No matter how old you are or how much junk food you eat, It’s never too late to start undo damage caused by a bad nutrition.
That’s the message from scientists who study how our food choices affect our lives and our risk of developing disease. Scientific evidence emphasizes that people can gain significant health benefits at any age by reducing intake of highly processed foods filled with shall, sugar and others additions and replace them with more nutritious food such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, lentils, shellfish and whole grains.
The sooner you start, the better. Following a healthy diet from a young age leads to bigger Life expectancy. But even people who wait until middle age or later to improve their eating habits still can add years to their lives.
Scientific research shows that you don’t necessarily need to completely change your diet to reap benefits. Even small changeslike adding a handful walnuts to your daily diet as an afternoon snack and reduce consumption of processed meat Like the ham and the sausagesThey can add years to your life. And this suggests that even if you have 60 years or olderHowever, making these relatively small changes to your diet can still yield huge benefits.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicineroughly followed the scientists 74,000 people between 30 and 75 years old for more than two decades. During that time they analyzed their diets and lifestyle habits and tracked changes in what they ate. The researchers used several scoring systems to determine the quality of their diet, including the Alternative Healthy Eating Indexwhich was developed by nutrition experts at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
The index gives low scores to unhealthy foods and higher scores to healthier foods. Foods that scored high included fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, and foods high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats and Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, avocados, and olive oil. Some of the unhealthy foods that got the lowest scores were things like red and processed meat and foods high in sodium and added sugars, like sugary drinks, pizza, chips and other junk food.
The more nutritious food people ate and the less junk food they consumed, the higher their diet scores. The researchers found that people who had consistently high diet scores were up to 14% less likely to die from any cause during the study period compared to people who had consistently poor diets.
But perhaps most importantly, people who improved their eating habits saw huge benefits. The researchers found that people who increased their diet scores by just 20% during the study had at least an 8% reduction in mortality over the study period and a 7 to 15% reduction in their chance of dying from heart disease. Getting a 20% boost in your diet score could be as simple as replacing the sugary drinks in your diet with sparkling water and eating at least a handful of nuts or a serving of beans or lentils a day, he said. said. Mercedes Sotos-Pietolead author of the study.
The researcher pointed out that most of the study participants were over 60 years of age, which shows that it is never too late to benefit from an improvement in your eating habits. The decrease in mortality among people who improved their eating habits was largely due to a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, which is strongly influenced by diet. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.
Sotos-Pieto pointed out that eating a more nutritious diet, with small, gradual improvements in your food choices, cOver time, it can help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and inflammation levels.all of which can improve your cardiovascular health and reduce your chance of a stroke. heart attack oh one strokes cerebral.
“There is no need to drastically change your lifestyle”, said Sotos-Pieto, assistant professor at the Autonomous University of Madrid and adjunct professor at Harvard School of Public Health. “Choose small goals that you can achieve and maintain over time,” he added.
In another study published earlier this year in PLOS Medicine, scientists analyzed a wealth of data on the impact that different foods have on the risk of premature death. They then used that data, along with other research on mortality and chronic disease rates, to estimate how changes in a person’s diet might affect their life expectancy at different ages.
The researchers found that a 20-year-old man who has changed from the typical Western diet to an optimal Mediterranean-style diet (and her entourage) could add an average of 11 to 13 years to their life expectancy. But even older people can benefit: a 60-year-old who made this switch could increase their life expectancy by as much as nine years, and an 80-year-old could gain about three and a half years.
The study found that life expectancy increased by eating more legumes such as beans, peas, lentils and peanuts. If overhauling your diet sounds like a daunting task, start small by adding a few foods especially important for your diet.
– Eat a handful of walnuts every day
– Add some servings whole grain to your diet. Switch to Integral rice instead of white rice
– Eat at least one cup of beans, lentils or peas a day. Add chickpeas to a salad or make a burrito with black or pinto beans
– Add nut butter (peanut butter or almond butter) to toast, oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast
The tremendous health benefits of eating more legumes, nuts and whole grains come from them metabolic profilesaid Lars Fadneslead author of the PLOS Medicine study and professor at the University of Bergen in Norway. These foods are nutrient dense and contain large amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Legumes, for example, are rich in protein and contain several B vitamins, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc and phosphorus. These foods have also been shown in clinical trials reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol levels and other metabolic markers that affect your life expectancy
Fadnes emphasized that if you eat a lot fast foodhow much before change your eating habits, the better. Even for people who are overweight, older and in poor metabolic health, the benefits of eating more nutritious foods “are likely to be substantial.”
* By Anahad O’Connor, Washington Post reporter