Fight Off Aging With the Right Foods

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Keeping in
peak condition in old age can be boosted by nutrition, which scientists
are proving is a powerful weapon in fighting off diseases. As new
research shows that olive oil could play a vital role in protecting
against dementia, we look at the key foods that have shown to be
an ally against ageing.

MEMORY:
OLIVE OIL

Using olive
oil as much as possible could preserve your memory and your heart.
Oleocanthal, a compound in olive oil, has been found to slow down
changes in the brain that lead to Alzheimer’s. Researchers believe
it will become a key ingredient in medicines designed to combat
the disease.

Alzheimer’s
disease is thought to occur when a protein called ADDL attacks brain
cells. Scientists at the University of Philadelphia discovered that
oleocanthal in olive oil changes ADDL in a way that makes it harmless.

Oleocanthal,
a key component of the Mediterranean diet, is already known to be
an anti-inflammatory and is thought to protect against heart disease
by raising levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol while lowering levels
of damaging LDL cholesterol.

TIP:
Oleocanthal gives olive oil its peppery taste and is highest
in virgin oils. Replace regular cooking oil with good-quality olive
oil. Use an olive oil-based spread rather than butter or margarine.

BONES: VITAMIN
D

Falls and fractures
could be a thing of the past if those aged 65 and over were to top
up on Vitamin D, according to new research at Harvard University.
The vitamin plays a key role in keeping bones and muscles strong,
but many people in this age bracket still suffer from low levels.

Found in eggs,
oily fish and animal liver, Vitamin D is also made beneath the skin
when it is exposed to sunshine. The research at Harvard looked at
the effect of Vitamin D supplements when given to 10,000 people
over a period of 30 years. It led to 20 per cent fewer falls and
fractures.

‘One of the
main roles of Vitamin D is to help fix calcium in bone,’ says Elisabeth
Weichselbaum, nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation.
‘One of our main sources is sunlight and most of us don’t get enough.’

TIP:
Include Vitamin D-rich foods such as oily fish and eggs in your
diet. In addition, Harvard researchers recommend that those over
65 take 800 to 1000 iu of Vitamin D daily as a supplement to boost
bone and muscle strength.

CARDIOVASCULAR
HEALTH: OILY FISH

Omega-3 fatty
acids in fish oil have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease
and heart attack and to prevent furring up of the arteries. A study
in the American Journal Of Respiratory Care, looking at more than
10,000 patients, found that a daily 2g dose of fish oil given to
the elderly prevented a decline in heart function.

In patients
with heart disease who had already suffered a heart attack, daily
fish-oil supplements reduced cardiovascular death by 30 per cent.
Japanese research published in The Lancet found that fish oil can
make statin medication more effective, reducing heart complications
by a further 20 per cent.

‘A wealth of
evidence shows fish oil can help heart health in the elderly,’ says
Weichselbaum. ‘It also plays a role in protecting against other
age-related conditions such as joint pain, immunity and cognitive
decline.’

TIP:
The British Nutrition Foundation advises older people to eat
oily fish such as herring, salmon, mackerel and tuna twice a week.

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the rest of the article

October
21, 2009

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