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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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

‘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.’

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.


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

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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21, 2009

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