How to Add Years to Your Life Expectancy

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How to Add Years to Your Life Expectancy

Jim Windell

            We all know we should eat a healthy diet. And most of us are well aware that adding more fruits and vegetables to our meals is very beneficial.

But what if you wanted to live longer. And what if you hoped to increase your  life span by a whole decade?

           How could you do that?

           It’s simple, says a new study out of the University of Bergen in Norway. Just change your diet.

           In the new study, researchers used existing meta-analyses and data from the Global Burden of Diseases study to build a model that enables the instant estimation of the effect on life expectancy of a range of dietary changes.

           The study to be published on February 8, 2022, in PLOS Medicine and led by Lars Fadnes of the University of Bergen, Norway, and his colleagues, a new model for predicting gains to life expectancy is provided.

           The model suggests that for the average American it would be necessary to change his or her diet from a typical Western diet to an optimized diet that includes more legumes, whole grains and nuts, and less red and processed meat.

           Specifically, Fadnes and his associates offer the following advice and predictions:

              • For young adults in the U.S., the model estimates that a sustained change from a typical Western diet to the optimal diet beginning at age 20 would increase their  life expectancy by more than a decade for both women and men.

              • By eating more legumes, women could increase their life on average  by 2.2 years; for men, it would be 2.5 years.

             • Women would add 2.0 years by eating more whole grains; men would add 2.3 years.

             • By eating more nuts, the life expectancy of men could increase 2.0 years; for women, it would an extra 1.7 years.

             • Decreasing the amount of red meat would add 1.6 years for women; and it would add 1.9 years for men.

             •  Eating less processed meat could mean an additional 1.9 years for males; and 1.6 years for  females.

           However, even if you wait to change your diet to the optimized diet at age 60 years, women could still gain an additional 8 years, and for men it would mean as much as an 8.8 span of years.

           And, surprisingly, if you want until age 80 to improve your diet, it could still result in an extra 3.4 years for both females and males.

           According to lead author Fadnes, “Understanding the relative health potential of different food groups could enable people to make feasible and significant health gains. The Food4HealthyLife calculator could be a useful tool for clinicians, policy makers, and lay-people to understand the health impact of dietary choices.”

           Furthermore, Fadnes adds, “Research until now have shown health benefits associated with separate food group or specific diet patterns but given limited information on the health impact of other diet changes. Our modeling methodology has bridged this gap.”

           And you can see the impact for yourself by using the new model, which is available as an online calculator. The publicly available online tool is called the Food4HealthyLife calculator and can be found here

            Read the original article by using this reference:

Fadnes LT, Økland J-M, Haaland ØA, Johansson KA (2022) Estimating impact of food choices on life expectancy: A modeling study. PLoS Med 19(2): e1003889

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