A new paper, published on July 13 in the New England Journal of Medicine by researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, finds evidence that switching to and maintaining a healthy diet over time, offers increasingly reduced risk of premature death.
Walter Willett, co-chair of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health is one of the study’s authors. It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that the Commission and the study agree on a crucial issue about how to understand dietary health: Good health, the study says, is the product of a healthy eating pattern, and a whole-diet approach, not focusing on exact quantities of specific nutrients.
EAT-Lancet Commissioners have also described foods as “packages” that contains a range of nutrients – sometimes both healthy and unhealthy. This recent study backs up their point of view, arguing that the best way to promote health is by establishing dietary patterns that contain foods, and combinations of foods, that are healthy together.
Taking this whole-diet approach a step further, the EAT-Lancet Commission is working to define dietary patterns that are both healthy and sustainable, and can easily be replicated by people making decisions about what to shop for, cook and eat. This new study is a welcome piece of evidence that the approach they’re taking can lead to long-term change – healthier people and a healthier planet.