How to live longer: Best diet to follow if you want to increase your life expectancy

Long life expectancy can be achieved through some simple lifestyle changes – regular exercising, limiting alcohol intake, not smoking and eating a healthy diet. But with so many different diet plans to follow, which one is deemed the best? According to medical consultant Dr Sarah Brewer and dietician Juliette Kellow, following a vegan or vegetarian diet could be most beneficial. In their book titled ‘Eat Better Live Longer’ the pair write: “Look at the communities in the world with the longest life expectancies and one of the key things they share is a mainly plant-based diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.

Look at the communities in the world with the longest life expectancies and one of the key things they share is a mainly plant-based diet

“Skewing your diet towards plants seems to protect against many age-related conditions, including heart disease, cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

A number of studies have shown diet based mainly on plants are linked to a reduction in mortality – particularly cardiovascular disease.

The duo continue: “You don’t need to be 100 per cent vegetarian to benefit: a 2015 study found that diets comprising 70 per cent plant-based foods cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by 20 per cent, so the priority is to obtain most nutrients from plants.”

Experts agree the health benefits of plant-based diets are twofold.

Dr Brewer and Ms Kellow advise: “First, by eating more plant foods we ‘crowd out’ animal foods and reduce our intake of the nutrients they contain that are linked to poorer health.

“Second, most plant-based foods come with in-built beneficial nutrients, many of which are unique to plants.”

But for those who can’t quite make the leap to veganism or vegetarianism, other diets around the world have also been hailed for boosting life expectancy.

The Mediterranean diet has been hailed in recent years for contributing to better health and quality of life.

Dr Brewer and Ms Kellow say: “Many of the countries bordering the Mediterranean boast long life expectancies.

“Sardinia and the Greek island of Ikaria are known for exceptional longevity, with a high proportion of adults living to 90 or more.

“Here, traditional diets feature lots of ‘good’ fats, fish, whole grains, pulses, and fresh fruit and veg.”

People in the Mediterranean eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils and chickpeas, oily fish and shellfish, nuts, olive oil, and herbs and garlic.

They tend to limit red meat, butter and processed foods and foods high in fat and sugar.

Red wine, eggs and dairy are important, but are limited to small amounts.

Studies have shown a 53 per cent drop in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in those who follow a Mediterranean diet.

A Japanese diet has also been proven to boost life expectancy. 

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