For many years, both scientists and common people have been trying to find out the secret to long life. Some scientists claim diet is key, while others believe sleep is more important. In the meantime, others say that social life is what keeps a person going.
A recent study from 2003, The 90+ Study, showed that moderate drinking could be crucial to living longer.
This study from the University of California Irvine’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders collected relevant data from a great number of subjects over 90 years of age. They looked into subjects’ diet, medical history, daily activities, and habits, all of which were previously proven to be relevant for life expectancy.
Besides that, the study also used data from a 1981 research – The Leisure World Cohort Study. This study included survey results from over 14,000 subjects.
Long story short, the study showed that those who drink moderately have an 18% less chance of dying early. These results were somewhat shocking. Exercise, which you’d expect to be more beneficial to health than alcohol consumption, has less of an impact on life expectancy. Those who exercise lightly have only 17% less chance of early death.
However, not everyone realizes what ‘moderate’ drinking means.
Scientists from The 90+ Study define moderate drinking as having a few glasses of wine (or some other alcohol, like beer) a week. For women, it’s usually 3 to 7 glasses, whereas for men, it’s 5 to 14. Anything more than that can be considered heavy drinking.
Heavy drinking does not prolong life in any way. In fact, it poses a great health risk. Regular drinking is linked to cardiovascular disease, liver disease, cancer, and obesity.
So, how does drinking actually prolong life?
Alcohol has some health benefits that you may not have known about:
- Wards off infections and boosts your immune system.
- It’s good for the heart – prevents heart disease and lowers the chances of a stroke.
- Decreases bad cholesterol levels.
- Resveratrol, a compound found in wine, prevents type 2 diabetes.
- Antioxidants found in alcohol can prevent cancer.
- Helps you sleep better.
There are quite a few real-life stories that support the claims of The 90+ Study. The most interesting one comes from the island of Sardinia, Italy.
Residents of this island all share a common trait – their lifespan is longer than an average human lifespan. One out of 10 people on this island lives past 100 years of age.
This is no coincidence, of course.
When they were asked what their longevity secrets were, old residents had plenty to say. Most of them report that their secret is healthy and fresh local food, as well as just overall happiness and satisfaction.
These are all good enough explanations. However, there’s yet another one that may be the most important.
Sardinians produce some of the best wine in the world using fresh grapes from the island. Households make their own wine. The majority of the interviewed people claimed that they drink wine on a regular basis. Italians have always been aware that wine has various health benefits.
That surely affected their quality of life, as well as their longevity.
Scientists from The 90+ Study also hit on another important point – the drink itself will not have much impact on your health and longevity. There are a lot of other factors that come into play and intertwine.
For example, social life correlates highly with drinking. Although there were those that drink alone, most subjects claimed that they usually drink around friends and family. As previously mentioned, socialization can be crucial when it comes to life expectancy.
So, what should you make of this information?
Drinking is good for you, but it has to be done moderately. Otherwise, it can be damaging, even lethal. Drinking a glass of wine or beer at lunch or dinner is the way to go.
However, a glass of wine isn’t healthy on its own. A moderate drinking habit needs to be followed by a good diet, regular exercise, and overall physical and mental activity. You need to take care of yourself – only then can you expect to live past 90 and stay healthy.