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Eat, drink and be merry

Two recent studies say that drinking moderately is good for you (and that exercise helps a lot).

The first survey also concludes that it's OK to be overweight as long as you eat your sprouts:

People who adopt four principles for a healthy lifestyle can add as much as 14 years to their lives, a study revealed today.

Researchers found that not smoking, taking exercise, drinking in moderation and eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day can have a huge impact on life expectancy.

Academics at Cambridge University monitored the health of 20,000 men and women aged between 45 and 79 from Norfolk between 1993 and 2006.

The study concluded: "The results strongly suggest that these four achievable lifestyle changes could have a marked improvement on the health of middle-aged and older people, which is particularly important given the ageing population in the UK and other European countries."

The research showed that a person's social class or body mass index (BMI) had no role to play in life expectancy.

Moderate drinkers are at 30% lower risk of heart disease than teetotallers, according to a study of nearly 12,000 people. And those who combine a mild tipple with regular exercise are even less likely to die of the disease. Their risk is between 44% and 50% lower than couch potatoes who abstain from alcohol.

The second survey is specifically about heart disease.

The team behind the 20-year study said that previous research has shown that moderate drinking and exercise both lower the risk of heart disease. But this is the first time scientists have quantified the benefits of both together.

"We've known for years that physical activity is good for you and it prevents heart disease. And the same for alcohol - a small amount of alcohol is good for the heart," said Morten Grønbæk, a professor at the University of Southern Denmark in Copenhagen.

"The new thing about our study is that we look at the combined effects of drinking alcohol and being physically active compared to, for instance, only being physically active and not drinking or drinking but not being physically active ... it's the only study on this issue," Grønbæk said.

His team used data from 11,914 people in Copenhagen. Participants were recruited between 1976 and 1978 and were asked questions about alcohol intake, physical activity and other factors that might influence the results, such as whether they smoked, their education and marital status. Over the next two decades 5,901 of the participants died of a variety of causes and 1,242 developed heart disease.


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If you eat 5 servings of fruit and veg per day, your life will not only be longer, it will seem a *lot* longer.

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