While it's no secret that many health experts believe diet and exercise are the keys to living a healthy life, a new study out of Germany claims that making four lifestyle changes can help reduce the risk of major chronic illness by much more than previously thought.
According to the seven-year-plus study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who do not smoke, have a body mass index lower than 30, exercise for at least three-and-a-half hours each week and eat a healthy diet with many fruits, vegetables and whole-grain bread can reduce the risk of chronic illness like diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancer by an average of nearly 80 percent.
Before his new show, "The Dr. Oz Show," gets started in September, Dr. Mehmet Oz dropped by "Good Morning America" to help explain what the study can mean for you and how you can make small changes in your life that may drastically improve your health.
The most important of these four changes, according to Oz, is to quit smoking. According to the American Heart Assocation, smoking accounts for more than 440,000 deaths every year.
Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing several chronic disorders, including cancer, heart disease and stroke, according to the AHA.
"It's really hard to do it by yourself," Oz said. "Get some help."
Web sites like the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute allow users to quickly calculate their body mass index to see how it compares with the study's ideal BMI of under 30.
In order to help improve your body mass index, Oz suggests cutting out 100 calories from your daily diet and sticking to a sustainable weight loss program.
"We're not looking for people with a little extra weight on board," Oz emphasized, but rather those whose weight is putting their health in danger.
The study suggests getting in at least 3.5 hours of exercise every week, or about half an hour every day.
According to Oz, that doesn't mean Americans should sit around all day and then work out hard for half an hour, but rather you should incorporate more movement into every day.
Oz suggested putting a stationary bike in front of the television or banning elevators from your life. Even fidgeting can help.
"I don't think you should put exercise in at the end of the day," he said. "Make it part of your day-to-day lives."
Thousands of Americans struggle every year with starting and maintaining a diet, but according to Oz, you shouldn't focus on excluding the things you want from your diet, but rather including better foods.
"It's not, 'I shouldn't have a brownie,'" Oz said. "It's, 'I should have more leafy greens.'"
By making sure you eat the healthy foods, you'll be full enough so you'd be less likely to eat the foods that are not as good for you.
Check out the Dr. Oz-approved list of healthy foods below before you head to the supermarket to make sure your family is eating healthy.
All servings per person. Serving size is six to eight ounces.
7 Servings Whole Grain
whole wheat bread
whole grain cereal
whole wheat pasta
4 Servings Fruit
1/2 cup OJ
5 Servings Green Leafy Veggies
5 broccoli florets
1 cup arugula
1 cup spinach
1 cup broccoli rabe
1 cup mixed salad greens
Less Than 2 Servings Lean Meat
6-8 oz. ground chuck or beef tenderloin
handful of almonds, unsalted