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There are many food items that you must eat in order to stay healthy. From fresh fruits to vegetables, and nuts and seeds, your daily dietary intake must include it all in different proportions. And if you are someone who consumes a lot of processed foods and junk meals, know that it is not too late to change your eating habits and turn your life around.
While occasionally cheating on your diet with something sweet, fried, savoury is all right, doing it regularly can take away years from your life. The good news, however, is that making a conscious switch from an unhealthy to a healthy diet even in your middle age can add almost a decade to your life. And there are specific foods that can help you achieve it.
A recent study, published in Nature Food, has estimated how lifestyle changes could affect a person's life expectancy. According to a Business Insider report, data on 4,67,354 participants from the UK Biobank -- a biomedical database and research resource containing "genetic and health information on half a million UK participants" -- was used for the study.
It was found that people in their 40s, who made the switch from an unhealthy diet to a healthy, "longevity-associated diet", could add around 10 more years to increase their life expectancy. The change was associated with an additional 10.8 years for women and 10.4 years for men.
Interestingly, it was also found that for people who normally consumed an average diet -- instead of a totally unhealthy one -- when they switched to the longevity diet, there was a life expectancy gain of 3.1 years for women in their 40s, and 3.4 years for men. Making similar dietary changes in their 70s was linked to a life expectancy gain of around 5 years.
"The biggest gains in life expectancy are associated with increased intake of whole grains and nuts, and with reduced intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats. Our findings suggest these food groups should be specific targets for clinicians in the guidance of patients and policymakers in developing public health policy," the authors wrote.
According to the analysis of researchers at the University of Bergen, Norway, and the University of Glasgow, Scotland, the aforementioned longevity-associated diet comprises a high intake of milk and dairy, vegetables, nuts and legumes, and a moderate intake of whole grains, fruit, fish, and white meat. It also included a relatively-low intake of eggs, red meat and sugar-sweetened beverages, and a low intake of refined grains and processed meat.
The study participants were adjusted for age, sex, socio-demographic area, smoking, alcohol consumption and activity levels.