As a health and wellness consultant and anti-aging specialist, I’m frequently asked this question by women in their 40s and 50s: What should I eat or what type of anti-aging diet can achieve my goal of healthy aging?
To answer this question, I take a look at the vast number of population studies which have assessed the effects of specific diets upon health, and especially, healthy aging.
Such is the case with some new research published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers were looking at the effect of diet and healthy aging. More than 10,000 women who were an average age of 59 participated in the study, and had their dietary intake watched for two years. At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had any evidence of chronic diseases. There was a 15-year follow up.
So what constituted “healthy aging” to begin with? It was defined as:
- Survival to age 70 or beyond
- No major chronic disease, no cognitive impairments, no physical impairments and absence of mental health issues.
The women who ate healthy foods, (defined as close to a Mediterranean diet) were 34% more likely to achieve healthy aging than women who did not eat healthy foods. The women who had the highest alternative Mediterranean diet scores were 46% more likely to experience healthy aging relative to the women who had the lowest Mediterranean diet scores!
This is simply an incredible difference in the quality of aging experienced, just based on the role of an anti-aging diet and anti-aging foods—and it just shows you the importance of eating healthy foods.
What can you learn about the importance of following an anti-aging diet?
If healthy aging is your goal, then perhaps you should consider trying the Mediterranean diet. This isn’t the first study to find that the healthy foods that make up the Mediterranean diet can prevent diseases, reduce mortality, and encourage healthy aging. You might as well call it the diet filled with anti-aging foods!
This type of diet consists of eating lots of vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, legumes, extra virgin olive oil, fruit, avocado, goat cheese and wine—but what’s also important to remember is that not only do you eat lots of healthy foods on this anti-aging diet, but you also avoid unhealthy foods, namely sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, trans fat, fast food and processed foods. These foods should definitely not be part of your anti-aging diet, because they do nothing to help healthy aging.
Some of my top anti-aging foods which encourage healthy aging are oily fish, garlic, olive oil, and berries (you can learn more here).
So to answer your question regarding which anti-aging foods you need to start eating and the best anti-aging diet, I would have to say the Mediterranean diet, of course!
“Mediterranean diet tied to better health late in life,” CBC News web site, November 4, 2013;http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/mediterranean-diet-tied-to-better-health-late-in-life-1.2356011, last accessed November 5, 2013.
Samieri, C., etal.,“The Association Between Dietary Patterns at Midlife and Health in Aging: An Observational Study,”Ann Intern Med 2013;159(9):584-591.