Recently I was interviewed about the effects of diet on the aging process. Some of the best answers we have now about diet and aging center around eating a Mediterranean style diet. This doesn't just mean eating Greek salads or hummus. It is about eating more fruits and nuts; less red meat (and lean red meats); more fish; getting fats from healthy vegetable oils; less dairy products; more legumes like peanuts, beans, peas and lentils; more vegetables; more cereals and whole grains and alcohol in moderation.
Just changing two of these nine categories can lead to a 25% reduction in death from heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Here's some interesting research about each category that supports what an impact diet can have on aging:
Each additional serving of fruit and vegetables per day reduces your risk of heart disease by 4%.
In the Polyp Prevention Trial the top 25% eating the most beans had a 65% reduction in recurrence of colon polyps and almost a 50% reduction in more advanced colon tumors.
Eating legumes such as peas, beans and peanuts four or more times per week reduces the risk of heart disease by as much as 22%.
Fruits & Nuts
In a study of men between the ages of 60 and 79 (none with a previous diagnosis of heart attack, stroke or diabetes) researchers found a decrease in the inflammatory markers in those men with higher intakes of Vitamin C from food. They did not find the same to be true in those taking Vitamin C in pill form.
Among men, higher fiber intake means a lower risk of weight gain: up to 48% for the highest intake of fiber. For women, those eating the most fiber have a decreased risk of weight gain of 19%.
A study of about 5,000 people 65 years of age or older recruited from Medicare eligibility lists looked at the difference in amount of cereal fiber between the highest-consuming group and the lowest-consuming group. The difference was modest at only about 2 slices of whole grain bread per day. However, the reduction in risk of heart attack was over 20% in those eating more cereal grains.
In 229 diabetic women with proven heart disease researchers looked at the evaluated their consumption of fish. Those eating the most fish had significantly less progression of their heart disease over a three year period.
The studies of Mediterranean diet show that the less whole milk and the more processed dairy (yogurt & cheese) the lower the risk of disease.
One group studied 815 senior citizens to evaluate the role diet might play in Alzheimer's disease. They found a clear correlation between diets high in saturated fat and trans fats and the risk of Alzheimer's disease. The results showed almost double the risk of Alzheimer's dementia in those eating the most of these types of fats.
Intake of saturated fat and trans-fat associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Those men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study who drank one-half to two drinks per day had the lowest risk for heart attack of all the participants. Drinking more than two drinks per day also showed a reduced risk of heart attack, but not as high a reduction as those who drank less than two drinks per day.
It's easy to make simple changes in your life and your diet. We know that even small changes—eating more whole grains and legumes, for instance—can have a profound effect on the aging process.
Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!
For more information visit: