Eat well at 40, be healthy at 70


Adopting a healthy diet, even in your forties, will likely increase your ability to remain healthy and disease-free as you grow older. — AFP

How can you live longer in good health?

Lifestyle is obviously a determining factor.

The importance of sleep is well established, as are the harmful effects of smoking and alcohol, but diet is also a major consideration.

Study after study has been assessing the impact of a good diet on many aspects of health, as well as determining which diet(s) and food(s) are most beneficial – or detrimental – to mental and physical health.

A team of researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the United States looked at the late adoption – in midlife – of a healthy diet, and the role this could play in long-term health.

The scientists analysed data from 106,931 people going back to 1986 and spanning a 30-year period.

All participants were at least 39 years old and free of chronic disease at the start of the research.

Data was collected every four years by means of questionnaires concerning the participants’ diets.

Presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s annual meeting, which came to a close on July 2 (2024) in Chicago, the study findings show that almost half of the participants had died by 2016 and about 9.2% had reached the age of 70 without suffering from chronic disease.

The researchers also observed that people who adopted a healthy diet from the age of 40 were 43% to 84% more likely to maintain their physical and mental health until at least age 70, compared with those who did not follow such a diet.

“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,” explains Harvard TH Chan postdoctoral fellow Dr Anne-Julie Tessier in a news release.

According to this research, a high consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, unsaturated fats (the “good” fats), nuts, legumes and low-fat dairy products was associated with greater odds of healthy ageing.

Conversely, high consumption of trans fats, sodium (salt), red meat and processed meat reduced the chances of healthy ageing.

“People who adhered to healthy dietary patterns in midlife, especially those rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains 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,” concludes Dr Tessier.

Significantly, the scientists affirm that the association between healthy eating and healthy ageing remained strong even after taking into account factors such as physical activity, that are known to impact health. – AFP Relaxnews

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Diet , nutrition , ageing


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