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Not many of us get enough fibre in our diets, writes Bee but an added incentive to increase our intake comes from a study in Journals of Gerontology showing that it helps to slow ageing.
All the dietary factors they examined in a cohort of adults aged 50 and older — including a person’s total carbohydrate intake, total fibre intake, glycaemic index of food, — it was the fibre they ate that made the biggest difference to what the scientists called “successful ageing’’.
Those who had the highest intake were found to have an almost 80 per cent greater chance of living a long and healthy life.
In 2020 researchers from the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, warned that eating ultra-processed foods such as ready meals, ice cream, crisps, cakes and processed meats is linked to the accelerated shortening of telomeres, structures located at the ends of our chromosomes that are markers of our biological age, and cell ageing.
Of 886 participants over the age of 55, those eating two to two and a half servings of such foods a week were 29 per cent more likely to display signs of accelerated cell ageing, rising to 82 per cent of those consuming more than three servings a week.
They are rich sources of lutein, an antioxidant carotenoid that Dr Kara Fitzgerald, a researcher in nutritional biochemistry at the Institute for Functional Medicine in Washington, found to have a profound effect on slowing biological ageing.
Other researchers show that a good intake of lycopene, the antioxidant compound that gives tomatoes their red colour, helps to prevent skin ageing, meaning there’s more than one reason to add them to your salads.
Middle-aged adults who take this sweet spot of walking steps every day are 70 per cent less likely to die at a younger than expected age than those who manage a lower daily total.
In the study of 2,110 adults wearing trackers, researchers found that taking more than 10,000 steps a day did nothing to further delay ageing.
A single night of insufficient sleep can make an older adult’s cells age quicker, according to a study at UCLA presented to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Not only that, but poor sleepers feel older and have a worse outlook on ageing, which ultimately affects their health, according to researchers at the University of Exeter who interviewed 4,482 people aged 50 and over about sleep quality and perceived levels of age-related issues such as poor memory, low energy and decreased motivation.
Lift weights to preserve muscles and prevent falls, but keep up your cardio for anti-ageing effects.
When researchers from Leipzig University compared the effects of running and interval training with weight training on markers of ageing for a study in the European Heart Journal, they found it was the endurance activities that produced a greater increase in telomere length and activity.
Professor Ulrich Laufs, said, “telomeres are important for cellular ageing, regenerative capacity and thus, healthy ageing” and “resistance training did not exert these effects”.
Staying active throughout life keeps your body young, according to researchers at the University of Birmingham and King’s College London.
They found that amateur male and female cyclists aged 55 to 79 who had exercised for most of their lives not only had significantly less loss of muscle mass and strength for their age, but also had an immune system that had defied ageing compared with non-active control participants.
Dark berries are a rich source of anthocyanins, the antioxidants that give them their red and purple colour and which have been shown in studies to help to prevent age-related metabolic damage.
And a 20-year Harvard study showed that women who ate blueberries at least once a week or strawberries at least twice a week delayed cognitive ageing by up to two and a half years.
Researchers reporting in the journal Food Chemistry hailed white button mushrooms as potent anti-ageing foods because of their unusually high content of two antioxidants — ergothioneine and glutathione — that have been shown to preserve cellular health.
In her study Fitzgerald says all varieties, from shiitake and cordyceps to porcini and oyster mushrooms, “contain valuable nutrients when it comes to preventing biological ageing” and recommends eating them several times a week.
Research in 2017 by the University of California, San Diego, in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that women who lived mainly sedentary lives, sitting down for ten hours a day, displayed DNA evidence indicating that they were physically eight years older than women who did at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
A diet rich in leafy greens, along with regular exercise and sleep, has been shown to help reverse ageing by two years in just eight weeks, by triggering changes to DNA methylation, a process that affects cell turnover.
In Fitzgerald’s study, male participants ate 250g dark leafy greens, 250g cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli or cauliflower, 380g “colourful” vegetables and two beetroots a week. They were also given three servings of liver, up to ten eggs and a probiotic.
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