Believe it or not these 4 factors have a huge impact on whether or not  you will have the most common deadly chronic diseases: Never smoking, having a body mass index lower than 30 (calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared), performing 3.5 h/wk or more of physical activity, and adhering to healthy dietary principles (high intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain bread and low meat consumption).  A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (2009;169(15):1355-1362).  Adhering to 4 simple healthy lifestyle factors can have a strong impact on the prevention of chronic diseases.  The study followed 23,153 German participants aged 35 to 65 years over the course of almost 8 years.

The researchers looked at type 2 diabetes, myocardial infarction (heart attack), stroke and cancer.  They found a direct correlation between these 4 lifestyle habits and a decrease in the incidence of these four chronic deadly diseases.  For all 4 diseases, having a low BMI was the most effective in lower the incidence, especially with diabetes and stroke.  The following is a chart from the article:

 (click the image for a bigger view)

The shorter the bar the less likely you are to get that disease.

The following table also shows the breakdown with all the possible combinations of the four habits and the overall likelihood of getting any of the diseases.

 

(click the image for a bigger view)

It seems as though the common sense habits that we all have heard, exercise, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, don’t smoke, and don’t be overweight, have a scientifically measurable effect on the length and quality of your life as you age.  So while you may know a guy down the street who had a great aunt that smoked and drank a liter of whiskey every day of her life yet lived to be 102, the reality is that simple healthy living is what really works most of the time.