Does the Vegan Diet Extend Your Lifespan?
Thus, many people wonder whether alternative diets, such as the vegan diet, help people live longer, healthier lives. In fact, you may have heard claims that vegans have a longer lifespan than omnivores.
However, its effects on longevity are much more nuanced.
This article explains whether vegans live longer than non-vegans.
Some Vegans May Live Longer
Research examining the link between plant-based diets and longevity has produced mixed results.
One large review of vegans and vegetarians in the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, and Japan suggests that they have a 9% lower risk of death from all causes, compared with omnivores.
Another study examined Seventh Day Adventists in North America. The Seventh Day Adventist diet is typically plant-based, rich in whole foods, and free of alcohol and caffeine — although some may incorporate small amounts of eggs, dairy, or meat.
The study suggested that vegetarians and vegans may benefit from a 12% lower risk of death, compared with people who eat meat.
When separated from the rest, vegans had a 15% lower risk of dying prematurely from all causes, indicating that a vegan diet may indeed help people live longer than those who adhere to vegetarian or omnivorous eating patterns.
However, other studies in vegetarians in the United Kingdom and Australia report that they're no more likely to live longer than non-vegetarians.
Thus, there's no definitive link between veganism and lifespan.
Furthermore, most studies group vegetarians and vegans together, making it difficult to determine the exact effects of each diet on a person's life expectancy. Therefore, more research is needed solely on vegan diets before strong conclusions can be made.
Some scientific reviews suggest that vegetarian and vegan diets may help people live longer, but these findings aren't universal. As such, more comprehensive studies are necessary.
Why Do Some Vegans Live Longer?
Researchers theorize that vegans who live longer than average tend to do so for two main reasons involving both diet and lifestyle.
Vegan Diets Are Often Rich in Nutritious Compounds
Veganism eliminates all animal-based foods, including meat, dairy, eggs, and products derived from them. This usually results in a diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Research suggests that diets loaded with these plant foods may help people live longer. The same can be said about diets low in red and processed meats.
Moreover, vegan diets tend to pack plenty of fiber, plant protein, and antioxidants.
Diets rich in these nutrients are believed to safeguard against obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease — which could promote increased life expectancy.
Vegans Tend to Have Healthier Lifestyles
As a group, vegans may be more likely to pursue a health-conscious lifestyle compared with the general population.
For instance, research shows that vegans may be less likely to smoke or drink alcohol. They also appear more likely to maintain a normal body mass index (BMI), exercise regularly, and avoid overly processed junk foods.
Experts believe that this increased health consciousness may help explain why some vegans live longer than non-vegans.
Vegan diets tend to be rich in nutrients that may protect against illnesses and boost your lifespan. Many people who follow this eating pattern also make lifestyle choices, such as exercising regularly and avoiding processed foods, that may aid longevity.
Not All Vegans Live Longer
It's important to remember that not all vegan diets are rich in nutrients. In fact, some vegans may rely heavily on sugary, processed foods — which could negatively affect longevity.
Notably, studies that rate plant-based diets based on their relative amounts of processed versus nutritious foods suggest that only robust, well-planned plant-based diets are linked to an extended lifespan and lower risk of disease.
A healthy vegan diet is typically defined as one that's rich in minimally processed plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, with very few processed junk foods.
Meanwhile, a poorly planned vegan diet may rely heavily on sweets, processed items, and other foods that are technically vegan but very poor in nutrients.
For instance, one study claims that plant-based diets as a whole may lower your risk of dying from heart disease by 8%. However, nutritious plant-based diets lower this risk by 25% — while unhealthy ones increase it by 32%.
Another suggests that improving the quality of a plant-based diet over 12-years may reduce the likelihood of dying prematurely by 10%. Conversely, reducing its quality over the same period may result in a 12% higher risk of premature death.
This may explain why a recent review found that while vegetarians are more likely to live longer than the general population, their life expectancy is no higher than that of similarly health-conscious meat eaters.
However, few studies directly compare the effects of healthy or unhealthy vegan diets to healthy or unhealthy omnivorous ones. Overall, more research is needed.
SUMMARYPoorly planned vegan diets likely don't offer the same health benefits as nutritious versions of the diet. Nutrient-poor vegan diets may even lower your life expectancy.
The Bottom Line
Vegan diets are linked to numerous health benefits, including a lower risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease. Some evidence indicates that they may also help you live longer.
Yet, like most diets, vegan diets vary in quality. This may partly explain why vegans don't always outlive non-vegans.
If you're vegan and looking to maximize any longevity-promoting effects, replace processed foods in your diet with whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
The growing Texas solar industry is offering a safe harbor to unemployed oil and gas professionals amidst the latest oil and gas industry bust, this one brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Houston Chronicle reports.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
This month, a new era began in the fight against plastic pollution.
- Historic Agreement on Plastic Pollution Reached by 180+ Countries ... ›
- U.S. Leads the World in Plastic Waste, New Study Finds - EcoWatch ›
- EU Bans Exporting Unsorted Plastic Waste to Poorer Countries ... ›
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
- San Antonio, Texas Unveils Largest Highway Crossing for Wildlife in ... ›
- Wildlife Crossings a Huge Success - EcoWatch ›
- Climate Change Will Be Sudden and Cataclysmic Unless We Act Now ›
- There's a Heatwave at the Arctic 'Doomsday Vault' - EcoWatch ›
- Marine Heatwaves Destroy Ocean Ecosystems Like Wildfires ... ›
By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>