Four diet changes can help cut the risk of illness and boost longevity

Four diet changes can help cut the risk of illness and boost longevity
Diana Moran takes the GB News panel through her morning exercise routine
Anna Barry

By Anna Barry

Published: 11/01/2024

- 13:17

Updated: 11/01/2024

- 13:18

A nutrition expert shared four simple ways people can reduce their risk of life-shortening diseases

There are many benefits to a nutrient-rich diet: better skin, a healthier weight and more energy.

But eating a healthy diet may even help you to minimise certain illnesses and consequently, live a longer life.

Professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Dr Frank B. Hu said that “diet is one of the most important factors that can impact chronic disease risk, mortality and longevity”.

According to the expert, there are four ways people can eat for longevity.


'Diet is one of the most important factors that can impact chronic disease risk, mortality and longevity'


Eat more whole foods

Dr Hu recommended focussing on whole foods that are minimally processed and free from added salts, sugars, additives and fats.

He advocated for nutritious ways of eating such as the Mediterranean diet, Okinawan diet and plant-based diets.

The Mediterranean diet is primarily plant-based but with the addition of fish and poultry, plenty of fruit and veg and the absence of processed foods.

The Okinawan diet is low calorie and low fat but high in carbohydrates, with a focus on vegetables and soy products, and small amounts of noodles, rice, pork and fish.

The expert explained that these dietary patterns have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic disease including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and the risk of dementia, all major causes of death.

Eat less processed and ultra-processed foods

While people should up their intake of whole foods, they should also cut down on the amount of processed and ultra-processed goods they are consuming.

Processed foods include processed ingredients such as salt, sugar and oils, such as salted nuts or tinned fish and cheese.

Ultra-processed foods usually have five or more ingredients in them that aren’t typically used in home cooking, like sweeteners and preservatives.

Many comfort and ‘junk’ foods fall into this category, such as ice cream, biscuits, crisps, cereals and fizzy drinks.


Cut down on processed and ultra-processed treats


Be more flexible when eating

The diet expert advised that there is no one “rigid” diet that every person should follow for a longer life.

He encouraged individuals to find whole foods they enjoy and create their own healthy diet from this.

This could mean mixing elements of the Mediterranean diet and Okinawan diet, or discovering a new healthy diet. Creating something enjoyable means it will be easier to adhere to it.

Combine socialising and eating

Finally, Dr Hu recommended using mealtimes to gather socially. Not only does eating healthily increase longevity, connecting socially is shown to as well.

He told CNBC Make It: “Eating healthy food together not only nourishes our bodies, but also nourishes our souls.”

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