Ruth's Blog

Living Longer, Living Healthier?

Since the invention of penicillin and modern medicine, life expectancy has continually increased.  Last Thursday, June 12, The Washington Post reported the most recent results on life expectancy from the National Center for Health Statistics, which calculated average life expectancy for Americans at an all-time high of 78.1 years from 2005 – 2006. This is encouraging news that deserves a few comments and questions:

  • Although we are living longer, are we living any healthier? What is the quality of life as the numbers continue to extend?
  • Major causes of death continue to be heart disease and cancer, although a decrease in the incidence of these killers was observed from 2005 to 2006.
  • As Americans are living longer, we are still behind the curve when compared to other industrialized countries. Japan, for example, comes in at age 82.  Life expectancy does vary by age, sex and race – as well as socio-economic factors. See how the United States ranks in the world as well as other countries at: 
  • Moving beyond the statistics: The fact remains that we should continue making positive steps to improve the lifestyle behavior we know will have an impact on longevity–A reduction in tobacco use, blood pressure control, cholesterol reduction, maintaining a healthy weight and  normalizing blood sugar.
  • Healthcare providers, insurance companies, and employers have more and more opportunities to offer, design and expand new healthy living programs and incentives for people, that can help promote health, prevent disease and generally reduce risk. Registered dietitians and wellness experts will continue to play an ever increasing role in assisting with the development, delivery and marketing of such programs.
  • With an ever growing population of Americans living longer, pharmaceutical manufacturers continuing to develop life-extending drugs, not to mention healthcare costs and insurance premiums escalating, the major question on the horizon is how do we find reasonable solutions?  Many industry professionals and politicians agree that the answers to stemming a future healthcare crisis will involve all parties coming together—government, educators, medical providers, insurance companies, and patients. There is no “silver bullet” solution for the American healthcare concern, as it is an extremly complicated issue. However, what’s being discussed in many circles currently is a multi-faceted approach designed to promote health and prevent disease–with all these parties coming together in a cooperative manner.  What we will probably be seeing is all parties making compromises–insurance companies, providers, and patients included. One thing that’s certain–the food and nutrition industries will play an ever more important role in the mix as it all plays out.

            Ruth’s Recommendations–Seven Life Extension Actions:

1.      Relax and reduce the response to stress

2.     Choose a balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, colorful fruits & vegetables, lean  meats, poultry, low-fat dairy, seafood and dried beans/legumes. Moderate alcohol intake.

3.      Aim for 7 -8 hours of restful sleep every night.

4.      Reach for a regular routine of physical activities that are enjoyable and relaxing.

5.      Take a balanced approach to life – Family, work, fitness, healthy eating and social activities can all fit. 

6.      Socialize! An active social life has been shown to delay memory loss

7.      Take time to chuckle–Laugher is a powerful prescription!

           Good health to you,


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