Eating a typical “Western-style” diet apparently makes it unlikely you will live long and prosper, according to a new study.
Researchers developed their findings from studying the mortality rates and disease incidence of about 5,000 middle-aged British government employees from 1985 to 2009 who also filled out food questionnaires.
According to the research, those individuals who ate a Western-type diet had a greater likelihood of dying prematurely. That kind of diet includes lots of fried food, processed and red meat, deserts and sweets, and high-fat dairy products.
In the alternative, a more healthy, nutritionally sound diet suggested an old age characterized by good mental and physical health.
Lead investigator Tasnime Akbaraly, PhD, summarized the findings as follows: “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.”
AHEI refers to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index, which consists of a high intake of veggies, fruit, and fish. In general, those study subjects who abide by the AHEI diet were less at risk for heart disease and other chronic illnesses as they got older. “The researchers said participants who hadn’t really stuck to the AHEI increased their risk of death, either from heart disease or another cause.”
The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, claimed that there is an inverse relationship between Western eating and healthy lifestyles: “While our results indicate that low adherence to healthy recommendations of the AHEI guidelines is associated with increased premature death, the ‘Western-type’ diet significantly reduced the likelihood of achieving ideal health at older ages, which incorporates cardiovascular, metabolic, musculoskeletal, respiratory, mental, and cognitive components.”
The study noted that the components of ideal aging assessed at age 60 included being alive in the first place (obviously), no chronic diseases or mental health issues, and good cognitive functioning among other factors.
The study authors conceded, however, the government office workers may not be representative of the overall UK population and that the food questionnaires may be less precise than maintaining a food diary.
Does a study of this kind — and the prospect of dying young — make you consider adjusting your eating habits, if necessary, toward more healthy diet options?
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