NutritionFacts.org

lifespan

Japan has the number one life expectancy of any nation; the US falls around 19th. A study recently suggested that eating a single serving of berries every day could add an extra year to our lifespan. The available evidence also suggests that eating nuts may extend our life by years. A plant based diet overall is thought to be capable of reversing heart disease and, thus, extending the lifespan (see also here, here, here, here). However, British vegetarians do not appear to live longer than British meat eaters (possibly due to the fact that they are less likely to supplement their diet with vitamin B12). And lastly, coffee has been associated with decreased all-cause mortality. Besides diet, sleeping 7 hours a night may maximize longevity. Severe caloric restriction has been found to extend the lives of animals in laboratories.

On the other hand, there are a number of vitamin supplements that have been found to increase all-cause mortality, or shorten the lifespan (see also here). Iron pills have also been linked to a shorter lifespan. Eating just one egg a day has been found to shorten our lifespan (see also here). Meat intake means increases in total mortality according to the massive NIH-AARP study (the largest forward looking study of diet and health in history). Processed meats and fish have likewise been associated with accelerated aging. Similarly, the Harvard Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Harvard Nurses’ Health Study linked red meat consumption to living a significantly shorter life—increased cancer mortality, increased heart disease mortality, and increased overall mortality. Not surprisingly then, people on animal-based low carb diets have been found to live significantly shorter lives. Untreated celiac disease may shorten the lifespan. Early puberty has been associated with a shorter lifespan. Kombucha tea has been associated with life threatening effects and should be avoided. Dark fish consumption (such as salmon) has been linked with atrial fibrillation (a heartbeat arrhythmia, which can significantly shorten the lifespan).

Moderate alcohol consumption does not affect the lifespan of healthy people either positively or negatively. Vitamin C and multivitamin supplements appear to have a neutral effect on our lifespan. Vitamin D, however, seems to be the only supplement that actually appears to make us live longer (see also here, here, here, here, here). And women with breast cancer who eat soy appear to survive longer.

See also the related blog post: How to live longer in four easy steps

Topic summary contributed by Denise.
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Watch videos about lifespan

  • Caloric Restriction vs. Animal Protein Restriction
    Caloric Restriction vs. Animal Protein Restriction
    The lifespan extension associated with dietary restriction may be due less to a reduction in calories, and more to a reduction in animal protein (particularly the amino acid leucine, which may...
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    A bacteria discovered on Easter Island may hold the key to the proverbial fountain of youth by producing rapamycin, which inhibits the engine-of-aging enzyme TOR.
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    Low Carb Diets and Coronary Blood Flow
    Blood flow within the hearts of those eating low carb diets was compared to those eating plant-based diets.
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    Nuts May Help Prevent Death
    Just a few small servings of nuts a week may increase our lifespan and lower cancer risk.
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    Food Antioxidants and Cancer
    Antioxidant intake from foods (not supplements) is associated with lower cancer risk.
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    Advice to eat oily fish or take fish oil to lower risk of heart disease, stroke, or mortality is no longer supported by the balance of available evidence.
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    What does the best available science say about the role multivitamins may play in heart disease, cancer, and longevity?
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