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Study found that diversity of healthy eating behaviours can reduce chance of early mortality

by Medically Speaking

A new study discovered that a range of healthy eating habits are linked to a decreased risk of dying before your time. They discovered that, when compared to participants with lower scores, those with high scores on adherence to at least one of four healthy eating patterns had a lower risk of dying from any cause and a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, cancer, or respiratory disease during the course of the study. The findings are in accordance with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which advocate for a variety of healthful eating behaviours. JAMA Internal Medicine published the findings online.

“The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are intended to provide science-based dietary advice that promotes good health and reduces major chronic diseases. Thus, it is critical to examine the associations between DGAs-recommended dietary patterns and long-term health outcomes, especially mortality,” said corresponding author Frank Hu, Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition.

Few studies have been conducted to determine if greater adherence to the DGAs-recommended dietary patterns is related with a lower risk of total and cause-specific death over time. The researchers analysed health data from 75,230 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and 44,085 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study obtained during a 36-year period.

At the start of the trial, all patients were clear of cardiovascular disease or cancer, and they completed dietary questionnaires every four years. Their data was graded using each of the four dietary pattern indices (Healthy Eating Index 2015, Alternate Mediterranean Diet, Healthful Plant-based Diet Index, and Alternate Healthy Eating Index). Key components shared by everyone include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, however other components vary among dietary patterns.

A higher score on at least one of the measures was linked to a decreased chance of mortality from any cause, as well as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory illness. Higher AMED and AHEI scores were related with a decreased probability of dying from neurodegenerative illness. The findings were similar for non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic Blacks, and Hispanics.

The current DGAs (2015-2020) advocate for a variety of healthy eating patterns that may be tailored to individual dietary traditions and tastes. The US Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture issue an updated version of the Guidelines every five years (USDA).

“It is important to evaluate adherence to DGAs-recommended eating patterns and health outcomes, including mortality, so that timely updates can be made,” said Hu. “Our findings will be valuable for the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is being formed to evaluate current evidence surrounding different eating patterns and health outcomes.”

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