PEOPLE WITH HEALTHY DIETS IN MIDLIFE ‘MORE LIKELY TO ACHIEVE HEALTHY AGEING’

Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and wholegrains in your forties could be the key to healthy living at the age of 70, new research suggests.

A study found that fewer than one in 10 people were able to live free of disease and maintain good physical and mental health, and the ability to think, learn, and remember clearly to 70-years-old and beyond.

But sticking to a healthy diet in midlife could increase a person’s chance of achieving healthy ageing, the findings suggest.

People who adhered to healthy dietary patterns in midlife, especially those rich in fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and healthy fats, were significantly more likely to achieve healthy ageing

Dr Anne-Julie Tessier

According to researchers, the study indicates that as well as disease prevention, dietary recommendations should consider promoting overall healthy ageing as a long-term goal.

Anne-Julie Tessier, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, in the US, said: “People who adhered to healthy dietary patterns in midlife, especially those rich in fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and healthy fats, were significantly more likely to achieve healthy ageing.

“This suggests that what you eat in midlife can play a big role in how well you age.”

People who followed a healthy diet from their forties onwards were 43%-84% more likely to be well-functioning physically and mentally at age 70 compared to those who did not, the research found.

Our study provides evidence for dietary recommendations to consider not only disease prevention but also promoting overall healthy ageing as a long-term goal

Dr Anne-Julie Tessier

Dr Tessier said: “Traditionally, research and derived dietary guidelines have focused on preventing chronic diseases like heart disease.

“Our study provides evidence for dietary recommendations to consider not only disease prevention but also promoting overall healthy ageing as a long-term goal.”

Looking at specific food, the study found that higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, unsaturated fats, nuts, legumes and low-fat dairy were associated with greater odds of healthy ageing.

Eating more trans fat, sodium, total meats, red and processed meats was associated with lower odds of healthy ageing.

The researchers say their study is unique in its focus on healthy ageing — defined not just as the absence of disease but the ability to live independently and enjoy a good quality of life as we grow older.

The findings are based on data from more than 100,000 people spanning 30 years.

People were at least 39-years-old and free of chronic diseases at the start of the study and provided information about their diet through questionnaires every four years.

As of 2016, nearly half of the people in the study had died and some 9.2% survived to age 70 or older while maintaining freedom from chronic diseases and good physical, cognitive and mental health.

This diet is based on the EAT Lancet Commission’s report ... The fact that it emerged as one of the leading dietary patterns associated with healthy ageing is particularly interesting because it supports that we can eat a diet that may benefit both our health and the planet

Dr Anne-Julie Tessier

Dr Tessier said a finding that stood out was the association between the planetary health diet and healthy ageing, which was associated with a 68% greater chance of healthy ageing.

She explained: “This diet is based on the EAT Lancet Commission’s report which emphasises fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, plant proteins and healthy fats from sustainable sources.

“The fact that it emerged as one of the leading dietary patterns associated with healthy ageing is particularly interesting because it supports that we can eat a diet that may benefit both our health and the planet.”

According to the findings, presented at Nutrition 2024, the flagship annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, the ties between diet and healthy ageing remained strong even when physical activity and other factors that are known to impact health were taken into account.

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2024-07-02T15:07:48Z dg43tfdfdgfd