If it wasn’t already clear enough that eating a healthy diet was worthwhile, a recent study published by the University of Bergen has shown that improving your diet can add up to 13 years to your life. A few simple changes made today can have a huge impact on your life expectancy.

The scientists showed that the big wins are found from:

  • Increasing your consumption of fruits, vegetables, pulses, wholegrains and fish, and;
  • Decreasing your consumption of red meat, processed meat, refined grains and sugar-sweetened drinks.

Ideal vs Realistic

The benefits aren’t only available to those with iron-clad willpower, the study looked at an “Optimal Diet” and a more realistic “Feasible Diet”. This easier approach was in between the typical diet and the optimal one, and still showed improvements in life expectancy of over 6 years – proving that small changes like eating a variety of fruits & veggies really do make a big difference over the long run.

The Optimum Diet

The “Optimum Diet” that the researchers identified focussed on wholegrains, fruits, veggies, pulses and fish. It excludes red & processed meat completely and restricts consumption of eggs and dairy to moderate-low levels. 

 

The Feasible Diet

The study also looked at a more achievable “Feasible” diet which is half way between the typical western diet and the optimum diet outlined above. This diet focusses on the same food groups above, but is less restricted in line with what most people are likely to be able to adopt. 

It still shows fairly restricted meat consumption, prioritising consumption of whole foods like fruits, veggies & legumes with protein from fish. 

Never Too Late

The researchers also showed us that it is never too late to make a change. While someone in their 20s will see the greatest benefits, people in their late 50s can expect to add 5 years to their life by making some achievable dietary changes, and up to a decade if they do everything perfectly. 

The Takeaways

It can feel like we’re depriving ourselves of things for no reason, but this study shows us two things. Firstly – that there is a good reason; a longer, happier life. Secondly – that you don’t need to be perfect to benefit. Every small choice you make will add up, and compound – just like choosing to have a plantshake every day to set you on your way towards your fruit & veg targets!

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