We really love research that makes it sound like our vices are actually good for us. Any time a study is published even suggesting that we can eat or drink something we love without guilt makes international headlines.
The latest news comes from the University of California at Irvine where scientists have found a correlation between moderate amounts of alcohol and coffee consumption and living a longer life.
Of course, finding a correlation means it could be a coincidence. It’s not the same as causal evidence, which shows a direct connection between a behavior and a health outcome. That’s an important distinction. Still, we’ll take all the evidence we can get!
So how did researchers come to this conclusion?
They started by analyzing data collected by a project called The 90+ Study. This began in 2003 and used a large retirement community in Orange County, California to study behavior that might have an effect on living to (and beyond) the age of 90. About 1,600 people have enrolled in the study and this new research is based on their reported habits.
The results of the UC-Irvine study were shared at one of the largest scientific conferences in the world (The American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS) earlier this year.
Lead researcher and neurologist Dr. Claudia Kawas told the audience that those who consumed approximately two glasses of beer or wine a day were 18% less likely to experience premature death. Better yet, senior citizens who were a couple of pounds overweight also lived longer. And to round off the good news, those who drank two cups of coffee a day were 10% less likely to die early.
Kawas told conference attendees:
“I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity.”
Of course, this is research done on life-long coffee and alcohol drinkers who drank in moderation and likely built up a tolerance over a span of 90 years. It certainly doesn’t mean that if you don’t drink coffee or alcohol now that you should start with 2 glasses or cups a day today!
It’s important to note that the study didn’t just look at people who lived to be 90 or older, but paid close attention to those who still had a high quality of life at this age.
Of course, the study also found close correlations between living well at 90+ and consistent moderate exercise as well. Those who lived longer got 15 to 45 minutes of physical activity every day.
And keeping the brain in top shape through hobbies and socializing was also important. The Independent reports that “Those who spent two hours a day on a hobby were 21% less likely to pass away prematurely.”
Of course, living well at 90 probably has a lot to do with your genetics, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make improvements in your environment to give yourself the upper hand.
Studies of longevity are extremely popular – after all, nearly everyone wants to live a longer, healthier life. We invest billions of dollars in anti-aging products, but in the end, the solution may be cheaper and easier than we think.
For those who already enjoy their daily coffee or nightcap (in moderation, of course) it appears that there’s no reason to quit (unless, of course, your doctor instructs you to).
Just remember that drinking a beer isn’t a guaranteed way to improve your health. But it may be part of a happy, healthy lifestyle that keeps you satisfied, so long as you’re burning off some of those calories as well.
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Source: Detroit Free Press