How to live longer: Three dietary changes that could add a decade to your life – new study

Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer

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Longevity in Britain and many of its neighbouring countries saw steady improvements at the turn of the century, owing to significant gains in health care. But bad health trends in some Western countries have seen lifespans falter in recent years. Eschewing unhealthy foods from one’s diet has long been considered the most commonsensical approach to optimal health. A new study, however, has identified three foods that could bring significant gains when added to one’s diet. When coupled, these dietary changes may add up to a decade to one’s life expectancy.

The new study, led by Lars Fadnes of the University of Bergen, in Norway, used existing meta-analyses and data from the Global Burden of Diseases Study, to build a model to build an instant estimation on life-expectancy, based on certain dietary changes.

The findings, published in the medical journal PLOS Medicine, established that younger adults could add a decade to their life by making certain changes.

In older people, the dietary changes brought smaller changes to life expectancy, which were still significant.

The findings suggested that for young adults in the US, a sustained change from a typical Western diet to an optimal diet at the age of 20 would increase life expectancy by more than 10 years for women and men.

READ MORE: How to live longer: Fruits to add to diet for a ‘70% greater chance of survival’ – study

The largest gains in life expectancy were observed among women and men eating more legumes, whole grains and nuts.

But eating less red and processed meat also led to significant improvements.

Researchers also noted that making these dietary changes at the age of 60 could add eight years to the life expectancy of women and 8.8 years for men.

What’s more, when these dietary changes were adopted at the age of 80, both men and women saw an average increase in life expectancy of 3.4 years.

The authors of the study noted: “Understanding the relative health potential of different food groups could enable people to make fearless and significant health gains.

“The Food4HealthLife calculators could be a useful tool for clinicians, policymakers, and lay-people to understand the health impact of dietary choices.”

Fadners added: “Research until now has shown health benefits associated with separate food four or specific diet patterns but given limited information on the health impact of other diet changes.

“Our modelling methodology has bridged this gap.”

Legumes are touted as a healthy alternative to cereals and meats due to their protein, fibre, iron and potassium.

What’s more, previous research had established that snacking on nuts seven times a week could reduce the risk of dying from all causes.

The heart-protective qualities of the food have been attributed to their high concentrations of unsaturated fat, protein, fibre, and essential micronutrients, such as folic acid, calcium, niacin, magnesium and potassium.

Their fat content, which comes in the form of phytosterols, is highly beneficial to help lower cholesterol levels too.

Finally, whole grains are strongly associated with longevity because they lower “bad” cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure – three major markers for disease.

In recent years, the focus in longevity research has shifted from prolonging lives to improving the quality of life till the very end, and all three dietary changes stated above could help ward off ill-health.

There is mounting evidence that foods high in antioxidants, which are abundant in fruits and vegetables, could slow the degeneration of cells too.

A significant quality attributed to these foods is their anti-inflammatory activity, which lessens the risk of certain diseases like cancer and heart disease.

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