Want to Slow down the Aging Process? Science Says Improve Your Diet

A new study released this spring by Columbia University has revealed good news for seniors about the impact of a healthy diet on the aging process.

How Diet Impacts the Aging Process

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For seniors heading into retirement who want to make the most of their golden years, it’s a good idea to think hard about what you’re putting in your body.

Do Fewer Calories Equal Fewer Wrinkles?

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One study showed that eating just 12% fewer calories had a noticeable impact on the aging process for some seniors. Another study found that the Mediterranean diet, which consists mostly of seafood, fruits, and vegetables, could slow signs of aging.

Dementia Risks Lowered With Healthy Diet

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In more good news, rates of dementia are also impacted by eating better. Scientists have found that nutrients affect the brain in different ways, and certain ones can have a positive effect on the development of dementia.

Nutrition is Key to Dementia Prevention, Says Expert

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“Much attention to nutrition in dementia research focuses on the way specific nutrients affect the brain,” said Dr. Daniel Belsky. Dr. Belsky works for Columbia University as an associate professor of epidemiology and was one of the authors of the study.

“A Healthy Diet Protects Against Dementia”

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“We tested the hypothesis that a healthy diet protects against dementia by slowing down the body’s overall pace of biological aging,” Dr. Belsky said.

Focusing on Diet Can Slow Aging

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Put simply, if older adults want to age at a slower pace and reduce their risk of developing dementia, they should focus on the food they consume.

Specific Diets Recommended

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The study specifically focused on the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet, both of which are considered beneficial for heart health. According to the research, these diets also have the ability to slow down the aging process.

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

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The Mediterranean diet is based around eating a plant-based diet, consuming healthy fats, and getting in as many whole grains as possible. It has been proven to have positive effects on overall health in addition to its potential benefits to the aging process.

Components of a Mediterranean Diet

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This diet recommends eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains at every meal. It calls for adding fish, nuts, and legumes to the diet at least three times a week.

What to Avoid on a Mediterranean Diet

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Ideally, poultry, dairy, eggs, red meat, and sugary foods are limited on the Mediterranean diet. By focusing on nutrients sourced from vegetables and whole grains, the body’s aging process is slowed.

What is the DASH Diet?

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The DASH diet, also known as the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension plan, is recommended by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to help reduce blood pressure in some people.

Components of the DASH Diet

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This diet is very similar to the Mediterranean diet, encouraging vegetables, whole grains, and fruits instead of high fat foods and sweets. It suggests getting protein from sources like fish, low-fat dairy, beans, and nuts instead of red meat.

The Importance of Whole Grains

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On the DASH diet, it is recommended to get at least 6 servings of whole grains each day. This can be accomplished with certain types of bread, rice, quinoa, and other nutrient-dense grains.

A “Speedometer for the Biological Processes of Aging”

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The researchers who found that these diets slow the aging process used a method called Dunedin PACE, which Dr. Belsky called “a speedometer for the biological processes of aging.”

What is the MIND Diet?

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Studying a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets known as the MIND diet (Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), the researchers found that people who adhered to this diet had a much lower risk of developing dementia.

MIND Diet Slows Aging Processes in the Brain

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The reason for this, they found, is that the diet caused those people’s bodies to age at a slower rate, including their brains. The results of this study show great promise for seniors on the cusp of retirement who want to make the best of their golden years.

More Research on the Horizon

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One of the study’s authors, Dr. Aline Thomas, said that there is still work to be done to understand the connection between the diet and the brain’s aging process.

“A Portion of the Diet-Dementia Association Remains Unexplained”

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“A portion of the diet-dementia association remains unexplained,” said Dr. Thomas. “Therefore, we believe that continued investigation of brain-specific mechanisms in well-designed mediation studies is warranted.”

Eat Better to Live Longer

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For now, seniors hoping to prolong enjoyment of their retirement and protect their brains from signs of dementia may want to consider the benefits of the Mediterranean and DASH diets.

The post Want to Slow Down the Aging Process? Science Says Improve Your Diet first appeared on Mama Say What?!

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