You’ve heard all the benefits of a healthy diet: you’ll feel better, you could lose weight, it’s better for your heart…and the list goes on. But have you heard that switching to a better, plant-based diet could add years to your life? That’s what recent research is saying. In fact, studies show you could add up to 13 years just by changing what you eat. That certainly sounds like reason enough to try a different diet.
Switching from “Western” to “Optimized”
There’s a reason the acronym for the standard American diet is SAD: it’s just not the best option for a healthy life. Unfortunately, it’s not only Americans who are overdoing it with processed foods. The “Western” diet is loaded with them, along with refined grains and sugars. And as might be expected, that results in added pounds as well as health issues, including heart disease and diabetes.
The “optimized” diet, on the other hand, is a game changer. This is more in alignment with a plant-based lifestyle and minimizes processed meats while shifting the focus to whole grains, legumes, and fruits and vegetables. At what age you make the switch determines how you’ll add years to your life—which, in some cases, equals a decade or more.
The Best Diets for Health
A team of scientists from the University of Bergen in Norway took on this study in light of the fact that diet is at the root of 11 million deaths globally each year. Additionally, they found that 255 million disability-adjusted life years are affected by Western diets. While they didn’t suggest a universal nutrition plan to combat the effects of poor diet, others suggest the Mediterranean diet, vegetarianism, or veganism. The overall goal is to replace red meat and processed foods with plant-based and whole foods.
Thankfully, a 100% change in your diet is not necessary to add years to your life. “Simple food swaps will go a long way to improving your health, extending your life, and redressing the balance of a lifelong unhealthy diet,” suggests Matt Evans, editor at Fit&Well. Even if you’re not ready to toss out everything in your pantry, you can start incorporating better choices moving forward.
How Many Years Can You Add?
Similar to how stopping smoking adds years to your life based on how old you are when you stop and how long you enjoyed cigarettes previously, the researchers in this study offer a sliding scale based on your age. When switching from the Western diet to an optimized diet, life expectancy looks like this:
- By starting at age 20, a woman adds an average of 10.7 years, and a man adds 13 years.
- By starting at age 60, a woman adds an average of 8 years, and a man adds 8.8 years.
- By starting at age 80, a woman adds an average of 2.6 years, and a man adds 3.8 years.
As you can see, it doesn’t matter how young or old you are; you can add years to your life at any age when you shift your diet to fewer meats and processed foods with a focus on whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
Are You Ready to Add Years to Your Life?
How exciting is it that you can change your life expectancy in a flash, just by making healthier choices with your diet? Skip the sugar-laden donuts and soda, eschew the processed meats and cereals, and leave the prepared meals at the store. The next time you’re shopping for groceries, put your time and energy into the perimeter of the store: where the whole foods are.
Vegan Taste has an effortless way for you to increase your plant-based whole foods—and you barely need to think about it other than making your choices from what Chef Jason is cooking each week. We prepare delicious vegan meals and deliver them right to your doorstep. All you have to do is heat and enjoy. The only question that remains is: How many years are you going to add to your life?