Can a healthy diet increase your lifespan? According to recent research, this is most likely. We’ve known for years that diets high in healthy fats (like olive oil and nuts), vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (from foods like vegetables, fruits, and aromatic herbs) naturally prolong life. This is the same type of diet found in people living in the “blue zone,” who are expected to live more than 100 years.
How many years can healthy eating add to your life?
A recent study published in PLOS Medicine and conducted by Norwegian researchers looked at dietary changes to increase lifespan. The study found that a diet rich in nutrients similar to the “Mediterranean diet,” or the Blue Zone diet, can extend life by 8 to 13 years, depending on age.
The findings are based on a model the researchers built using data from the Global Burden of Disease Study, which included thousands of participants from 204 countries. The study’s models were used to predict what would happen to a person’s body and lifespan if they switched from a highly processed “standard Western diet” to a healthier diet that focused on whole foods.
The types of dietary changes that were found to have the greatest impact on longevity included reducing the consumption of red meat, ultra-processed foods and sugary foods in favor of eating more vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, fish and nuts. Is.
According to the results of the study, here are some key findings about diets that extend people’s lives:
The sooner a person adopts a healthy diet, the better. For example, if a woman starts following a diet rich in “optimal” nutrients around the age of 20, she could potentially add about 10 years to her life.
Men start benefiting even more by giving up junk food and eating better. The study found that if a man starts eating better at age 20, he can add about 13 years to his lifespan.
– If young adults ate better, but not better, they could still live about six to seven years longer.
While it is ideal to have a balanced and unprocessed diet throughout life, it is never too late to start. Study results showed that even if older adults didn’t start following a Mediterranean diet until age 60, they could increase their life expectancy by eight to nine years.
Even people in their 80s who started eating less meat and more plant protein and other nutritious foods could benefit from an increase in life expectancy of more than three years.
What does it mean
A healthy diet can not only promote longevity, it can also improve your quality of life by reducing your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes and dementia. If you’re currently following a standard Western diet, chances are your diet isn’t optimal and you can afford to make some changes.
A concrete example: Only 10% of Western adults consume the recommended daily amount (two to three servings of each) of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Although beans/legumes are highly recommended due to their benefits for gut health, heart health and weight management, many people do not consume legumes of any kind on a regular basis. Another problem is that 95% of Westerners fail to meet the goal of eating enough whole grains versus refined grains. It is recommended that at least half of your cereals be 100% whole grains, which are high in fiber and other essential nutrients.
Meat consumption is another problem in Western countries.
Countries with the highest living standards consume the most meat, but eating too much meat (especially red meat and processed meats) is linked to health problems such as type 1 diabetes. 2, coronary heart disease, stroke, and some cancers, including colorectal cancer.
tips for longevity diet
What should I eat to prolong my life? If you want to add eight to twelve years to your life, follow a predominantly Mediterranean-inspired diet. The sooner you do it, the better it will be for your health, including old age.
Here are some tips for eating in a way that will prolong your lifespan:
In addition to eating oily fish, nuts and seeds, use good quality olive oil as your main cooking oil. Limit refined vegetable oils, most butters and margarines. Avoid foods with hydrogenated and trans fats.
Eat foods rich in antioxidants, such as fresh vegetables, leafy greens, peppers, onions, garlic, berries, herbs and spices.
Eat plenty of fiber, especially in vegetables, fruits, 100% whole grains, legumes and nuts.
Limit your intake of red meat and processed meats, especially traditional beef, hot dogs, salami, cured meats and deli meats.
– Include more plant-based protein in your diet, such as legumes (peas, chickpeas and lentils), whole grains (quinoa, oats and buckwheat), nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds and pumpkin , pistachios).
Avoid foods with added sugar, such as desserts, cereals, sugary dairy products and sodas. Instead, eat fruit, a little raw honey or dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Consume dairy products in moderation, especially if they cause you digestive problems. To get the most benefits, opt for unsweetened yogurt and kefir, as well as cheeses aged in small batches.
Assessing the impact of food choices on life expectancy: a modeling study
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