Node Smith, ND

According to a recent study from the American Heart Association, a list of 5 healthy lifestyle factors could actually prolong life expectancy by almost 15 years.1 These are incredibly common health considerations, and known to significantly impact cardiovascular health, the number one contributor to early death in America.

Even though America is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it has the lowest life expectancy in comparison of other high-income countries

Between 1940 and 2014, life expectancy in America rose from 63 years to around 79 years. However, it has been noted that for the first time in history, the current generation may have lower life expectancy than their parents. Even though America is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, it has among the lowest life expectancy of other high-income countries – such as Japan, Canada, and Norway. Cardiovascular disease and stroke cause 2,300 deaths every day, many of which are premature. Much of the response to this epidemic has focused on medical management and pharmaceutical intervention, however, prevention is needed to really change this trajectory.

Mortality and life expectancy data gathered from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

In order to quantify/qualify the useful prevention methods – lifestyle intervention recommendations – researchers looked at data from 2 ongoing cohort studies. The studies included dietary and lifestyle information as well as medical information from thousands of adults – Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Data was then combined with National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data. Mortality and life expectancy data was gathered from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to estimate impact of lifestyle factors.

The following 5 factors were specifically analyzed and found to significantly affect longevity:

  1. Not smoking
  2. Eating a healthy diet (diet score in the top 40% of cohort)
  3. Regular exercise (30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous exercise daily)
  4. Healthy body weight
  5. Moderate alcohol consumption

These healthy lifestyle factors were seen over the course of 34 years, recording more than 40,000 deaths, to prolong life expectancy at age 50 by 14 years in women and 12 years for men.

  1. Source

Photo by Katerina Pavlickova on Unsplash


Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.

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