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A recent study shows that adopting a more nutritious diet and maintaining it can potentially increase the lifespan of middle-aged individuals by almost 10 years.
Earlier this week, a study was published in the journal Nature Food which examined the health records of approximately 500,000 British individuals. These individuals’ dietary patterns were recorded as part of the UK biobank study.
A team of researchers categorized 467,354 individuals according to their dietary patterns and monitored any shifts over a period of time.
The participants were divided into two categories: average and unhealthy eaters, and those who followed either the UK’s Eatwell Guide or the “longevity diet” recommended by the researchers.
At present, the average lifespan in the United Kingdom is approximately 84 years for women and 80 years for men.
Taking into account additional factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical activity, the research revealed that individuals who were 40 years old and transitioned from an unhealthy diet to a more nutritious one, and maintained this change, experienced an increase in life expectancy of approximately 9 to 10 years.
In a study using data from the UK Biobank, researchers found that consistently following the Eatwell Guide dietary recommendations instead of unhealthy eating habits can lead to an average increase of 8.9 years in life expectancy for 40-year-old men and 8.6 years for 40-year-old women. The study was conducted by scientists, including those from the University of Bergen in Norway.
They stated that within the same group of people, making long-lasting changes in diet from unhealthy to those associated with longevity led to an increase in life expectancy of 10.8 years for males and 10.4 years for females.
According to researchers, individuals who adjusted their diets to include more whole grains, nuts, and fruits and less sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats experienced the greatest increases in life expectancy.
Individuals who initially adhered to a typical diet and subsequently switched to a more nutritious eating pattern experienced a decrease in life expectancy gains.
Research has shown that as individuals make bigger changes towards healthier eating habits, the potential increase in life expectancy also grows.
Scientists say that the increase in life expectancy appears to be smaller when the change in diet is implemented later in life, but it is still considerable.
For example, it has been stated that individuals in their 70s can potentially increase their lifespan by 4 to 5 years through consistent changes in their diet.
Recent research suggests that implementing government measures, such as implementing taxes on unhealthy foods, improving the food environment in schools and workplaces, and providing subsidies for healthy foods, could have a positive impact on the health of people in the UK.
The researchers stated that implementing these policy measures, based on the latest estimations of potential increases in life expectancy provided in this paper, could assist in directing resources towards promoting healthier eating habits for the overall population.