These healthy diets are linked to better aging in women

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A recent study suggests that adopting a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low in added sugar, sodium, and processed meats can promote healthy cellular aging in women.

The research, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, used telomere length as a measure of cellular aging and found that women with higher diet quality scores had longer telomeres.

While the findings for men were in the same direction, they were not statistically significant.

Telomeres: Guardians of Cellular Aging

Telomeres are like protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, and they play a crucial role in maintaining cellular stability and protecting DNA.

As we age, telomeres naturally shorten with each cell cycle. However, recent studies have revealed that various behavioral, environmental, and psychological factors can also influence telomere length.

Shorter telomeres have been associated with a higher risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

Four Evidence-Based Diets

The study, led by Cindy Leung, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, involved analyzing the diets of nearly 5,000 healthy adults.

Researchers assessed how well these individuals scored on four evidence-based diet quality indices, which included the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and two commonly used measures of diet quality from the US Department of Agriculture and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

For women, the study found a significant association between higher scores on each of these indices and longer telomere length.

It’s worth noting that all four diets emphasized the importance of consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based protein, while limiting the intake of sugar, sodium, and red and processed meat.

Cindy Leung explains, “All four diets emphasize eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based protein and limiting consumption of sugar, sodium, and red and processed meat.

Overall, the findings suggest that following these guidelines is associated with longer telomere length and reduces the risk of major chronic disease.”

What About Men?

While the findings for women were significant and consistent across different diet quality indices, the results for men were not statistically significant.

This gender difference is in line with previous studies that have observed variations in the relationship between nutrition and telomere length based on gender.

Leung points out, “In our study, as well as in previous studies, men tended to have lower diet quality scores than women.

Men also had higher intakes of sugary beverages and processed meats, both of which have been associated with shorter telomeres in prior studies.

It’s possible that not all foods affect telomere length equally, and you need higher amounts of protective foods to counteract the harmful effects of others. However, more research is needed to explore this further.”

In conclusion, this study underscores the importance of a healthy diet in maintaining cellular health, particularly in women.

The findings highlight that it’s not just individual foods or nutrients but the overall quality of the diet that matters.

A diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based protein, can create a favorable biochemical environment for telomeres, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases associated with aging.

Further research is needed to fully understand the dietary impact on cellular aging in both men and women.

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The research findings can be found in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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