Are your eating habits improving or declining as you age? Either way, I have some good news and some bad news about eating and aging well. If you’re like me, you’d like the bad news first so here it is:
- A fast food diet can lead to long-term aggressive inflammatory responses. This can then lead to type 2 diabetes and vascular issues like stroke or heart attack which can result in vascular dementia.
- A high salt diet produced dementia in a study of mice.
So if you salt your food heavily, stop at the drive through or eat processed foods often, you may want to change your eating habits! In both these studies, both the fast food and the higher salt food produced an inflammatory response in the body. Chronic inflammation has been attributed to many health issues-vascular, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and auto-immune diseases. For these reasons alone, these foods and the added salt should be avoided. But add in the dementia component and I hope you’re as duly concerned as I am.
It’s easy to pick up convenient fast food or prepared foods which are famously high in added salt. But hopefully, these studies will give us all pause and cause us to reach for a healthier option. Which leads me to the good news:
In an analysis of published studies, it was found that a Mediterranean diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes(beans) was found to keep people healthier as they aged. It assists in maintaining a healthy weight, muscle strength, and energy level. Frail individuals on the other hand have a higher incidence of illness, fractures, hospitalizations, disability, and dementia. You’ll probably agree it’s preferable to age healthier rather than be frail in our older years.
Maybe you began this year with a resolution to change and improve your diet. If so, hopefully this research helped reinforce your desire to change. If you haven’t, maybe this will cause you to adjust your eating habits. Let’s ditch the bad news of fast food and high salt diets and embrace the good news benefits of a Mediterranean diet. Not only will our bodies thank us, but seems like our brains will too!
- Anette Christ, Patrick Günther, Mario A.R. Lauterbach, Peter Duewell, Debjani Biswas, Karin Pelka, Claus J. Scholz, Marije Oosting, Kristian Haendler, Kevin Baßler, Kathrin Klee, Jonas Schulte-Schrepping, Thomas Ulas, Simone J.C.F.M. Moorlag, Vinod Kumar, Min Hi Park, Leo A.B. Joosten, Laszlo A. Groh, Niels P. Riksen, Terje Espevik, Andreas Schlitzer, Yang Li, Michael L. Fitzgerald, Mihai G. Netea, Joachim L. Schultze, Eicke Latz. Western Diet Triggers NLRP3-Dependent Innate Immune Reprogramming. Cell, 2018; 172 (1-2): 162 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.12.013
- Giuseppe Faraco, David Brea, Lidia Garcia-Bonilla, Gang Wang, Gianfranco Racchumi, Haejoo Chang, Izaskun Buendia, Monica M. Santisteban, Steven G. Segarra, Kenzo Koizumi, Yukio Sugiyama, Michelle Murphy, Henning Voss, Joseph Anrather, Costantino Iadecola. Dietary salt promotes neurovascular and cognitive dysfunction through a gut-initiated TH17 response. Nature Neuroscience, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41593-017-0059-z
- Gotaro Kojima, Christina Avgerinou, Steve Iliffe, Kate Walters. Adherence to Mediterranean Diet Reduces Incident Frailty Risk: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15251