How to live longer: Best diet to protect against disease and boost life expectancy

Long life expectancy can be achieved through eating the right foods, experts have found. It’s recommended people eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day, base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes and rice, have some dairy or dairy alternatives, eat some protein, choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat then in small amounts, and to drink plenty of fluids.


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While many diets embrace these guidelines, which one has been found to be best at boosting life expectancy?

Vegan diets are becoming increasingly popular and have been found to have a positive impact on many parts of a person’s health.

The diet eliminates meat and animal products, replacing these with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.

And among its benefits a vegan diet has been found to lower blood sugar levels and improve kidney function – high blood sugar levels can increase the risk of life-threatening health problems.

In one study, 43 percent of participants following a vegan diet were able tor educe their dosage of blood-sugar-lowering medication, compared to only 26 percent in the group that followed an American Diabetes Association recommended diet.

A vegan diet may also protect against certain cancers.

For example, eating legumes regularly may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by about 9 to 18 percent. 

Research also suggests eating at least seven portions of fresh fruits and vegetables per day may lower the risk of dying from cancer by up to 15 percent. 


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Cutting out meat has also been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.

Observational studies comparing vegans to the general population report vegans may benefits from up to 75 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure. 

And vegans may also have up to a 42 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease.

For those who can’t cut animal products out completely, for example eggs and dairy, a vegetarian diet has also been shown to help people live longer.


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The authors of a large, long-term study featured in the British Medical Journal concluded vegetarianism is associated with a reduced risk of ischemic heart disease.

Another diet proven to help people live longer is the Mediterranean diet.

A study titled ‘Adherence to Mediterranean Diet Reduces Incident Frailty Risk: System Review and Meta-Analysis’, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found a clear association between the Mediterranean diet and incident frailty.

But not only was there a link – the diet was found to significantly lower the risk of frailty, particularly in community-dwelling older people.

The Mediterranean diet is inspired by the eating habits of Greece, Southern Italy and Spain could lower the risk of frailty in old age.

Foods included in the diet include legumes, fish, fruits and vegetables.

Olive oil is a major component of the Mediterranean diet, and while it shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts, it’s been found to hold a host of health benefits.

French scientists found olive oil could prevent stroke in older people. 

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