Life expectancy in the UK is going strong, but recent events across the pond should remind us that anything can happen. For the first time in over 20 years life expectancy in the US is down. The latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics reports a seemingly small decline in life expectancy, from 78.9 to 78.8 years overall. However, experts warn that this shift should not be underestimated. Although the change itself may appear small, the truth is that it’s the sum of increases across a wide range of causes of death. The predicament that the US finds itself in should be taken as a cautionary tale to all of us about the very real and very serious risks of poor health as well as a call to action to do better in the UK.
Health and Life Expectancy
Most of us don’t have to think twice about the existence of a connection between living a healthy lifestyle and a longer lifespan. In spite of this intuitive relation, however, you still hear people almost bragging about unhealthy lifestyles. An acquaintance or distant relative can sometimes be heard saying things like “My uncle smoked a pack of cigarettes every day and he lived to be 90!” Stories like this and the recent data from the US make one thing clear: we need to better understand the connection between a healthy lifestyle and improved life expectancy.
While causes of death in the UK don’t precisely mirror those across the pond there are some alarming similarities. According to the latest data cancer is the number one cause of premature death in the UK, followed closely by heart disease. In the US these two factors are flipped, with heart disease on top. In both countries, however, these two ailments lead the rest of the pack by a significant margin. Respiratory illness and injury are the most serious among the rest. By understanding what causes premature death in the UK, we can prepare ourselves and avoid the troubling drop that the US has just seen.
Remarkably, researchers in the UK say that 4 in 10 cases of cancer could be prevented by lifestyle changes. This means that we could cut the cancer rate nearly in half simply by living healthier lives. These same researchers point out that well-known healthy lifestyle changes make up a key part of cancer prevention. Simple things like eating healthier, remaining active, cutting back on tobacco and alcohol, and managing your bodyweight will decrease your risk of cancer.
Unsurprisingly, many of the same themes apply to preventing heart disease. Experts recommend eating healthy, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking in order to decrease one’s risk of heart disease.
Exercise and quitting smoking are also important factors for preventing respiratory illness. A pattern is beginning to emerge. It’s clear that a keeping up a good diet, staying active, and cutting back on harmful habits such as drinking and smoking are crucial to preventing many premature deaths in the UK. In other words, people who live healthy lifestyles tend to live longer. What changes do you need to make to your lifestyle? Let’s look at that next.
Knowing is half the battle, but what should we actually do to improve life expectancy in the UK?
Starting with healthy eating, the NHS provides recommendations for a good diet. These include eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, at least five portions a day, basing meals on wholegrains, eating more fish, cutting back on fat and sugar, and drinking between 6 and 8 glasses of water a day.
Exercise is difficult and many of us find hours spent doing repetitive activities at the gym to be tedious. If you’d like to become more engaged in your exercise routine, you might consider trying more outdoors activities such as hiking. Britain has a plethora of great trails, including the famous Coast to Coast Walk. If exercise is tiring for you, we recommend a Myers Cocktail. This cocktail helps to boost your energy through a concentrated mix of valuable nutrients and vitamins. Vitamins B5, B6, and B12 help to keep your energy up while Vitamin C helps to strengthen your immune system so that you’re not forced to take any time off while you fight off the flu.
If you’d like to quit smoking, the NHS provides many free resources to help you down that path. It’s likely to be a difficult journey, but you’ll be so much happier and healthier when you’re through.
The US has suffered an historic drop in life expectancy. In order for the UK to keep going strong we need to stay healthy with a good diet and active lifestyle.