longer.
“It will also help you continue enjoying the things you love for as long as possible, like tending to your garden, or spending time with your family and friends.”
Certain foods are packed with such powerful vitamins and minerals they are often dubbed superfoods.
Fish is a good source of protein and contains many vitamins and minerals.
The NHS says the key is having a balanced diet. It says starchy carbohydrates should make up just over a third of the food you eat. They include potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals.
Regularly consuming foods and drinks high in sugar increases your risk of obesity and tooth decay, adds the health body.