Replacing typical Western diet with plant-based can add 13 years to life

2022-02-10 18:38:36
Replacing typical Western diet with plant-based can add 13 years to life

Changing a typical Western diet to a plant-based eating plan could add up to 13 years to your life, especially if you start when you are young, according to a newly published study.

The study was conducted in Norway and published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine. It used existing data from the Global Burden of Disease study, a database that tracks deaths, diseases and injuries in 204 countries and territories around the world.

The study created a model of what might happen to a man or woman's longevity if they replaced a "typical Western diet" focused on red meat and processed foods with an "optimized diet" focused on eating less red and processed meat and more fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts.

If a woman began eating optimally at age 20, she could increase her lifespan by just over 10 years. A man eating the healthier diet from age 20 could add 13 years to his life.

Older adults can also benefit from the healthier diet, but less than younger adults, the study said. By starting at age 60, a woman could still increase her lifespan by eight years. Men starting a healthier diet at age 60 might add nearly nine years to their lives.

A plant-based eating style could even benefit 80-year-olds, the study said: Men and women at that age could gain about 3.5 years of extra life from dietary changes.

Replacing red and processed meats with lean poultry, fish and plant proteins is one way to improve a diet quickly, experts say.

Plant proteins include soybeans (edamame), chickpeas, lentils and other legumes, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, and whole grains like quinoa. Some vegetables, like broccoli, also contain higher levels of protein.

Nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains contain more than just protein. They include healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidant "phytochemicals" that have been associated with lower risk of chronic diseases.

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