Prolonging Life – Healthy Ageing

September 11, 2018 in Health, Uncategorized by Joyce Bunderson

A new study published on line August 30, 2018, in Cambridge University’s British Journal of Nutrition might stay under the radar. Why? There are a couple of reasons from my perspective. One is that a study about the elderly is not exciting and flashy (although this one really does have application for younger populations.) Second, it’s not a wild and crazy diet-of-the-day style of eating; which seem to attract so much media attention.

So what did they study? The study focused on individuals aged 65 and over from the Molise region of southern Italy. All the participants had participated in an earlier study from as early as 2005 to 2015. This gave them a baseline for following up the same people studied earlier, about whom they already knew a lot. The researchers graded the participants on how closely they were currently sticking to a Mediterranean diet (scores between 0 and 9). Those who closely adhered to a Mediterranean diet (7 to 9) were 25 percent less likely to die from any cause compared to those who didn’t stick to the diet (0 to 3).

So 25 percent less likely to die from any cause seems motivating for older people to follow that eating style. The researchers did identify one confounding factor. Those who were more closely adhering to the Mediterranean style of eating were also more likely to be doing physical exercise.

I’ve only been to Italy twice in my life; but on those trips I recognized some things that could certainly be confounding factors to the diet. Oh my goodness, it’s so amazingly beautiful and the countryside is so serene; certainly, it makes me think you could live almost forever surrounded by those esthetics. But alas, we all can’t live in Italy. I live in the beautiful mountain west of the U.S. and try to keep the Mediterranean style of eating predominantly on our table; we believe it contributes to helping our aging selves to stay healthy.

Studies are starting to pop up (see The Lancet Public Health) showing a negative association between life expectancy and both low carbohydrate and high carbohydrate diets. The Lancet study provided further evidence that animal-based low carbohydrate diets should be discouraged. While the Keto style of eating, fasting and many other restrictive eating styles are presently raging in the public, hopefully the public will realize that flashy is not necessarily the healthiest choice, especially for long-term health.

These two studies linked above provide on-going and growing body of evidence that the Mediterranean style of eating is an excellent style of eating to promote health and longevity. Not just for the elderly, but for all. Let me add here that the DASH diet is essentially the Mediterranean style of eating with a low sodium focus. So either way you want to look at it, DASH or Mediterranean, in essence both are promoted by the two new studies.

Don’t just depend on the style of eating; remember that the ones with extended life spans were also more likely to be exercising. Eat well, and exercise well!

Sure the studies don’t promote a flashy or strange outcome; but they may support a long-term approach to promote healthy ageing. Heaven knows, only the blessed among us; has an opportunity for a long life and healthy aging.