Eating more environmentally friendly foods can help you live longer, according to new research. Healthy living. In a study conducted over 30 years, researchers found that those who ate more sustainably died 25 percent less often than those who did not.
The research expands on the previous studies identified Foods Foods that are beneficial to human health and the environment, such as whole grains, fruits, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, and unsaturated oils, and foods that may be harmful to both, such as eggs, red, and processed meats. According to the latest research, eating more healthily can reduce the risk of dying from conditions including cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease and neurological disorders.
“We proposed a new diet score that incorporates the best scientific evidence of food effects on health and the environment,” said Lin Bui, a PhD candidate in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. “The results confirmed our hypothesis that a higher Planetary Health diet score is associated with a lower risk of mortality.”
Bui will present the findings at NUTRITION 2023, the American Society for Nutrition’s flagship annual meeting, July 22-25 in Boston. According to existing evidence, plant-based diets are associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, and stroke, and reduce the impact on the environment in terms of factors such as water use, land use, nutrient pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
With the new study, researchers aim to create a simple tool that policymakers and public health practitioners can use to develop strategies to improve public health and address the climate crisis.
“As a millennial, I’ve always been concerned with mitigating human impacts on the environment,” Bui said. “A sustainable diet must not only be healthy, but also sustainable within planetary boundaries for greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental parameters.”
To create their Planetary Health Diet Index (PHDI), researchers reviewed existing research on the relationship between various food groups and health outcomes based on the EAT-Lancet reference diet, which accounts for the environmental impacts of food production practices. They applied the index to analyze results among more than 100,000 participants in two large cohort studies conducted in the United States. The data set includes 47,000 deaths over a three-decade follow-up period from 1986-2018.
Overall, they found that PhDIs in the highest quintile (one-fifth of participants) had a 25 percent lower risk of dying from any cause compared with those in the lowest quintile.
Bui cautioned that the PHDI does not necessarily reflect all foods and their association with all major diseases in all countries. People with different food access due to specific health conditions, religious restrictions, or socioeconomic status or food availability may face challenges with maintaining a more sustainable diet. Further research will help clarify and address such barriers.
“We hope that researchers can adapt this index to specific food cultures and validate how it relates to environmental impacts such as carbon footprints, water footprints and land use in other populations,” Bui said.
This story was published unchanged from a wire agency feed. Only the title has been changed.