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March 17, 2022 •

Add Years to Your Life

Transitioning to a healthy diet leads to impressive gains in life expectancy (LE). That was the uplifting conclusion from a new evaluation published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

For this report, scientists used existing meta-analysis data along with data from the prestigious Global Burden of Disease Study. Using this large body of data, the scientists created a computer model that allows for an instant estimation of the impact on LE of a broad range of specific diet changes, such as eating more nuts. 

The results? For young adults in the US, transitioning from a typical American diet to an optimal diet would offer up to an additional 10 years of life! What’s more, there were significant LE benefits for all ages, with an 80 year old gaining up to an average of 3.4 years of additional LE. It is never too late to benefit from the anti-aging effects of a healthier diet.

Of all the various healthy foods, the modeling showed that the greatest gains in LE come from eating more legumes, more whole grains, more nuts, and less red and processed meats, in that order.

PLOS Medicine, 2022; 19 (2): e1003889 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003889