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American Diet: Avoid It To Live Long and Age Well, Says Study

Tuesday, 16 Apr 2013 02:27 PM

By Robin Farmer

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If you want to live long and age well, medical researchers recommend you ditch the typical American diet which is high in sweets, processed and fried food, red meat, high-fat dairy products, and refined grains.

Eating such popular foods may damage your health and longevity, according to a new study in the May issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

The 16-year study followed British adults who adopted a typical “Western-style diet” and a group that did not. Those that ate like many Americans “increased their risk of cardiovascular and noncardiovascular death” and were at a lower risk of ideal aging, said the researchers.

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Over the course of the study, 5,350 men and women with a mean age of 51 years were followed. Every five years, researchers compiled data that included eating habits, hospital records, and mortality rates.

“The impact of diet on specific age-related diseases has been studied extensively, but few investigations have adopted a more holistic approach to determine the association of diet with overall health at older ages,” said lead investigator Tasnime Akbaraly, department of epidemiology and public health at the University College London, reported Science Daily. “We examined whether diet, assessed in midlife, using dietary patterns and adherence to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, is associated with aging phenotypes, identified after a mean 16-year follow-up.”

The AHEI is an index used to calculate diet quality as well as provide dietary guidelines to help combat chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

"We showed that following specific dietary recommendations such as the one provided by the AHEI may be useful in reducing the risk of unhealthy aging, while avoidance of the 'Western-type foods' might actually improve the possibility of achieving older ages free of chronic diseases and remaining highly functional," said Akbaraly.

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