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Right Diet Can Impact Cellular Aging in Women

Right Diet Can Impact Cellular Aging in Women

New research suggests that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and low in added sugar, sodium and processed meats, can help promote healthy cellular aging in women and ward off chronic illness.

University of Michigan Public Health researchers believe the findings show that an individual should seek to consume a healthy diet in general, rather than focusing on specific diets or products.

Lead author Cindy Leung, Sc.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of nutritional sciences, said individuals should improve the overall quality of their diet, rather than targeting individual foods or nutrients.

“The key takeaway is that following a healthy diet can help us maintain healthy cells and avoid certain chronic diseases,” said Leung.

In the study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers used telomere length to measure cellular aging.

Telomeres are DNA-protein structures located on the ends of chromosomes that promote stability and protect DNA. Age is the strongest predictor of telomere length;telomeres shorten in length during each cell cycle.

However, recent studies have shown that telomeres can also be shortened due to behavioral, environmental and psychological factors. Shorter telomeres have been associated with an increased risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

Leung and colleagues examined the diets of a nationally representative sample of nearly 5,000 healthy adults and how well they scored on four evidence-based diet quality indices.

Investigators used the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet and two commonly used measures of diet quality developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health to determine diet quality.

For women, higher scores on each of the indices were significantly associated with longer telomere length.

“We were surprised that the findings were consistent regardless of the diet quality index we used,” Leung said.

“All four diets emphasize eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant-based protein and limiting consumption of sugar, sodium and red and processed meat.

“Overall, the findings suggest that following these guidelines is associated with longer telomere length and reduces the risk of major chronic disease.”

Co-author Elissa Epel, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, said “the commonality to all of the healthy diet patterns is that they are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory diets. They create a biochemical environment favorable to telomeres.”

In men, the findings were in the same direction, but not statistically significant.

“We have seen some gender differences in previous nutrition and telomere studies,” Leung said.

“In our study, as well as in previous studies, men tended to have lower diet quality scores than women. Men also had higher intakes of sugary beverages and processed meats, both of which have been associated with shorter telomeres in prior studies.

“It’s possible that not all foods affect telomere length equally and you need higher amounts of protective foods in order to negate the harmful effects of others. However, more research is needed to explore this further.”

Source: University of Michigan/EurekAlert

Right Diet Can Impact Cellular Aging in Women

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Right Diet Can Impact Cellular Aging in Women. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/08/22/right-diet-can-impact-cellular-aging-in-women/138051.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 22 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Aug 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.