Numbers and Facts about How Food is Impacting your Lifespan

Main takeaway: statistically speaking, healthy food can get you more than 12 years of additional lifespan (and probably much more in terms of healthspan).

Today I’d like to talk about food, but not in the way you read about it all day in glossy magazines or TV shows. We know we need to eat healthy. We roughly know what this means. But then, all this is usually presented in a very impractical and clumsy format: a very explicit (and hard to follow) rule of how and what to eat, and then, a very blurry, long term, shady benefit, to “improve one’s life when you’ll be older”. In other words, do a sacrifice NOW, and for a hopeful long term, weakly defined, benefit.

I knew how hard it was to restrain myself from unhealthy (but so tasteful) food, so in order to motivate myself to follow these recommendations, I also needed to evaluate and quantify the future benefit of this effort. By chance, a friend told me about an interesting app to ponder the “effort to benefit” ratio (thank you JB 🙂 ). Under a unsexy and very basic design, this small app is exactly what I needed: you type in some data about yourself and what food you eat right now, and it computes how many additional years of life you get if you start eating healthy food, statistically speaking.

Before I let you know the app, so that you can play with it yourself, a couple of takeaways to remember:

– the difference between eating “average food” and “optimized for longevity food”, is a whooping 12.2 years of lifespan (statistically speaking). If we speak about healthspan (that is years of healthy life, without major diseases), the difference may be even bigger (more about this in future my future posts). Eat junk or “average food” and live 77.8 years (probably in a pitiful shape in the last 10 – 15 years of your life). Eat healthy food and live 90 years old (probably with what is called a compressed morbidity in the last couple of years of your life – which means you’ll be ill a short amount of time before you pass away). Now THAT is a quantified equation I can use to motivate myself to eat healthy in the present.

– the food to eat as much as possible is, with no big surprise: vegetables and fruits

– the food to eat in a moderate quantity is: whole grains, fish and milk

– the food to avoid at all costs (bring it to 0 is possible) are processed meat, red meat and sugar

– one very interesting way to see it (and think of it, when you ponder whether to eat or not a specific product), is to see how many years you’re gaining (or losing) when playing with one or 2 parameters at once: for example, if you don’t eat your vegetables you lose 2 years of lifespan, if you don’t eat vegetables and fruits altogether, and lose 3.8 years of lifespan. And then, taking the right decisions on each category of foods, one by one, adds up considerable years to your lifespan.

The app I’ve used to help me understand how impactful healthy food is for longevity is I hope you’ll like it and by playing with it, it will help you decide what makes sense for you in terms of healthy vs tasteful food, between the short term pleasure (eat a tasteful meal), and the long term benefit (live longer healthier).

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