Study shows replacing single food from your diet with alternative could increase your life expectancy: 'Considerable benefits for health'

While meat is a staple in many people's diets worldwide, new research shows that replacing red and processed meats with plant-based alternatives could help you live longer.

As SciTechDaily reported, a joint study by McGill University and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that substituting plant proteins for even half of a person's red or processed meat intake could extend their lifespan by nearly nine months.

The team attributed the life expectancy boost to a lower risk of chronic diseases. Furthermore, they found that switching to a plant-based or plant-forward diet would benefit men more, with double the gain in life expectancy compared to women.

In addition, researchers determined that swapping some dairy foods for plant proteins led to small increases in lifespan but had the downside of increasing calcium deficiencies by 14%.

SciTech explained that the study, published in Nature Food, gathered data from a Canadian national nutrition survey to examine participants' dietary records.

"The study modeled partial replacements (25% and 50%) of either red and processed meat or dairy with plant protein foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, tofu, and fortified soy beverages, on a combination of nutrition, health, and climate outcomes," the outlet said.

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Along with the health benefits associated with eating more plants, the study found that diet-related carbon pollution decreased by 25% for red and processed meat and up to 5% for dairy replacements when people substituted just half of their intake of these foods with plant-based alternatives.

Numerous studies prove the health and environmental advantages of plant proteins, including reducing weight, insulin, and cholesterol levels. In addition, scientists have found that replacing half of animal products with plant-based alternatives could reduce global agriculture-related pollution by up to a third by 2050 (compared to 2020 levels).

"I hope our findings will help consumers make healthier and more sustainable food choices and inform future food policy in Canada," senior author Sergio Burgos, Associate Professor in McGill's Department of Animal Science and scientist at the Research Institute of McGill University Health Centre, said in a McGill University news release.

"Increasing the consumption of plant-based foods alongside reductions in red and processed meat would have considerable benefits for health and the environment and would involve relatively small changes in diets for most people in Canada," Patricia Eustachio Colombo, co-author and Honorary Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's Centre on Climate Change & Planetary Health, also said in the release.

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