This article focuses on a research that was conducted to identify any relationship between diet and disease and mortality rates and found that avoiding ‘Western-type foods’ might reduce the risk of unhealthy aging.
The food choices you make today will have a direct impact on how gracefully you age and how long you live. These are the findings of a comprehensive new research study published in The American Journal of Medicine, which found that people who stick primarily to a “Western-style” diet marked by fried and sugary foods, processed grains, and other toxins tend to age more quickly and die younger than people who adhere to healthier diets.
Analyzing data on participants involved with the British Whitehall II cohort study, researchers from France and elsewhere compared the dietary habits of 3,775 men and 1,575 women to both chronic disease and mortality rates. Included in this analysis was a series of registry data, the results of screenings conducted on participants every five years, and hospital data, all of which was compiled and used to collectively identify any relationship between diet and disease and mortality rates.
After interpreting their findings through the lens of the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), which was designed with the intent of combating major chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes, the team determined that common Western “junk” foods were responsible for poor aging and early mortality. 4 percent of participants achieved what is considered “ideal” aging throughout their lifetimes.
Health eating equals optimal living
Ideal aging, for the purposes of the research, was determined to constitute a state of being free of chronic illness, and having high performance in mental, physical, and mental agility tests. Very few participants fell into this category, while the vast majority were determined to have experienced normal aging. Meanwhile, more than 12 percent of individuals suffered a non-fatal cardiovascular event, while more than 10 percent suffered either a cardiovascular or non-cardiovascular death.
“The impact of diet on specific age-related diseases has been studied extensively, but few investigations have adopted a more holistic approach to determine the association of diet with overall health at older ages,” said lead author Tasnime Akbaraly, Ph.D., about the quality of the research. “We examined whether diet, assessed in midlife, using dietary patterns and adherence to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), is associated with aging phenotypes, identified after a mean 16-year follow-up.”
What this all means, of course, is that individuals hoping to live long, healthy lives need to avoid eating processed foods containing refined sugars and flours and processed or hydrogenated vegetable oils. A diet composed of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables; grass-fed, pastured meat and dairy products; healthy saturated fats; and living “superfoods,” on the other hand, could hold the key to avoiding the negative outcomes observed through the study.
“We showed that following specific dietary recommendations such as the one provided by the AHEI may be useful in reducing the risk of unhealthy aging, while avoidance of the ‘Western-type foods’ might actually improve the possibility of achieving older ages free of chronic diseases and remaining highly functional,” added Dr. Akbaraly.
“A better understanding of the distinction between specific health behaviors that offer protection against diseases and those that move individuals towards ideal aging may facilitate improvements in public health prevention packages.”