Early dietary changes can extend life by 10 years

A balanced diet with nutritious foods that are processed as little as possible is important for health. It not only ensures better short-term well-being, but can also have a long-term impact on life expectancy.

Whether it’s the brain, heart or intestines, the whole body benefits from a healthy diet. But temptations in the form of fast food, ready meals or snacks are not easy to resist. Nevertheless, a change in diet is worthwhile – it can even significantly prolong life. This was discovered by researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway.

The influence of diet on life expectancy

For their study, the Norwegian research team used existing data and meta-analyses. These are from the Global Burden of Diseases Study. Thanks to this, the scientists were able to develop a model of the life expectancy of American adults and relate it to their dietary habits. They looked at the impact of changing diets to include more whole grains, legumes, nuts, and less red and processed meat.

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Dietary changes can extend life by more than a decade

While developing the model, the researchers came to a remarkable conclusion. A change in diet at a young age appears to have the greatest impact on life expectancy. Women and men who, from the age of 20, ate according to the aforementioned principle could prolong their life by more than ten years. While the life expectancy of women increased by an average of 10.7 years, that of men was even 13 years.1

But even in old age, it is definitely worth rethinking your diet and adjusting it if necessary. For example, people who changed their diet at age 60 might expect to live eight more years on average, and people at age 80 might expect an additional 3.5 years on average.

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Which foods have which effect?

The researchers didn’t just look at the change in diet in its entirety. They also analyzed the impact of each food. It turned out that those reviewed benefited the most from more legumes on their plates. According to the model study, women owe an average of 2.2 additional years of life to these foods, men 2.5. Whole grain products follow closely with 2 and 2.3 additional years respectively. Next come nuts (1.7 and 2, respectively), less red meat and less processed meat (1.6 and 1.9, respectively).

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The study by Lars Fadnes and his team once again underlines the importance of nutrition for health. And that it’s not just about short-term benefits, but life extension. Moreover, research reaffirms that it is never too late to make changes. In this way, the elderly can not only improve their health, but also gain precious years.


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