When we approach middle—and old—age, we increasingly become vulnerable to several physical and mental ailments, including diabetes, arthritis, an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, dementia, among others.
While they cannot be wholly avoided, we can certainly aim for “healthy ageing” by making certain tweaks to our diet and overall lifestyle. When it comes to our diet, especially, simple additions like walnuts, olive oil and almonds can help tremendously. Here’s how.
1. Walnuts for healthy ageing
As a part of a study conducted in the USA, women in their 50s and 60s were asked to provide details about their dietary habits, including the nuts they frequently consumed.
The study concluded that “eating walnuts may have a positive impact on reducing the risk for physical impairments in older adults as well as cognitive decline.”
The same research found a definite link between regular consumption of walnuts (about twice a week) to decreased risks of cardiovascular and type 2 diabetes.
2. Go for a Mediterranean diet
By that, we mean, have meals full of fresh green vegetables, legumes, nuts and fruits. Cut down on red meat, dairy products and saturated fats for visible results in just one year.
A study published in the British Medical Journal showed that following a Mediterranean diet showed positive results to the 612 people studied. These individuals were between the ages of 65 to 79 and showed an increase in bacteria associated with better brain function. At the same time, the loss of gut bacteria diversity was slowed down, indicating healthy ageing.
3. Olive oil to live a long life
Instability in the DNA structure deregulated sensing of nutrients, stem cell exhaustion, a loss of proteostasis and dysfunction of the mitochondria are signs related to an ageing body and are regarded as “hallmarks of ageing.”
A study published in the National Institutes of Health, USA has concluded that almost all of these are targeted by dietary virgin olive oil.
Oleic acid, present abundantly in olive oil, is known to reduce the risk of Atherosclerosis (the building of plaque in arteries). This acid is classified as a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid which increases the “good” cholesterol and decreases “bad” cholesterol.
Overall, the inclusion of virgin olive oil in diets was studied to support healthy ageing and reduced the risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, cardiovascular events and stroke.
4. Healthy ageing with almonds
Speaking to the New Food Magazine Dr Raja Sivamani, the lead researcher on a study about skin benefits of almonds he said, “Food as a means of promoting skin health – the ‘health from the inside out’ idea – is of growing interest to those looking for options for healthy ageing. It’s also a growing area of scientific research. Almonds are a rich source of the antioxidant vitamin E and deliver essential fatty acids and polyphenols. They’re a smart choice for overall good nutrition. And…, almonds may hold promise as a food to include as part of a healthy ageing diet, especially for postmenopausal women.”
Apart from the findings that a daily intake of almonds reduces face wrinkles, the fibre, protein, magnesium and vitamin E contents of almonds also keep your system healthy, helping one age healthily. They are also known to keep your memory sharp. Almonds are a necessary inclusion in diet, especially for postmenopausal women but also for other demographics.
5. Blueberries and other fruits for healthy ageing
A new study conducted in 2019 found out that the anthocyanin pigments in blueberries are excellent in aiding healthy ageing. This pigment is what gives the blueberries their gorgeous colour and a cupful of the berries every day can improve blood vessel function as well as decrease systolic blood pressure.
Older studies have confirmed that the high polyphenol levels in blueberries can lead to improved memory. Donald Ingram, a senior neuroscience researcher, writes in the Food Navigator, “Since the 1990s, research on the health benefits of blueberries has grown exponentially. Studies have documented that this fruit ranks highest in antioxidant activity as compared to many other popular fruits (in the USA). Moreover, other mechanisms for the health benefits of blueberries, such as their anti-inflammatory properties, have been identified.”
The effect of each of these foods depends on your medical history, lifestyle, exercise routines and dietary habits. The scale of their impact will change according to each individual. However, it is always beneficial to take conscious efforts in altering diet, so they help your system stay healthy and fit.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)