Does a Healthy Lifestyle Result in Better Outcomes?

It’s easy to become discouraged that sensible actions may not be effective due to general pessimism and sometimes conflicting medical reports.  On the positive side of the ledger, a recent study (AV Khera et al. NEJM 2016; 375: 2349-58) provides compelling data that a combination of healthy lifestyle changes make a BIG difference.

The study focused on 4 healthy lifestyle factors: no smoking, no obesity, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet.  The study examined three large prospective cohorts with a total of more than 55,000 patients.

Key finding:

  • Among participants with high genetic risk, a favorable lifestyle was associated with a 46% lower relative risk of coronary events compared to those with an unfavorable lifestyle over the 10-year study period.

In the same issue, a review of the human intestinal microbiome (pages 2369-79) notes that “dietary intake appears to be a major short-term and long-term regulator of the structure and function of gut microbiota.  Still, only a relatively small number of randomized, clinically controlled dietary interventions targeting the gut microbiota have been reported in humans and these show that energy restriction and diets rich in fiber and vegetables are associated with gut microbial changes that, in turn, are associated with a health benefit.”

My take: To enhance your odds of good health, avoid smoking, stay fit, and eat your fruits/veggies.

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