A new study has found that implementing a healthier diet pattern is associated with 25 per cent lower likelihood of developing physical impairment that comes with ageing.
One of the most important factors of healthy ageing is the ability to maintain independence and to physically care for themselves.
Basic physical functions – everyday tasks like bathing, getting dressed, carrying groceries or walking up a flight of stairs is affected by a person’s diet. That is not to say that all forms of physical unction are retained.
A recent study published in the ‘Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging’ led by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital examined the role of a healthy diet and finds that this highly modifiable factor can have a large influence on maintaining physical function.
Senior author, Francine Grodstein said, “Diet can have specific effects on our health and can also affect our wellbeing and physical independence as we get older.” She also added, “What excites me about our findings is the notion that we have some influence over our physical independence as we get older. Even if people can’t completely change their diet, there are some relatively simple dietary changes people can make that may influence their ability to maintain physical function, such as eating more vegetables and nuts.”
Grodstein and her colleague Kaitlin Hagan examined data from a total of 12,658 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, tracking them from 2008 to 2012.
The criteria they used included six food categories for which higher intake are better (vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and legumes, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids).
It was proved that one food category for which moderate intake is better (alcohol), and four categories for which lower intake is better (sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit juice, red and processed meats, trans fatty acids and sodium).
Grodstein and Hagan found that higher diet scores (meaning better diet quality) were strongly associated with decreased odds of physical impairment, including a 25 per cent lower likelihood of developing impairment in physical function with aging.
However, the team did see that greater intake of vegetables, nuts, and lower intake of red or processed meats and sugar-sweetened beverages each modestly lowered risk of impairment.