February 2, 2023
Study shows that eating healthy food increases life expectancy up to 13 years

Study shows that eating healthy food increases life expectancy up to 13 years

Replacing red and processed meat, sugary drinks, and refined grains with a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, lean meats, fruits, and nuts increases life expectancy In as many as 13 years, according to new research. Scientists suggest that the faster the diet is changed, the better the likelihood of more years of life.

The Inadequate nutrition leads to many health problems. around the world and are associated with risk factors that cause approximately 11 million deaths annually.

In this new study, Published in Plus Medicine Signed by researchers from Norwegian institutions, the scientists used the GBD (Global Burden of Disease), an initiative that collects data on the impact of risk factors, such as malnutrition, on mortality in various countries – including Brazil.

In the country, for example, data from the Global Burden of Disease shows that an inadequate diet is associated with approximately 44% of deaths from Cardiovascular complications And 26% of deaths are due to diabetes.

With information like this, the researchers investigated whether changing dietary habits could extend life expectancy for population groups in three regions of the world: the United States, Europe and China.

says Alain de Carvalho, a professor in the Department of Nutrition, USP School of Public Health (University of São Paulo).

This estimate was made using the mean years of life for four age groups—20, 40, 60 and 80—in each of the three regions selected in the study. After that, it was observed The effect of that food on the mortality rate The researchers estimated the average effect of certain foods on life expectancy.

In addition to averaging these foods separately, there was also regulation in three types of diets.

One was called Western and was rich in red meat, processed foods, sugary drinks, and grains that weren’t whole grains – a poor consumption pattern. Another form of the diet was ideal and included mostly healthy foods: whole grains, vegetables, lean meats, and fruits. The third, named as viable, was in the middle of the other two species.

Each of these feeding models had their organized outcomes in the life years of the population. These values ​​were then applied to the life expectancy of the four groups that the study observed by studying the global burden of disease, and in this way, it was possible to obtain the effect on the increase of years in a person’s life depending on the age at which they began to eat healthy.

When estimating the American population, for example, the study noted that men who started the ideal diet at age 20 had a 13-year increase in life expectancy — in the case of men who adopted the diet at age 80, this increase was 3.4 years only.

Even if gains in life expectancy are lower with later adoption of healthy eating, the authors note that the change has relevant effects even among older adults — an idea that Carvalho also championed.

“Ever It is important to switch to a healthy dietRegardless of the age group for life. The sooner the better. Because changing habits can last a lifetime.”

In addition to analyzes based on three types of diet, the research also separately included the foods most important in increasing life expectancy: nuts, legumes and all grains. Each of these foods, according to an estimate, could represent an extra year of life for a person who has introduced at least one option into the diet from age 20 onwards.

Foods that were also considered healthy — such as fruit and fish — had a smaller positive effect than these other three foods. Among those with the most health risks, red or processed meat tops the list.

These results cannot necessarily be carried over to Brazil, as the study did not take into account data from the country, Carvalho stresses. An example of this has to do with legumes, such as beans, which have been among the top foods.

The professor explains that this happens because, most likely, there is not enough consumption of beans in the areas analyzed by the research, causing that adding them to the diet actually causes a positive effect on the population. However, this is probably not seen in the same way in Brazil as the locals have a bigger habit Consume pulses.

For this reason, studies of the same kind using data from Brazil will be important, something Carvalho and other researchers are already working on. She cites, for example, a survey that is being conducted to measure the effects of food on the health of the Brazilian population as well as on the environment.

He concludes, “Diet can have an effect on improving health, which are foods we can increase or decrease, but also have a positive impact on the environment,” noting that the study is still ongoing. in the initial stage.