Eating healthier means living longer

December 22, 2010 in Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

Eating healthier means living longer

In a study that will be published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers have identified an eating pattern that's associated with a 40 percent lower risk of dying.

By 2030, it's estimated that 973 million adults will be aged 65 or older worldwide. The objective of this study was to determine the dietary patterns of 2500 older adults, aged 70 to 79, and to explore associations of these dietary patterns with risk of dying over a 10-year period. They found that diets favouring certain foods were associated with reduced mortality.

By determining how frequently people ate 108 different food items, the researchers were able to group the participants into six different "diet patterns" according to their predominant food choices:

"Healthy foods"
"High-fat dairy products"
"Meat, fried foods, and alcohol"
"Breakfast cereal"
"Refined grains"
"Sweets and desserts"

The "Healthy foods" group was characterized by a higher intake of low-fat dairy products, fruit, whole grains, poultry, fish, and vegetables, and lower consumption of meat, fried foods, sweets, high-calorie drinks, and added fat. The "High fat dairy products" group had higher intake of foods such as ice cream, cheese, and 2% and whole milk and yogurt, and lower intake of poultry, low-fat dairy products, rice, and pasta.

After taking into account gender, age, race, education, physical activity, smoking, and total calorie intake, the "High-fat dairy products" group had a 40% higher risk of dying than the "Healthy foods" group.

The "Sweets and desserts" group had a 37% higher risk. No differences in the risk of dying were seen between the "Healthy foods" group and the "Breakfast cereal" or "Refined grains" groups.

The results of this study suggest that older adults who follow a dietary pattern consistent with current guidelines to consume plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry and fish, may have a lower risk of dying.

And because a substantial percentage of older adults in this study followed the 'Healthy foods' dietary pattern, adherence to such a diet is a feasible and realistic recommendation for potentially increasing life expectancy and quality of life in older adults.

To learn more about what to eat to help you live longer, read Leslie's new book Leslie Beck's Longevity Diet.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.