Planet-Friendly Diets Linked to Reduced Risk of Chronic Illness and Mortality

Planet-Friendly Diets Linked to Reduced Risk of Chronic Illness and Mortality

…By for TDPel Media. Researchers have found that adopting a planet-friendly diet, rich in plant-based foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, can potentially reduce a person’s risk of death from cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses by 25%.


These findings were presented at the Nutrition 2023 annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Boston, where scientists unveiled the Planetary Health Diet Index (PHDI), a new diet score that considers the impact of food on human health and the environment.

The Planetary Health Diet Index (PHDI):

The PHDI assesses the impact of foods on chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and bowel cancer, as well as environmental factors like water use, land use, nutrient pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

By incorporating existing research on the health benefits of plant-based foods over red and processed meats, the researchers aim to provide a tool that can help policymakers and public health organizations develop strategies to enhance public health while addressing climate change.


Linking Diet and Mortality Risk:

To validate the PHDI, the researchers analyzed data from more than 100,000 individuals in the US from 1986 to 2018.

Over the course of more than 30 years, more than 47,000 participants passed away.

Results indicated that individuals with higher PHDI scores experienced a 15% lower risk of death from cancer or heart diseases, a 20% lower risk of death from neurodegenerative diseases, and an impressive 50% lower risk of death from respiratory diseases.

Considerations and Future Implications:

Linh Bui, a PhD student at Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health, emphasized the importance of adapting the PHDI to suit different countries’ food cultures and validating its associations with chronic diseases and environmental impacts like carbon footprint, water usage, and land use.

While the findings highlight the benefits of planet-friendly diets, Bui acknowledged that individuals with specific health conditions or food accessibility challenges might encounter difficulties in adopting such dietary patterns.



The research reveals a strong connection between planet-friendly diets and reduced risks of chronic illnesses and mortality.

Emphasizing the significance of plant-based foods in promoting both individual health and environmental well-being, the PHDI offers valuable insights for policymakers and public health organizations to design interventions that can improve public health while also addressing environmental concerns.

However, the researchers acknowledge the need for further adaptations and validation to account for diverse cultural and health-related factors in different populations.


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