There may be no such thing as dying from old age. From a study of more than 42,000 autopsies, centenarians were found to have succumbed to diseases in 100 percent of the cases examined. Though most were perceived to have been healthy just prior to death, not one “died of old age.” They died from disease, most commonly heart attacks.
Healthy plant-based diets are associated with a lower risk of premature death and better odds for healthy aging, longevity, and delaying age-related diseases. The benefits of plant-based eating likely derive from increasing protective dietary factors like fiber while decreasing intake of pathogenic (disease-causing) dietary factors like saturated fat. For eighteen years, the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging followed individuals from a starting average age around 60. Researchers found that more fruits and vegetables, as well as less saturated fat, were associated with a lower likelihood of dying from heart disease within that period, but only the combination of elevated produce consumption and decreased saturated fat intake significantly reduced the risk of dying from all causes put together.
The lowest validated rates of Alzheimer’s disease are found in rural India, where people eat traditional, plant-based diets centered on grains and vegetables. A recent study in Taiwan found that vegetarians developed dementia at only two-thirds the rate of nonvegetarians. In the United States, those who don’t eat meat (including poultry and fish) appear to halve their risk of developing dementia. And, the longer meat is avoided, the lower dementia risk may fall. Compared to those eating meat more than four times a week, individuals who have eaten vegetarian diets for thirty years or more had three times lower risk of developing dementia.
In my book, How Not to Age, I identify the eleven most promising pathways for slowing aging and recommend practical proposals for targeting them naturally with diet and lifestyle changes, construct the optimal anti-aging regimen and get into the nitty gritty on preserving your bones, bowels, circulation, hair, hearing, hormone balance, mind, muscles, sex life, skin, teeth, vision, and, finally, your dignity in death, and conclude with my Anti-Aging Eight, an actionable checklist offering some of the best opportunities to slow aging or improve longevity.
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