It is the dream of all human beings to extend the duration of their life, and to do so while also guaranteeing health of body and mind. And perhaps today we have found our philosopher's stone, capable of producing what alchemists call the elixir of life, a legendary potion capable of counteracting aging. The strength is that this philosopher's stone is something that we are already using in everyday life, often giving little importance to it, nutrition! In fact, changing our diet and adopting a healthy and varied diet far from the Western model can add even more than ten years of life, of a healthy life. This emerges from a very recent and fascinating research, published in the journal PLoS Medicine by a group of Norwegian scientists (Fadnes et al, PLoS Medicine, Feb 2022).
Diet and life expectancy
It is well known that what we eat can help keep diseases away and prolong life expectancy. In fact, in recent years, numerous scientific studies have been published that have dealt with studying the benefits of a healthy and varied diet on our health. However, until now it has never been possible to answer the question of how much a healthy diet can actually extend life. Well, the scientists of the study we are talking about today managed to answer this question.
How to add more than 10 years of life
Based on data provided by a large study, the Global Burden of Diseases Study, which involved 145 countries and 3,600 researchers, scientists have developed a model capable of predicting changes in expectation of life following changes in diet. What emerged was that moving from a Western-style diet, rich in fats, sugars and processed foods, to a healthy diet can, in young people, lead to an increase in life expectancy of more than 10 years. But significant benefits have been observed at all ages. At the age of 60, changing your diet for a healthier diet leads, on average, to an 8-year extension of life expectancy. And it's never too late. In fact, even when a healthy diet is adopted at the age of 80, there is an increase in life expectancy of almost 4 years.
What does a healthy diet include
But what is meant by a healthy diet? The most significant improvements were observed by firstly increasing the consumption of legumes, then of whole grains and then of dried fruit. At the same time, according to the study, those with a longer life expectancy had also reduced the consumption of red and processed meat. In addition to this, a healthy diet should include, according to the study, a regular intake of fruit, vegetables and fish and should limit the intake of refined grains and sugary drinks. The study is still in its infancy and further research will follow to investigate the role of eggs, vegetable oils and white meat. At the moment, however, the study has certainly been able to give important indications to follow in everyday life.