Is it true that the more you eat, the sooner you die? Or is it pseudoscience? Here comes the definitive study

What’s affecting how long we live? By analyzing data on the global burden of disease from 1990 to 2016, the researchers found that besides tobacco, cardiovascular disease and other risks, diet was also an important factor.

There is little debate in the scientific community about the idea of eating less, so how and when does eating less work? New research in the journal Nature gives us the answer.

The more you eat, the sooner you die. You should adjust your diet as soon as possible

The scientists, from the Max Planck Institute for The Biology of Ageing in Germany, the University of Cologne, the Babraham Institute in the UK and University College London, studied this in mice, using 800 mice to switch to late-stage diet restriction.

They found that if adult mice ate 40 percent less than those who ate at will, those with food restrictions lived healthier and longer lives in old age. If the restricted mice switched to eating at will over a period of time, the mortality rate was significantly higher than before, meaning that the long-term benefit would come from a sustained reduction in food intake.

Moreover, if older mice ate at will when they were young and switched to a restricted diet later in life, the genetic activity of fat tissue was similar to that of mice that ate at will, even after weight loss, because fat tissue has a memory effect. Thus, establishing long-term, consistent reductions in food intake early in life has beneficial effects on health and longevity in old age.

Prof Partridge said: “Changing your diet late in life may not be as good for your lifespan. Health is a lifelong process.”

China is the epicenter of bad eating habits

In 2019, the Lancet published a blockbuster global study spanning nearly 30 years on the mortality and disease burden caused by diet in 195 countries and regions.

In 2017, China ranked first among the world’s 20 most populous countries in terms of mortality from cardiovascular diseases and cancers due to its diet structure, much higher than the United States, which is known for its love of high-sugar and high-oil diets. Why is the mortality rate in China so high due to dietary problems?

Many people think sugar and fat are the biggest killers, but in fact, the top three leading causes of death are diets high in sodium, low in whole grains and low in fruit. In 2017 alone, there were 3 million deaths due to high-sodium diets, less than 3 million due to whole-grain intake, and less than 2 million due to fruit consumption.

  1. Excessive sodium

High sodium diets have long been seen as the number one killer, but in this study, China’s sodium intake rose to become the highest in the world. A long-term diet high in sodium is a cause of many diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, and the world’s highest sodium intake has kept China on the death list.

  1. Insufficient fruit intake

In terms of fruit intake, the passing recommendation is 100g per day, with the best recommendation being 250g, which China does not even meet, let alone the best recommendation.

  1. Intake of whole grains

As with fruit, China’s intake of grains fell short of the pass mark, as did neighbouring Japan and South Korea.

  1. Intake of omega-3 fatty acids

Japan has one of the lowest all-cause mortality rates in the world, but the fact is that the Japanese eat more processed meat, sugary drinks and trans fats than The Chinese. Why are they so much less likely to die from their diet?

The key, the study suggests, is the amount of omega-3 fatty acids consumed. In the ranking of omega-3 fatty acid intake, China’s data is only half of the recommended amount, while Japan far exceeds the recommended amount and even exceeds the table limit, easily surpassing Western Europe, North America, Australia and other countries, not to mention China.

Omega-3 fatty acids are commonly found in deep-sea fish and have a lot to do with the Japanese diet.

So, how exactly should we eat it?

So what should we eat to reduce this risk? The Lancet study gives recommendations for a variety of foods, and in conjunction with China’s Dietary Guidelines for Chinese residents, Xiao Jiu makes the following points.

A low sodium diet

In the Dietary Guidelines for Chinese Residents (2016), the recommended daily intake is less than 6 grams, while the Lancet’s recommendation is more stringent, with the best standard being around 3 grams.

According to the Lancet, Chinese people consume an average of more than 8 grams of salt per day. A 2012 survey by The Interpretation of China’s Dietary Guidelines put the average daily salt intake of Chinese people at 10.5 grams, far exceeding the standard. Reduce your sodium intake by eating less salt, deliberately avoiding high-salt foods, and using less salt in your cooking.

Eat more fruit

The Lancet’s recommended daily allowance of fruit is 250g, or half a kilo, with the cut-off set at 100g. China’s Dietary Guidelines suggest adults consume between 200 and 350 grams of fruit a day, close to the Lancet’s recommendations.

Fruit is rich in a variety of vitamins, dietary fiber and other nutritional elements, eat more fruit is very good for health.

Coarse grains instead of refined rice

A total of 125 grams of whole grains per day may not seem like much, but the actual amount is far from that. Chinese people are used to eating refined rice flour. As refined rice flour has not been highly evaluated in terms of diet health, they can eat more refined rice flour and replace the refined rice flour they usually eat.

Don’t relax about other unhealthy factors

Red meat, trans fats, and sugary drinks ranked low in the study, but that doesn’t mean we should let down our guard and binge, or make a conscious effort to limit our intake.

To stay healthy, stick to the right diet, but don’t go to extremes. Skipping salt, eating fruit for every meal, and skipping meals for diet are all overkill. Moderation is the healthiest.