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HomeWellnessDietCan your diet affect how well you age?

Can your diet affect how well you age?

Nutritional quality has benefits in maintaining a healthy life. In a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers determined whether an inflammatory diet can affect the process of healthy aging.

Unhealthy dietary patterns can lead to more than just weight gain. The effects of an unhealthy diet can deprive the body of adequate levels of vitamins, proteins, minerals and healthy fats. Instead, an unhealthy diet often includes saturated fats, sugar, cholesterol and sodium. Abundant consumption of these nutrient-lacking substances is known to lead to chronic medical conditions and disruption of the healthy aging process.

What is the role of chronic inflammation on the healthy aging process?

For the middle-aged community, signs of aging become biologically clear as more cells stop dividing, mitochondria begin to dysfunction, and chromosomes gradually lose their strength. Inflammation is proposed to be responsible for these failing biological features that are associated with aging. Since most chronic conditions begin as an inflammatory response, investigating the role of chronic inflammation and its effects on the healthy aging process in a middle-aged group of French participants seemed fitting for a group of researchers in the United Kingdom. They published their results in the Journal of Nutrition.

Due to strong correlations between inflammation and age-related diseases, their study used the Dietary Inflammation Index to assess inflammation biomarkers. They used these inflammation biomarkers to estimate the inflammatory potential in the overall diet.  Their goal was to examine the association between the inflammatory index and aging in a healthy manner, with healthy aging being identified as maintaining a low risk of disease and elevated physical and cognitive function.

For the study, they gave a placebo or nutritious dose of antioxidant supplement to 2,796 participants between 45 and 60 years of age. These participants were initially diabetic, had cardiovascular disease, and were cancer free. Administered for one year and 13 years before the healthy aging assessment, the supplements consisted of 120 mg vitamin C, 6 mg β-carotene, 30 mg vitamin E, 100 μg Selenium, and 20 mg of Zinc. With the belief that these supplements could promote a healthy aging process, the resulting high scores on the Dietary Inflammation Index signified a more proinflammatory diet.

During the assessment period, the researchers collected the Dietary Inflammation Index scores. To define the participants who experienced healthy aging, they looked at the absence of major chronic disease, good physical and cognitive functioning, independence in daily activities, good social health, the absence of depressive symptoms, lack of function-limiting pain, and good self-perceived health.

Pro-inflammatory diets may lower the probability of healthy aging

The resulting data led researchers of this study to suggest that a proinflammatory diet may lower the probability of overall healthy aging. Overall, this investigation suggests a relationship between the preservation of a good overall health status during the aging process and quality dietary patterns that are high in fiber and in micronutrients. In this, the ability of the Dietary Inflammation Index to capture the potential of pro- or anti-inflammatory conditions may deem helpful in assuming future healthy profiles for middle-aged adults.

Written by Viola Lanier, PhD, MSc

Reference: Karen E Assmann, Moufidath Adjibade, Nitin Shivappa, James R Hébert, Michael D Wirth, Mathilde Touvier, Tasnime Akbaraly, Serge Hercberg, Pilar Galan, Chantal Julia,  and Emmanuelle Kesse-Guyot. The Inflammatory Potential of the Diet at Midlife Is Associated with Later Healthy Aging in French Adults. The Journal of Nutrition. 2018 March 12.



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