What we eat directly impacts how long we live. Researchers from the University of Michigan developed the following evidence based on modelling carbon footprint & the nutritional impact of different foods:
- Processed meat diminishes your life span – for example each hot dog takes 36 minutes off your life (sausage sizzle anyone?) & each serve of bacon takes off 9 minutes
- Sugary drinks – each can of soft drink reduces your life by 12 minutes (and a further 8 minutes if you eat a double cheese burger with it)
- Some food can prolong life span – nuts add 26 minutes & salmon adds 16 minutes. Perhaps counterintuitively, a peanut butter jelly sandwich adds 30 minutes!
- Small changes in diet matter – replacing bacon & processed meat (e.g. ham) with nuts, fruit & vegetables adds almost an hour back to your life each day
More generally, here are some tips for health & longevity:
- Nuts reduce heart disease and inflammation, control blood pressure and diabetes and can even reduce the risk of some cancers. 3 serves a week reduces premature death by 39%
- A plant based diet, reduces premature death by 12-15%, and specifically up to a 50% reduction in cancer & heart disease
- Exercise – 15 minutes per day adds up to 3 years of life! Exercising 2.5 hours per week means you are 28% less likely to die early
- Don’t smoke – this reduces your life by an average of 10 years
- Small amounts of wine, but not heavy alcohol consumption
- Be happy – you live 18% longer & reducing stress lowers your risk of early death by two or three times (200-300%)
- Hang out with friends – having 3 social connections lowers your risk of ealry death by two times (200%)
- Aim to be conscientious, organised & disciplined – these traits translate to living 11% longer
- Drink coffee & tea for a 20-30% lower risk of early death
And overall, eating less and sleeping well also helps.