While there is no surefire way to extend your life, there are certain behaviors that can improve your chances of living longer, as well as those that can do the opposite.
It’s no surprise that smoking falls into the latter category. While heart-healthy activities like regular exercise, a balanced diet, and connecting with the people around you can all help extend your life. Well, according to new research, a lack of this nutrient in your diet could shorten your life – it turned out, a low omega-3 index could cut your life by nearly five years. In other words, you might want to go to the fish aisle and buy some salmon.
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For the study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers looked at the omega-3 indices (a measure of what percentage of a person’s total fatty acids are omega-3 fatty acids) from more than 2,000 people and used them this to their mortal danger. Researchers found that the higher the omega-3 index, the lower the risk.
“The easiest way to say this is that all things are the same – and of course they never are – people with an omega-3 index in the top 20% of the population lived about 4.7 years longer or older than 65 Years as people with an omega-3 index in the lowest 20%, “study co-author William S. Harris, PhD, FAHA told Eat This, Not That!
In a previous study, Harris added, “We found that smoking reduced life expectancy by roughly the same number of years as being a smoker, as opposed to having a low omega-3 index.” He warns that these results don’t mean you can undo the damage that smoking fish oil supplements did.
So how can you apply this knowledge to your own health, you might ask? The study’s lead author, Michael I. McBurney, PhD, FCNS-SCN, FASN, has recommendations.
“Life has no guarantees and a change in omega-3 status doesn’t automatically mean good health,” he noted. Still, he suggests that you get your blood values tested to see if you need more EPA and DHA in your diet. If you’ve changed your diet by either taking supplements or eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, get retested 3-5 months later. He added, “Personalizing your omega-3 status is 1-2 tests away.”
These types of tests are available through a number of different providers, although they can be expensive. In the meantime, if you weren’t on an omega-3 rich diet, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to start.
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