Cheers! Moderate Drinking Could Be the Secret to a Longer Life

In one of the largest studies of its kind on aging, researchers are connecting the dots between certain lifestyle factors and healthy aging. (Spoiler alert: A couple drinks per day might help you live longer!)

Senior couple holding rose and red wine glasses at the beachPhoto: Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia

What’s the secret to a long life or, more importantly, what’s the secret to a high quality of life as we age? Those are questions that researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have been studying for the past 15 years. Recently, they presented some of their findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Looking for foods to help give you energy as you age (and it’s harder to come by)?

About the study

The 90+ Study started in 2003 and includes more than 1,600 participants. It’s one of the largest studies of its kind. Every six months, researchers visit participants and collect information about their diet, activities and medical history. They also undergo neurological and neuropsychological testing to evaluate brain health plus cognitive and physical tests to determine well they are functioning.

What they found

So far, the study has found several lifestyle factors that are common among participants that have lived the longest:

  • People who drank a moderate amount of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those that abstained.
  • People who were overweight, but not obese, in their 70s lived slightly longer than normal or underweight participants.
  • Participants that exercised 15-45 minutes per day lived longer than those that did not.
  • Those that had a time-consuming hobby, spending 2 or more hours a day on it, had the biggest increase in longevity compared to those that didn’t.

What it means for you

Keep in mind that these findings are just associations. Drinking alcohol and being slightly overweight didn’t necessarily cause the participants to live longer, but they are important discoveries, nevertheless. They give researchers clues that will help shape future studies to learn more about longevity and quality of life as we age.

That said, if you already drink in moderation, this study suggests it’s not a bad idea to continue. If you don’t, I wouldn’t necessarily start, considering there can be negative health consequences of too much alcohol. The same could be said for drinking coffee. As for regular exercise and having a hobby that you are passionate about—I don’t think anyone could argue the benefits!

So the next time you sit down to do some quilting with a glass of chardonnay at hand, you’ll be happy to know that it just might help you live a longer, healthier life!

Keep your brain fully-charged!
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Peggy Woodward, RDN
Peggy is a Senior Food Editor for Taste of Home. In addition to curating recipes, she writes articles, develops recipes and is our in-house nutrition expert. She studied dietetics at the University of Illinois and completed post-graduate studies at the Medical University of South Carolina to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. Peggy has more than 20 years of experience in the industry. She’s a mom, a foodie and enjoys being active in her rural Wisconsin community.