Planetary Health Diet linked to 30% lower risk of premature death

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |
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Vegetables are a main staple of the Planetary Health Diet. Diana Krykavska/Getty Images
  • The Planetary Health Diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables as well as protein from plant-based sources.
  • In a new study, researchers said the diet can lower the risk of premature death by 30%.
  • They added that the diet also has environmental benefits for the planet.

Closely following the Planetary Health Diet may reduce the risk of premature death by 30%.

That’s according to research published today in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In their study, researchers say the Planetary Health Diet reduced the risk of every major cause of death, including heart disease, cancer, and lung disease for research participants.

They add the plant-based diet can also help the environment.

“Shifting how we eat can help slow the process of climate change. And what’s healthiest for the planet is also healthiest for humans,” Dr. Walter Willett, a co-author of the research and the chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Massachusetts, said in a press statement.

“The findings show just how linked human and planetary health are. Eating healthfully boosts environmental sustainability — which in turn is essential for the health and wellbeing of every person on Earth,” he added.

The Planetary Health Diet emphasizes plant-based foods as well as foods that are sustainable for the environment.

A plate of food that follows the diet is made up of about half a plate of fruits and vegetables. The other half of the plate includes whole grains, unsaturated plant oils, plant protein sources, and optional modest amounts of protein from animal sources.

“These foods provide abundant essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids that our body needs to stay Healthy and prevent chronic disease. The diet also limits consumption of red and processed meat due to the higher environmental impact of these foods and their association with conditions like colorectal cancer and heart disease. By endorsing this diet, we can promote both human and planetary Health,” Anna Arthur, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition at the University of Kansas Medical Center, told Medical News Today.

“I do believe the Planetary Health Diet is a promising path forward to reduce the burden of chronic disease,” added Arthur, who was not involved in the study. “However, it is still important to consider individual preferences, cultural values, and nutritional needs when it comes to making dietary recommendations and adjusting the pattern accordingly. People interested in following this diet may benefit from working with a registered dietitian nutritionist who can guide them in adopting the diet while ensuring individual dietary needs and preferences are met.”

Christopher Gardner, PhD, is the chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee as well as a professor of medicine at Stanford University in California.

He argues one of the benefits of the Planetary Health Diet is that it may provide an additional motivating factor for some people.

“What I find challenging is motivating people to make substantive changes in their diet for the sake of their own Health – many people are willing to postpone or delay making Healthy diet improvements when they think that the only one they are impacting is themselves with these choices,” Gardner, who wasn’t involved in the study, told Medical News Today.

“The Planetary Health Diet actually provides a different kind of motivation,” he added. “It helps to make it clear that our personal dietary choices have an impact on our neighbors, community, state, nation, and world when all of those food choice decisions are considered collectively. The opportunity is here to make use of this Planetary Health Diet information to align personal Health with planetary Health, and perhaps to help motivate someone to make a change and sustain that change for the sake of not only themselves, but for society as well. In our research we have found this is an important potential motivator for meaningful dietary change.”

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