As the future of the planet is played out on our board, so is our longevity. For the first time, researchers have calculated how many years of life can be gained depending on the diet followed. Conclusion: A 20-year-old European can extend his life expectancy by more than ten years by eating less red meat and more plant-based foods. And even at age 80, adopting a healthier diet leads to longer life, according to the study. explanation.
Five fruits and vegetables a day! Everyone has heard this nutritional advice. And rightly so, the content of our plates has a major impact on our health, all the more beneficial because it is plant-based and unprocessed. For the first time, Norwegian researchers wanted to accurately quantify the impact of changes in eating habits on quality of life, Franceinfo reports. Their study has just been published in the journal PLOS Medicine.
A plant-based diet contributes to longevity
To establish their estimates, the four researchers defined three types of diets:
- A “western” type of diet with a high intake of meat, sugar and refined grains. This is still the majority in Europe, China and the United States.
- An intermediate diet that contains more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and less red meat, processed meats and sugary drinks.
- An “optimal” diet in which the proportion of plants is increased and where red meat and processed meats are excluded.
The team of scientists then based their calculations on data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD), a global epidemiological research program at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle in the United States. By comparing this data with other meta-analyses, projections could be made for populations in the United States, China and Europe, with similar results. And these are spectacular: A 20-year-old European who follows the “optimal” diet can get up to 13 years of life expectancy. For a 20-year-old European, the gain is 10 years on the same diet. The intermediate regimen increases life expectancy by 7 years for men and 5 years for women.
For example, the researchers evaluated in detail that increasing the daily ration of legumes to 200 grams per day would allow a 20-year-old to live two years longer. Same observation for whole grains and nuts.
Even at age 80, these dietary changes have effects
If these dietary changes aren’t carried over into the 1920s, don’t panic! Norwegian researchers have shown that adopting a healthier diet has a beneficial effect on quality of life throughout life. If a European at the age of 40 switches from his classic Western diet to the “optimal” diet, he can gain an extra six years of life. It will be five for a 40-year-old European. At age 60, the gain is nine years for men and eight years for women. Finally, people over 80 who follow the optimal diet can expect their lives to be extended by three years (male and female combined).
“Assuming zero fruit and vegetable consumption, with every added serving, we have a health benefit”says Mathilde Touvier, director of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team (EREN), quoted by Top Santé.
For the planet or for your health, it’s never too late to change your eating habits.