PEOPLE who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age, according to new research.
Scientists from the University of Southampton found that those who ate more fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals and fewer processed foods performed better in three tests of physical function in older age.
The study looked at 969 British men and women whose lifestyles have been monitored since they were born in March 1946 and tested their standing balance, ability to rise from a chair, and timed speeds of getting up and walking.
Sian Robinson, Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology, said: “Improving the quality of your diet can have a beneficial effect on health whatever your age.
“However, this study suggests that making good dietary choices throughout adulthood – by cutting down on highly processed foods and incorporating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains into your diet – can have a significant beneficial effect on strength and physical performance later in life, helping to ensure a much healthier old age.”
Professor Cyrus Cooper, director of the university’s Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, said: “The link between dietary patterns and frailty in older people will open the door to effective interventions against the age-related decline in musculoskeletal function which is such a growing cause of disability in ageing populations worldwide.”
The study was funded by the Medical Research Council and published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A.
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