Healthy Diet Slows Biological Ageing and Reduces Dementia Risk

Healthy Diet Slows Biological Ageing and Reduces Dementia Risk

Scientists at Columbia University come up with answers on why people who eat healthier tend to live longer and are less likely to develop dementia.

Wanting to understand more about the biological mechanism of this protection, scientists at Columbia University tested the hypothesis that healthy diet protects against dementia because it slows the pace of biological ageing.

  • Chronological age is the number of years you have lived
  • Biological age is how old your cells are1

The researchers found that higher adherence to a healthy diet:

  • Slowed the pace of aging and reduced risks for dementia and mortality
  • Slower pace of aging accounted for 57% of the diet mortality association and 27% of the diet-dementia association

See the Columbia University Press Release for a summary or access the original research abstract.

Healthy Diet

The diet used in this research was the Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet (MIND).

The diet encourages you to eat:

  • Whole grains – 3 or more servings a day
  • Vegetables (apart from green leafy) – at least one serving a day
  • Green leafy vegetables – at least 6 servings a week
  • Nuts – at least 5 servings a week
  • Beans – include as a main component of at least 4 meals a week
  • Berries - at least 2 servings a week
  • Poultry – include as a main component of at least 2 meals a week
  • Fish – include as a component of at least 1 meal a week
  • Olive oil – the only fat you should use when additional fat is needed

The diet discourages you from eating:

  • Butter and margarine – less than 1 tablespoon a day
  • Sweets and pastries – no more than 4 a week
  • Red meat and meat products – no more than 3 a week
  • Cheese and fried foods – less than 1 a week

Source: Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health

Some versions of the MIND diet include up to one glass of red or white wine a day (including the one this study was based upon). But others leave out the wine as it may not be suitable for some individuals following the diet

You could create your own diet plan based on the MIND guidelines and use it in the WLR food diary. Because of the recommended (and discouraged) components it is very likely that it will work for weight loss. Just make sure you stay within your calorie allowance!

Whilst not a strict as the MIND version, WLR has a healthy calorie-counted version of the Mediterranean diet so you can lose weight while working on shaving a few years off your biological age. Take a look to get some ideas:

Mediterranean Diet 7 Day Plan

1If you’d like to find out more about biological age, see The Science of Longevity at Northwestern Medicine.

How Healthy Is Your Diet?

If you'd like to have a closer look and see how healthy your diet is, have a look at the tools and databases in Weight Loss Resources. You can check if your diet is balanced, how many calories you eat (and how many you need!), track how many servings of fruit and veg you eat in a day, and look up the calorie, protein, carbohydrate, fat and fibre content of UK foods. Try it free.

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