The path to healthy aging is paved with a healthy diet

Posted by on Nov 6, 2013 in aging, diet | 0 comments

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Ladies, listen up! ┬áHave you heard the adage ‘a ripe old age?’ Well, researchers involved in the ongoing Nurses Health Study are reporting that an important key to healthy aging is diet. However, it’s not just any diet so before you convince yourselves that you’ve won the golden ticket, let me share that the focus is on modified Mediterranean, i.e. a diet rich in plant foods, whole grains, fish or omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, a moderate intake of alcohol and a lower intake of red and processed meats.

For decades, experts have been sharing that people that follow a strict Mediterranean diet die less often from heart disease and cancer, have lower rates of stroke, cognitive impairment and depression and overall possess improved physical well-being and functioning. However, questions have remained with regard both to timing and also the exact dietary patterns.

Fortunately, a thorough review of dietary reports provided over a 15 year period by 10,670 women in their 50s and 60s shows that commitment to healthy eating in midlife provides women with a 40% greater likelihood of healthy aging.

So, what does ‘healthy aging’ mean exactly?

The researchers report that for the most part, and compared to ‘usual agers,’ healthy agers were free from chronic disease, were less likely to be obese and tended to suffer less from high blood pressure and high cholesterol. They also had fewer cognitive, physical or mental health issues or limitations. Most importantly, the benefits relied upon the ‘best of both worlds dietary habits,” i.e. a combination of an ‘alternative healthy eating index,’ (i.e. greater intake of veggies, less potatoes, fruits (excluding juice), whole grains, nuts, legumes, polyunsaturated fats and a lower intake of red or processed meats, juices, sugar, trans fats and sodium) and a traditional Mediterranean diet (i.e. veggies (excluding potatoes), fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish and monounsaturated fats, and a lower intake of red or processed meats and alcohol), which was found to boost health years later.

In addition to diet, another important takeaway from this information is the importance of the midlife time point: starting out on a healthy course in midlife predicted the likelihood of healthy aging, good health and overall well-being. The conclusion? No time like the present to make important dietary changes.



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