A new study has found that adopting a healthy plant-based diet can slow down the human body’s aging process.
The study was conducted among a large group of Asian participants over a long period of time to determine the connection between plant-based diets and aging. But since the aging process is complex and varies among individuals, the researchers used a newly developed biological age biomarker, called MDAge, to measure aging in the study participants to understand it better.
MDAge integrates multiple biomarkers relevant to physical functions and provides information about overall health. This tool was found to be a more accurate measure of aging than chronological age, as it better predicted all-cause mortality, explain the authors.
Using these biomarkers, the researchers identified three distinct aging trajectories, slow, medium, and high degree. Participants with high or medium-degree trajectories had a higher risk of death than those in the slow-aging trajectory group.
Interestingly, the study also found that individuals who followed an overall plant-based dietary pattern were less likely to be in the high or medium aging trajectories.
Slowing or accelerating aging
The study also highlighted the importance of distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy plant-based diets. While overall plant-based dietary patterns were associated with a lower risk of accelerated aging, unhealthy plant-based diets were not as beneficial.
The research showed that consuming fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes was associated with a lower risk of accelerated aging. On the other hand, a diet high in refined grains, salt-preserved vegetables, and high in sugar was associated with an increased risk of accelerated aging.
According to the authors, these findings add to the growing body of evidence showing the benefits of a plant-based diet for overall health and wellbeing. Plant-based diets have been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as better age-related neurological health, including a lower risk of dementia and cognitive impairment.
However, the authors note that further research is needed to confirm these findings and explore the potential benefits of plant-based diets in different populations.
The international NGO the Physicians Association for Nutrition (PAN) recently published a paper recommending legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, and wholegrains as the healthiest and most environmentally sustainable protein options. But it also recognized plant-based meat as a “healthy, sustainable and convenient alternative to animal meat.”
“Our findings suggested that increasing the intake of healthy plant-based foods while reducing the intake of unhealthy plant-based foods and certain animal foods slows down the aging process in an Asian population,” concludes the study.
The study Association between plant-based dietary pattern and biological aging trajectory in a large prospective cohort has been published in BMC Medicine as an open source.