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Plant-Based Diets Can Extend Your Life by 12-14 Years!

Using data from the Nurses’ Health Study, a team of Harvard & Cambridge researchers determined that if people eat a healthy diet (mostly plant-based), avoid smoking, watch their weight, exercise, and keep their alcohol intake at a moderate level, their projected life expectancy will be extended by between 12-14 years (14.0 years for women, and 12.2 years for men). Wow.

This reminds me of the 2009 “Healthy Living is the Best Revenge” study which found that about 80% of all chronic diseases can be prevented, or reversed by adhering to these 4 simple lifestyle factors:
1. Eating mostly a Plant Based Diet
2. Not Smoking
3. Not being Obese
4. Exercising half an hour a day

The news gets even better as these studies only use a “mostly plant based diet” rather than a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet (WFPBD). If a similar study could be done using a WFPBD, then the number of years that people could live longer would no doubt exceed the current 12-14 year figure. It bothered me that I couldn’t find the Harvard study’s definition for a healthy diet (and that it was published on the “American Heart Association” website), so I reached out to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and asked if they could provide clarification on what was meant by a “healthy diet.”
Here is their response:

“For this study, a “healthy diet” was defined by scores on the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, a research tool developed at the School. It follows the same principles as the School’s Healthy Eating Plate, which is more user-friendly for the average person.”

The Harvard “Healthy Eating Plate” is superior to the USDA’s “MyPlate”, as the USDA’s recommendations include a ton of meat and dairy products (don’t forget that the USDA has a serious conflict of interest as they are tasked with both establishing the US Dietary Guidelines, and promoting meat and dairy products). Yikes! So, of course the USDA is going to continue to advocate for meat and dairy products, even though we have known for some time that the consumption of meat, dairy and eggs as part of the Standard American Diet (SAD), is the biggest cause of death in the US (and that a poor diet is the leading cause of death in most countries worldwide as well). 
Okay, so let’s get back to Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate. Although it is again, better than the USDA’s MyPlate recommendations, it still falls way short of a health promoting diet. This is primarily because Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate recommends added oils, some dairy and milk products, as well as many different types of meats as sources of “healthy protein” (the idea that so much emphasis is placed on protein rather than fiber is problematic in itself). Yikes again. The Harvard Healthy Eating Plate also makes no suggestions for people to try to eat organic as often as possible, and to avoid GMOs. I found their recommendations to be unsettling to say the least, so I reached out to the HSPH once again, and asked if they knew where I could go to try and determine how much money/grants Harvard & other universities receive from agrochemical companies, and the animal agriculture industry. 
Their response? There was no response, I never heard back. I sent a follow up email asking the same question, and it was ignored again. Their no response, response, spoke volumes, and also explained why they had their article published on the “American Heart Association” website as well. In case you didn’t know, the American Heart Association receives a lot of financial support from the meat and dairy industries (amongst others). And well, you can do the math. 
If you are looking for “Eating Plate” recommendations that you can completely trust, try the “Power Plate” which was created by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Click here for a link to the PCRM Power Plate.
Adopting a healthy plant-based diet does so much more than just help you live longer too (even though it is obviously awesome at doing just that!). A low fat Whole Food Plant-Based Diet is the only diet that has been proven to reverse heart disease, early stage prostate cancer and Type II diabetes. In other words, it may also help you save the life of someone you love. According to one doctor who I met recently, the only way that we know how to reverse so many diseases (when combined with other lifestyle factors, including exercise, stressing less, and love), is through a low-fat, Whole Food Plant-Based Diet. 
And according to PETA, a vegan saves nearly 200 animal lives per year, and plant-based eaters can also feel a lot better about doing their part in our fight against the climate crisis too.
Lastly, adopting a healthy plant-based diet may dramatically improve your quality of life as well, as you will be less likely to become depressed and physically limited, and more likely to be happier and active, due to your improved mental and physical health (and far less broke too by having fewer medical expenses, but that is another story). Of course there are no guarantees for any of us, and life can s*ck sometimes no matter what, but you get the idea. 
So, yeah, a 12-14 year extension on your life, and a big bump in quality of life measures as well. So, what else is there to say?
Plant-Based Diets Rock!  🙂
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