Want to live longer? These are the 4 eating habits to follow to lower your mortality risk

Jan 17, 2023
Researchers found that those who closely followed one of these dietary regimes had a lower risk of being diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and respiratory issues. Source: Getty Images.

In this day and age, there’s an abundance of dietary recommendations out there, but the link between food and a person’s health isn’t universal.

According to a 2015 study Australian Burden of Disease, “7.3 per cent of the total burden of disease in Australia was due to poor diet (1.6 per cent to a diet low in whole grains and high fibre cereal, 1.4% to a diet low in fruits and 1.2 per cent to a diet low in vegetables)”.

Now, findings from the Healthy Eating Patterns and Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality study, led by researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that four diets with the same key similarities can reduce the risk of premature death.

Over a period of over 36 years, the team analysed the eating patterns of more than 119,000 people with four sets of well-known healthy dietary regimes: the healthy eating index, the Mediterranean diet, the healthful plant-based diet and alternate healthy eating.

Researchers found that those who closely followed one of these dietary regimes had a lower risk of being diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and respiratory issues. While each diet was different, they all included whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes.

Those who follow the healthy eating index eat recommended servings of food across all categories such as fruits, vegetables and dairy. The Mediterranean diet is more comprehensive and looks into a person’s fruits, fish, nuts, and alcohol intake.

The healthful plant-based diet looks at healthy plant-based foods such as vegetables and whole grains versus unhealthy plant-based options like refined grains, high-sugar foods, and animal-based products.

The alternate healthy eating diet looks at everything a person eats, from vegetables to soft drinks, and examines their correlation to chronic diseases.

According to Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health’s nutritional epidemiologist Frank Hu, the study’s findings prove that the advice from the official dietary guidelines does offer science-based dietary recommendations that “promotes good health and reduce major chronic diseases”.

“It is important to evaluate adherence to dietary guidelines recommended eating patterns and health outcomes, including mortality, so that timely updates can be made,” Hu says.

“Our findings will be valuable for the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is being formed to evaluate current evidence surrounding different eating patterns and health outcomes.”

In Australia, the Australian Dietary Guidelines suggest Australians eat varying amounts of nutritious food from the five food groups every day.

Per the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, this includes plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours and legumes, fruit, grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain or high-fibre varieties. lean meats and alternatives,  dairy or their alternatives, and plenty of water.

Maintaining a healthy diet is an important pillar of health for over 60s as it plays a crucial role in maintaining and even improving overall health and well-being.

A healthy diet can help manage and prevent chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer and can also help in maintaining a healthy weight and improving energy levels.

Eating a healthy diet is particularly important for those over 60, given that as we age our nutrient needs change and our bodies’ ability to absorb and use certain nutrients decreases.

Principle Nutritionist and Director of Sydney City Nutritionist and Food Intolerance Australia, Jennifer May recently told Starts at 60 that “for people over the age of 60, nutrition is especially important for maintaining overall health.”

“Eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated are key components to ensuring that seniors get all the nutrients they need in order to support optimum health,” May says.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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