The diet that makes you live longer, according to science

An individual who has already lived a few decades-as we all have, by the look of it-has heard of many special diets. We are not talking here, it is useful to specify, about weight-loss regimens. We talk about “lifestyle,” particularly declined in nutrition. In short, the diet we are referring to is not the slimming diet but is about our relationship with food.

The quality (and length) of life

We all know by now that the quality of our lives depends on many factors: emotional relationships, work, the exercise we do (or do not do), how and what we eat, and habits, positive or negative. The simplest method for calculating this quality has a dual scale of measurement: in the immediate and in the long run. In the first case it measures how we live today, in the second how long we live, that is. In this article we discuss those diets that science says extend life the longest.

The research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, focused on four diets: the Mediterranean diet, the vegan diet, the so-called “Alternative Health Food Index,” and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Importantly, the most interesting result is that none of these diets individually guarantees a longer life but rather all of them together succeed in doing so, results in hand.

While the Mediterranean and plant-based diets are well known, somewhat less so are the other two, namely the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In the first case, it is an index of foods evaluated according to whether or not they are dangerous in inducing the development of more or less serious diseases (the healthiest foods, according to the Harvard researchers who developed it, are vegetables, whole-grain flours, legumes, fish, and olive oil; the least healthy are fruit juices, saturated fats, and refined flours). In the case of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, on the other hand, the focus is more on the caloric intake of different ingredients and recommendations to avoid or limit others (such as sugar) than on individual foods, ultimately providing less advice on which ones to favor.

Why mix so many diets and not just focus on one? Because each one, individually, is not decisive, whereas they all are as a whole. Then don’t overlook another positive aspect: the variety that as many as four dietary regimens allow you as opposed to just one. If you get tired of one, in short, you have three more to adopt.

The results

The research was based on the study of the eating habits of 75,000 women and 44,000 men over 36 years old. The scientists have been analyzing the diets of all subjects involved every four years, giving an assessment to the deviation of individuals from certain dietary regimens. It was finally concluded that among those who adhered to it more precisely, they had managed to reduce the risk of dying from respiratory diseases from 35 to 46 percent, while cardiovascular diseases decreased from 6 to 13 percent, and the risk of developing fatal cancer lowered in a range of 7 to 18 percent.

What is important to note is that being able to analyze the food diaries of this large number of people made it possible to link their health conditions, as well as allowing to observe that the most encouraging results were not referable to just one of these diets but to their whole. Variety and imagination, as well as much less boredom, have, in short, rewarded.

(Source: Trailrunner Magazine)


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