Consuming the right diet can add years onto our lives even in old age, study suggests

In the UK, 75,000 premature deaths are linked to poor diet every year, and out of these, almost 17,000 are people aged between 15 and 70. Previous studies have argued that diets can lengthen a human life, with one saying that the ‘optimal’ diet could cause one to live for 12 extra years. Now, a new study suggests that certain diets can add years on to people’s lives even if they begin the change in old age.

The study, published in Nature Food, ​looked at the affect a change of diet would have on one’s life expectancy, and whether certain foods can be linked to a long life. It also explored how adherence to the UK Eatwell Guide would affect one’s life expectancy, as currently less than 0.1% of the UK population follows all of its guidelines.

Road to a long life

In general, the dietary pattern that the study linked with longevity consisted of a high intake of milk and dairy, nuts and legumes, and vegetables; a low intake of refined grains and processed meat, a ‘relatively low’ consumption of red meat, sugar-sweetened beverages and sugar-sweetened beverages, and a moderate intake of whole grains, fish, fruit and white meat.

Meanwhile, the dietary pattern with the highest associations of mortality contained no or limited amounts of fruit and veg, whole grains, nuts and legumes, milk and dairy products, and fish and white meat, but substantial consumption of eggs, refined grains, processed meat and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Specifically, the biggest gains in life expectancy are associated with increasing one’s intake of whole grains and nuts, and decreasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats.