Eating Well in Middle Age May Help Keep You Strong in Old Age

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New research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition in Chicago found that a nutritious diet begun in a person’s forties may foster healthy aging and independent living decades later.

“People who adhered to healthy dietary patterns in midlife — especially those rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats — were significantly more likely to achieve healthy aging,” says an author of the study, Anne-Julie Tessier, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “We were surprised at the strength of this association even after considering several other factors, like physical activity, that are also known to impact health.”

Dr. Tessier and her colleagues analyzed data going back to 1986 on more than 106,000 women. Subjects at the start of the review were at least 39 years old and free of any chronic diseases.

The researchers observed that the women who followed a healthy diet from their forties onward were 43 to 84 percent more likely to be well-functioning physically and mentally at age 70 than those who did not.

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