Changing Your Diet Could Add Up to a Decade to Life Expectancy – Neuroscience News

Summary: Young adults could add more than a decade to their life expectancy by switching from a Western diet to one that includes more nuts, legumes and whole grains, and by cutting back on red or processed meats.

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A young adult in the US could add more than a decade to their life expectancy by changing their diet from a typical Western diet to an optimized diet that includes more legumes, whole grains and nuts, and less red and processed meat, according to a new study. study publication February 8the in PLOS Medicine by Lars Fadnes of the University of Bergen, Norway, and colleagues.

For older people, the anticipated gains in life expectancy from such dietary changes would be smaller but still substantial.

Food is critical to health, and globally, dietary risk factors are estimated to cause 11 million deaths and 255 million disability-adjusted life years annually. In the new study, the researchers used existing meta-analyses and data from the Global Burden of Diseases study to build a model that allows instant estimation of the effect on life expectancy (LE) of a variety of dietary changes.

The model is now also available as a publicly available online tool called the Food4HealthyLife calculator (https://food4healthylife.org/).

For young adults in the United States, the model estimates that a sustained switch from a typical Western diet to the optimal diet starting at age 20 years would increase LE by more than a decade for women (10.7 [uncertainty interval 5.9-14.1] years) and men (13.0 [6.9-17.3] years).

The greatest gains in years of LE would be achieved by eating more legumes (women: 2.2 [1.0-3.4]; males: 2.5 [1.1-3.9]), plus whole grains (women: 2.0 [0.7-3.3]; males: 2.3 [0.8-3.8]), and more nuts (females: 1.7 [0.8-2.7]; males: 2.0 [1.0-3.0]), less red meat (females: 1.6 [0.7-2.5]; males: 1.9 [0.8-3.0]) and less processed meat (females: 1.6 [0.7-2.5]; males: 1.9 [0.8-3.0]).

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A young adult in the US could add more than a decade to their life expectancy by changing their diet from a typical Western diet to an optimized diet that includes more legumes, whole grains and nuts, and less red and processed meat. The image is in the public domain

Switching from a typical diet to the optimized diet at age 60 could still increase LE by 8.0 (4.8-11.2) years for women and 8.8 (5.2-12.5) years for men , and people in their 80s could gain 3.4 years (women). : 2.1-4.7 and males: 2.1-4.8) of said changes in diet.

“Understanding the relative health potential of different food groups could enable people to achieve feasible and significant health benefits,” say the authors. “The Food4HealthyLife calculator could be a useful tool for clinicians, policymakers and laymen to understand the health impact of dietary choices.”

Adds Fadnes: “So far, research has shown health benefits associated with separate food groups or specific dietary patterns, but provides limited information on the health impact of other dietary changes. Our modeling methodology has closed this gap.”

About this research news on diet and life expectancy

Author: Claire Turner
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Contact: Claire Turner – PLOS
Image: The image is in the public domain.

original research: Open access.
Estimating the impact of food choices on life expectancy: a modeling study” by Lars Fadnes et al. PLOS Medicine


Abstract

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Estimating the impact of food choices on life expectancy: a modeling study

Bottom

Interpreting and using nutrition research findings can be challenging for clinicians, policymakers, and even researchers. To make better dietary decisions, innovative methods that integrate the best evidence are needed. We have developed a decision support model that predicts how dietary choices affect life expectancy (LE).

Methods and findings

Based on meta-analysis and data from the Global Burden of Disease study (2019), we used life table methodology to estimate how LE changes with sustained changes in intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, refined grains, nuts, legumes, fish, eggs, milk/dairy, red meat, processed meat, and sugary drinks.

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We present estimates (with 95% uncertainty intervals [95% UIs]) for an optimized diet and a feasibility approach diet. An optimal diet had a substantially higher intake than a typical diet of whole grains, legumes, fish, fruits, vegetables, and included a handful of nuts, while reducing red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and refined grains. A feasibility approach diet was a midpoint between an optimal and a typical Western diet. A sustained switch from a typical Western diet to the optimal diet beginning in the early 20s would increase LE by more than a decade for women in the United States (10.7 [95% UI 8.4 to 12.3] years) and men (13.0 [95% UI 9.4 to 14.3] years).

The biggest gains would come from eating more legumes (women: 2.2 [95% UI 1.1 to 3.4]; males: 2.5 [95% UI 1.1 to 3.9]), whole grains (women: 2.0 [95% UI 1.3 to 2.7]; males: 2.3 [95% UI 1.6 to 3.0]) and nuts (females: 1.7 [95% UI 1.5 to 2.0]; males: 2.0 [95% UI 1.7 to 2.3]), and less red meat (females: 1.6 [95% UI 1.5 to 1.8]; males: 1.9 [95% UI 1.7 to 2.1]) and processed meat (females: 1.6 [95% UI 1.5 to 1.8]; males: 1.9 [95% UI 1.7 to 2.1]). Switching from a typical diet to the optimized diet at age 60 years would increase LE by 8.0 (95% IU 6.2 to 9.3) years for women and 8.8 (95% IU 6.8 to 10, 0) years for men, and people aged 80 years gained 3.4 years (95% UI women: 2.6 to 3.8/men: 2.7 to 3.9). Switching from the typical diet to the feasibility approach would increase LE by 6.2 (95% IU 3.5 to 8.1) years for 20-year-old women in the United States and 7.3 (95% IU 4.7 to 9.5) years for men. With NutriGrade, the overall quality of the evidence was assessed as moderate.

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The methodology provides population estimates under given assumptions and is not intended to be an individualized forecast, with study limitations including uncertainty about the time to achieve full effects, the effect of eggs, white meat and oils, individual variation in protective and risk factors, uncertainties for future development of medical treatments; and lifestyle changes.

Conclusions

Sustained dietary change can provide substantial health benefits for people of all ages, for both optimized and feasible changes. Gains are predicted to be greater the earlier in life dietary changes are initiated. The Food4HealthyLife calculator that we provide online could be useful for clinicians, policymakers, and laymen to understand the health impact of dietary choices.

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