#280 Harvard Scientists Reveal 5 Life Extending Hacks: Your Best Lifestyle for Longevity

Harvard Scientists Reveal 5 Life Extending Hacks: Your Best Lifestyle for Longevity

Wouldn’t you like to know the real secret to a long and healthy life?  Based on the latest longevity study, Harvard researchers found five easy life-extending hacks that could get you to age 93.  In this article, I’ll share the very best lifestyle for longevity.

What Does it Take to Get to Age 90?

The human body is genetically programmed to make it to 90.  As long as we don’t screw it up, 90 is within reach for most people.  If you can get a few simple, healthy lifestyle habits down, then the odds are that you will thwart a fatal cancer or heart condition.  Indeed, if you can stave off heart disease and cancer then cruising past 90 should be a breeze.

The Latest Longevity Study

In search of life’s Holy Grail, Harvard researchers recently revealed five simple life-extending health hacks. These five hacks are all you need to know to find your best lifestyle for longevity.

As part of this new study, Harvard researchers painstakingly dissected the medical records of 123,219 people. With an average of 34 years of medical records at their disposal, they were able to deconstruct the five secrets to a life free of heart problems, cancer, or a premature death.

When it comes to beating heart disease, these five health hacks will slash your heart disease risk by 72%!  If a 72% reduction of death from heart disease isn’t compelling enough, these five hacks will also drop your cancer risk by 52%!

As you will likely be free of heart disease and cancer, this study shows that for women you will get 14 bonus years of life allowing you to reach 93.  For men, these same five health hacks predict 12 bonus years of life achieving an age of 88.

5 Life-Extending Hacks

Without keeping you in suspense any longer, here are the five longevity hacks to find your best lifestyle for longevity.

1.  Breathe Clean Air

Okay, nothing new here. While this study specifically looked at smoking, countless other studies have linked any form of air pollution to heart disease, cancer, and a shortened life.  The message is simple.  Make clean breathing a must.

In addition to not smoking, you also don’t allow anyone to smoke around you.  The same goes for electronic cigarettes.

Besides smoking, air pollution can be a huge problem.  Indeed, studies show that air pollution may rob you of up to 5.5 years of life!  And when it comes to air pollution, indoor air quality is generally much worse than anything you may encounter outside of your home.   For indoor air pollution, studies show that even breathing the stench of smoke on the clothes of smokers puts you at risk.

What can you do?  Besides banning cigarettes in your home, don’t go anywhere near where people are smoking.  If air pollution is bad, then don’t exercise outside.  For your home, invest in many indoor plants and be sure to also buy a HEPA filter.  These filters are cheap and can be very effective at scrubbing the indoor air of pollutants.

2. Keep Your BMI Between 19 and 25

I’m guessing that if you are like most people, this will be the most challenging longevity hack.  Food manufacturers have scientifically designed their fake foods to get you hooked, steal your money, and make you gain weight.

Not quite sure what your body mass index (BMI) is?  Here is the link to find out. If you are like most people, you are probably in shock as to how high your BMI is.  The natural inclination is to say the BMI system is wrong, bogus, or a terrible measure of health.

Yes, there are limitations.  No system is perfect.  For example, it doesn’t account for excessive muscle mass.  Thus, if you are faithfully doing hardcore strength training, your BMI measurement won’t be accurate.

Despite the limitations, BMI is a proven predictor of longevity within a population of people.  And when it comes to living a long life, studies show that the BMI sweet spot seems to be 20 to 25.

Even if you have battled weight all your life, it is easy for most people to maintain a BMI below 25. In fact, after working with thousands of patients, you only need to remember three things when it comes to optimizing your weight – No sugar, no flour, and nothing after 7 PM.

No sugar and no flour are really just the same things.  Flour, whether it comes from wheat, rice, corn, etc. turns instantly to sugar minutes after swallowing it down.  Sugar and flour will throw off your metabolism, mess up your insulin sensitivity, and keep you hungry all day long.  Unless you are exercising for hours and hours every day, you can’t eat this stuff long-term and expect to stay lean.

Likewise, late night eating is another sure fire way to thwart your body’s natural metabolism.  To optimize metabolism and insulin sensitivity, you need a period of time without food.  And the easiest way to accomplish this goal is to stop eating by 7 PM assuming that you don’t work nights.

3. At Least 30 Minutes of Exercise Every Day

With regards to this Harvard study, they don’t give you any days off. You have to be active every day. No excuses.

What you do for exercise doesn’t matter. My only rule is that you enjoy doing it because if you don’t, it will never stick. That daily dose of physical activity can be anything provided you break a sweat and get your heart rate up.

A quick disclaimer…if you haven’t been exercising regularly, please speak with your physician first before adopting this longevity hack or, for that matter, any other hack mentioned in this article.

4. Keep Alcohol Intake in Check

In this study, Harvard researchers only looked at those with moderate levels of alcohol intake.  Interestingly, those who drank the least seemed to live the longest.

Alcohol and longevity is a difficult question to answer.  On one hand, you have some studies that claim moderate alcohol consumption has life-extending properties.  However, other studies claim this research is bogus because they didn’t account for the abstainer bias.

And then you have the American Institute for cancer research which claims that there is no safe level of alcohol that can be consumed.  Even for the heart condition, atrial fibrillation, studies also show that there is no safe level of alcohol.

If you chose to drink, my advice would be to look for the minimally effective dose that you need.  If your BMI runs high, minimizing alcohol intake will help you to optimize your weight as alcohol packs a big sugar punch.

5. Eat a Healthy Diet

Despite evidence to the contrary, 75% of Americans think they are eating a healthy diet.  Just so there is no confusion, eating a healthy diet is really quite simple.  Eat real food.

If there is an ingredient list, it probably isn’t real food.  Likewise, if it comes in a box, can, or jar it also probably isn’t real food.  Real food looks like something you would grow in your garden or bring back from a hunt.

If you can just do these three things, then you are 90% of the way to a healthy diet.

1.  Don’t eat sugar. (This includes fruit juice, honey, maple syrup, etc.)

2. Don’t eat flour.  (Flour, whether it be from wheat, rice, corn, or potatoes, is still just sugar)

3. Eat vegetables with every meal. (And by every meal I also mean breakfast!)

Of course, I am not saying that vegetables should be the only thing in your diet.  Far from it.  It is just that people struggle with vegetables.  If you can get the vegetable thing right then the rest of the diet usually falls in line.

The Big Picture

If you want a life free of heart disease, cancer, and an early death it comes down to five simple health hacks.  Breathe the clean air, keep your BMI between 19 and 25, exercise daily, minimize alcohol, and eat real food.  Simply put, this is the best lifestyle for longevity!

What are your tips and tricks for optimizing these five health hacks? Please leave your thoughts and questions below. This comment section will be open for 30 days during which time I will respond to every question posted.

Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.

  1. When you mention 2-3 servings of fruit and vegetables with every meal is that of each fruit and vegetables or together? For example 1 apple 1 orange plus spinach and tomatoes or 1 orange on a spinach salad?

    Also any tips on achieving this for a person following a low FODMAP diet due to IBS symptoms??

    • Hi Renee,

      Great question. I encourage my patients to eat vegetables with every meal. The reason why I focus on vegetables is that they have the most nutritional benefit and they are the hardest to eat (usually people don’t have any problems with fruit).

      Yes, with IBS you may be limited to things you can eat. The best vegetables are the cruciferous vegetables and the green leafy vegetables. I would focus on as many of these vegetables that you can tolerate. Ideally, you can work in a cruciferous vegetable and/or green leafy vegetable with each meal.

      Hope this helps!


  2. Your description of this study is inaccurate.
    With respect to alcohol consumption the authors counted “moderate alcohol consumption” as the healthy factor not “minimal alcohol consumption” as you state above.

    Here is the exact text:
    We defined low-risk alcohol consumption as moderate alcohol consumption, for example, 5 to 15 g/d for women and 5 to 30 g/d for men

  3. Where is mental side, i.e, attitude, family,friends,relationship, anger management, sleep, passion, gratitude, being in the present, “smelling the roses”?

    • Hi Ken,

      Great points! All of these were missing in this study…as you probably know, we cover these key points to health, happiness, and longevity in our book, The Longevity Plan. Sadly, there was no mention of these in this study.

      Thanks for reading!


  4. I have read your book and found it a great help in adding to my experience of eating a veg diet for 40 years, found it at the local library cost me $30 at the library as
    my new puppy got hold of it! Have followed a Macrobiotic way of eating friends and I were wondering if it is better to soak our brown rice before pressure cooking it, and if the people in the Longevity village soaked their rice before cooking it. So glad you found your way back to the Village.I am now 78 have half an acre garden all flowers and veg, and lots of animals.the dogs eat what I eat not the cats, thankyou Claire.

    • Hi Claire,

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! So sorry to hear the dog got the book…

      To answer your question, In the Longevity Village, they soaked/rinsed their rice before cooking.

      All the best,


  5. Meat is more nutrient dense than vegetables, so no reason to eat vegetables. Certainly no proof that eating them is more beneficial than meat.

    • There’s plenty of proof that a diet low in meat and high in vegetables is healthier. But, go ahead, continue to ignore it. It’s certainly within your rights to eat whatever you want.

    • Hi Don,

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I probably wasn’t as clear as I could have been in this article. I am not saying that vegetables should be the only thing in your diet.  Far from it.  It is just that most people struggle to get enough vegetables for optimal health and nutrition.  If you can get the vegetable thing right then the rest of the diet usually is optimized. Also, filling up on vegetables has been shown in countless studies to keep weight in check.

      All the best,