Want to Age Well? Don't Eat Like an American
Study finds Western diet doesn't promote ideal aging
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2013 3:20 PM CDT
A new study shows how the Western diet is bad for the aging process.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Doctors have long told us that the Western diet—fried foods, processed foods, red meat, white bread, dairy, and plenty of sugar—is unhealthy, and now they have numbers to back it up. Researchers studied 5,350 British adults with a mean age of 51 who were followed for an average of 16 years. The results? Only 4% enjoyed "ideal aging," defined as being free from chronic diseases and having strong physical, mental, and cognitive function, reports MedPage Today. Participants were divided into three groups based on how they ate, and the researchers found:

  • The group who ate the most Western-style diet were 42% to 50% less likely to experience ideal aging compared to the group that ate more vegetables, fruits, and fish
  • The Western diet was linked to a 53% increased chance of cardiovascular death and a 36% increased chance of non-cardiovascular death
  • The Western diet was also linked to a worsened musculoskeletal status (determined by walking speed) and worse cognitive function
Their conclusion: "avoidance of the 'Western-type foods' actually might improve the possibility of achieving older ages free of chronic disease and remaining highly functional."

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Showing 3 of 7 comments
Imhotep
Apr 24, 2013 7:24 AM CDT
There is no race or country on this planet that has demonstrated from their diet that they can outlive ( by any extraordinary amount ) other people's and their diets. And as far as that goes it's the Mediteranian diet which produces the oldest people in fairly good health. There are way too many factors that contribute to long life and a good looking appearance as you age. Eat right , excersise, moderate alcohol consumption , and have a positive attitude about oneself and life in general. Generally speaking just take care of yourself. The rest as they say is in Gods hands.
No-Left-Turn
Apr 21, 2013 3:49 PM CDT
Twenty-five years ago I felt like crap. I started reading articles by various doctors. What really caught my eye was a book by John A. McDougall, M.D. He practiced for a while in Hawaii and made the observation that new Asian immigrants were in vastly better health than second-generation Asians. The difference was diet. I immediately became a vegetarian, plus started working out daily. Now I have been retired 11 years and am in virtually perfect health. I have yet to take a prescription pill. So many friends are in horrible shape and even dying at my age, and in most cases their bad health is self-inflicted. Eat fast food crap if you want, and spend your extra time sitting on a couch, but you will likely pay a very high price.
Ericg537
Apr 21, 2013 12:44 AM CDT
Don't eat like an American? But the guys in this study were British!