In this week’s article we provide a roundup of some of the most recent health and nutrition related articles, which all focus on aspects of healthy ageing. We analyse four items comprising:
- Dietary flavonoids intake may delay the biological ageing process
- Vitamin D may reduce inflammation in the ageing population
- Just 20 minutes of brisk walking can bring mental health benefits
- Omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to healthy lung function
- Probiotics have the potential to reduce hypertension
Flavonoid rich diet may delay the ageing process
The average life expectancy has risen considerably in the last few centuries, due to advancements in medical technology, but as a result, the global prevalence of age-related disease is also on the rise. Ageing is commonly indicated by “biological age”, which differs from our chronological age and is defined by degenerative changes in the body’s tissue structure and physiological function. Biological ageing can be accelerated by unhealthy lifestyle factors such as poor diet, smoking and alcohol consumption – whereas maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and consuming fruit and vegetables can decrease our biological age.
In this study, the authors sought to investigate the correlation of dietary flavonoids and the biological ageing process. Flavonoids, widely found in fruit, vegetables and plant foods possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can benefit numerous areas of health. In this study of over 3000 participants, a higher flavonoid intake was associated with a lower biological age, of the whole body, as well as specifically the cardiovascular and hepatic systems. A diet rich in flavonoids may therefore be beneficial for reducing the long-term risk of cardiovascular or liver disease.
Supplementing with vitamin D could present an effective way to support against “inflammaging”
Inflammation is a necessary part of the body’s natural defences when it occurs acutely in response to tissue damage, infection or allergens. However, chronic inflammation lasting for months, or even years is often at the heart of many common conditions such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis and dementia – conditions that are also associated with ageing. “Inflammaging” is the term used to describe this chronic, low-grade inflammation that develops with advancing age.
Several studies have suggested a link between vitamin D deficiency and inflammation, but few have looked specifically at the ageing population. In this recent large-scale community study looking at people over the age of 50 in Ireland, those with low vitamin D levels were shown to have higher levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP). The authors concluded that Vitamin D supplementation could represent a low-risk and low-cost yet effective way to modulate inflammation in an ageing population.
Read the full article here: Vitamin D status & associations with inflammation in older adults – PubMed (nih.gov)
10 year study shows just 20 minutes of daily exercise can significantly reduce risk of depression
Depression and mood disorders are common, and often debilitating among older adults and pose as substantial risk factors for major chronic conditions such as cognitive and functional decline, and chronic pain. Several studies in the last few years have provided increasing evidence of the beneficial role of dietary and lifestyle interventions in reducing the risk of depression – with regular physical exercise presenting an effective therapeutic option for reducing depression as well as subclinical depressive symptoms.
Despite the benefits of exercise being clear, there is little consensus as to the level of physical activity requited to achieve these benefits. In this 10-year study, also examining the health of an ageing population, as little as a 20-minute brisk walk, 5 times a week was found to significantly reduce the risk of depression. Although an even greater level of exercise did achieve greater mental health benefits, it is encouraging to know that in older people who are unable to perform vigorous exercise, they are still able to make lifestyle changes to improve their health and wellbeing.
Omega-3 associated with reduced rate of lung-function decline
Lung function increases through early adulthood, plateaus and then declines as we age, with accelerated decline increasing the risk of conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). As inflammation is known to contribute to both lung function decline and COPD, this study sought to investigate the potential benefits to lung health of the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids.
In this two-part investigation, researchers fist conducted a longitudinal study of healthy individuals, with an average age of 56 years, for a period of up to 20 years. The results demonstrated that higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a reduced rate of lung function decline. The authors observed the strongest association with the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which is found in oily fish and dietary supplements, with algae oil typically providing a rich source of DHA. The second part of the study was analysis of the genetic data of over 500,000 participants from the UK Biobank. They studied certain genetic markers as an indirect measure of omega-3 levels, and again found positive correlation between higher levels and better lung function. While this study did only look at healthy individuals, they hope that the results could prompt further studies and translate into dietary recommendations for people at higher risk for chronic lung disease.
Read the full article here: INVESTIGATING ASSOCIATIONS OF OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS, LUNG FUNCTION DECLINE, AND AIRWAY OBSTRUCTION – PMC (nih.gov)
Can probiotics reduce hypertension?
Hypertension is an increasingly pressing global public health concern, partly due to poor eating habits, obesity and high stress levels, and it becomes more common as we age (although more younger people are being diagnosed with the condition). Hypertension, characterised by persistently high blood pressure can lead to a number of other conditions such as stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Management of hypertension normally involves long-term medication; however, these do bring with them the risk of side effects, and as such, research is looking towards functional foods for the prevention of hypertension, and in particular, the role that probiotics have in promoting and maintaining human health.
In this study, the authors examine the ways in which probiotics can help to reduce symptoms of hypertension through four mechanisms: regulating vascular oxidative stress, producing short-chain-fatty acids, restoring endothelial function and reducing vascular inflammation. To conclude, they present the regular consumption of probiotics from foods such as yoghurts, fermented milk and cheese, and in probiotic supplements as a long-term strategy, as part of a healthy lifestyle, to mitigate hypertension without the side effects of medication
Read the full article here: Probiotics: functional food ingredients with the potential to reduce hypertension – PMC (nih.gov)
If you have questions regarding the topics that have been raised, or any other health matters, please do contact our team of Nutritional Therapists.