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A recent study has discovered that transitioning to a more nutritious diet and maintaining it can potentially extend the lifespan of middle-aged individuals by nearly ten years.
Earlier this week, a study was published in the journal Nature Food that analyzed the health information of approximately 500,000 British individuals. This data was collected as part of the UK biobank study, which documents people’s dietary habits.
The researchers categorized 467,354 individuals according to their dietary patterns and monitored any changes that occurred over a period of time.
The participants were divided into two categories: average and unhealthy eaters, and those who followed the UK’s Eatwell Guide for their food intake. The researchers also identified a group of individuals who adhered to the “longevity diet”.
At present, the average lifespan in the UK for women is approximately 84 years, while for men it is around 80 years.
Taking into account other influencing variables such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and physical activity, the research revealed that individuals of both genders at the age of 40 who transitioned from an unhealthy diet to a more nutritious one, and maintained it, increased their life expectancy by approximately 9 to 10 years.
In this study, researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway utilized data from the UK Biobank to demonstrate that individuals who consistently shift from unhealthy eating habits to following the Eatwell Guide dietary recommendations can potentially increase their life expectancy by 8.9 and 8.6 years for 40-year-old males and females, respectively.
According to the study, making long-term changes to one’s diet in a population can result in an increase of 10.8 years for males and 10.4 years for females in life expectancy.
According to researchers, the most significant increases in life expectancy were seen in individuals who switched to a diet rich in whole grains, nuts, and fruits, while reducing their intake of sugary drinks and processed meats.
Individuals who initially adhered to a typical diet but subsequently adopted healthier dietary practices experienced less significant increases in life expectancy.
Researchers stated that as dietary patterns become healthier, the potential increase in life expectancy also increases.
Researchers report that there are reduced increases in life expectancy when individuals adopt a new diet at older ages. However, these gains are still significant, according to scientists.
For example, it is stated that individuals in their 70s can potentially increase their life span by 4 to 5 years through consistent dietary modifications.
Recent research suggests that the UK government could take specific measures to promote better health for its citizens, including implementing taxes on unhealthy foods, enhancing food environments in schools and workplaces, and providing subsidies to make healthy foods more affordable.
According to the researchers, using our current estimations of potential increases in life expectancy, policy actions could be taken to direct resources towards promoting healthier eating habits for the entire population.