A new study has found that making changes in your diet at a young age could add up to 13 years to your life, according to CNN.

Using a mode, researchers analyzed what happens to people’s longevity if they replaced a “typical Western diet” with an “optimized diet.”

A typical Western diet includes red meat and processed foods. On the other hand, an optimized diet is focused on eating less red and processed meat and consuming more fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts.

The study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, found that if women started with an optimized diet at age 20, they could increase their lifespan by just over 10 years, and if men began eating optimally at age 20, they could add 13 years to their lives.

Following a healthier diet could also increase the life expectancy of older adults. The study for that by starting an optimized diet at age 60, women could increase their lifespan by 8 years and men could add nearly 9 years to their lives.

Dr. David Katz, a specialist in Preventive Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine, said, “The notion that improving diet quality would reduce the risk of chronic disease and premature death is long-established, and it only stands to reason that less chronic disease and premature death means more life expectancy.”

He said, “What they define as an ‘optimal’ diet is not quite optimal; it’s just a whole lot better than ‘typical,’ adding that he felt diet could be “further improved, conferring even greater benefits.”

Dr. Katz, who was not part of the study, explained, “My impression is that their ‘much improved’ diet still allowed for considerable doses of meat and dairy,” adding that when his team scores diet quality objectively, “these elements are at quite low levels in the top tier.”

The study also found that longevity was associated with eating more legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils, whole grains, nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pecans, and pistachios. However, Americans fail to include more plants and grains in their diet.

Very few Americans meet their daily recommendation of fruits and vegetables, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Research has shown that red and processed meats increase the risk of coronary heart disease and bowel cancer.

Epidemiologist Tim Key previously told CNN, “There’s substantial evidence that processed meat can cause bowel cancer – so much so that the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified it as carcinogenic since 2015.”

Some experts say switching from red and processed meat to lean poultry, fish, and plant proteins is one way to improve a diet quickly.

You can even replace animal protein with plant proteins such as soybeans, chickpeas, lentils and other legumes, tofu, tempeh, nuts, and seeds.

In fact, a 2020 study found that people who ate the most plant protein were 27% less likely to die of any cause and 29% less likely to die of coronary heart disease. Dr. Frank Hu, the study author, told CNN, “The benefit is more pronounced when red and processed meats are replaced by plant protein sources.”