In recent years, we can hear more and more about the negative impact of meat consumption on the planet. Research shows that a plant-based diet is not only beneficial for the planet, but can also significantly extend life expectancy. A new study was published in PLOS Medicine. According to this study, it is appropriate to give preference to plants, fish, legumes and whole grains. On the contrary, it is advisable to avoid red meat and processed foods. This can extend the life of up to 13 years.
Sudden dietary change and its effect on life expectancy
“A sustained dietary change may give substantial health gains for people of all ages both for optimized and feasible changes,” the study authors wrote.
Surveys show that the most healthy is the Mediterranean diet, which is based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, seafood, poultry and dairy products. People who consume this diet usually have a longer life expectancy.
The Norwegian research team addressed the question of what would happen if a person suddenly changed their eating habits. Computer models show that if a woman started eating a healthy diet at the age of 20, her life would be extended by about 10 years. If a man at the age of 20 suddenly changed his eating habits, his life could be extended by up to 13 years.
A change of diet pays off at any age
Some people think that it is no longer worth changing their eating habits at a later age. The study showed that this is not true. When a 60-year-old man focuses on an optimized diet, he can extend his life by up to 9 years, while a woman by up to 8 years. When you start with an optimized diet at the age of 80, it can extend your life expectancy by about 3.5 years. Researchers have unveiled a tool called Food4HealthyLife. Anyone can use this tool to calculate how a change in diet will affect their life expectancy. The findings are not necessarily surprising.
“The notion that improving diet quality would reduce the risk of chronic disease and premature death is long established, and it only stands to reason that less chronic disease and premature death means more life expectancy,” Dr. David Katz, a nutrition and lifestyle medicine expert who was not involved in the research, told CNN.
You can adjust your eating habits just a little
Not everyone likes the idea of completely changing their eating habits. The researchers also envisioned a model in which people could easily adjust their eating habits and incorporate more plant foods into their regular diet. Such an adjustment of the diet would prolong the life of a twenty-year-old man by about 7.3 years, for a woman it would be about 6.2 years. This means that the more plant foods you have in your diet, the better.
“I think when people hear plant-based diet or they hear a definition they get very intimidated. This does not have to be an all-in thing,” ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, who was not part of the research, told Good Morning America Wednesday, as Yahoo News reported. “You can make small changes with, let’s say, a meatless Monday or just one meal of every day.”
The transition to a plant-based diet will help not only the body but also the planet. A meat diet significantly increases the use of land, water, energy and also creates more pollution.
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