How You Eat and Positive Outlook is Linked to Lower Risk of Premature Death
A better diet and positive outlook may reduce the risk of premature death and provide a better quality of life as you age. While you can't avoid aging and the consequences that it will bring, you could delay some of the problems of aging.
According to a recent study by Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers, a variety of good eating habits are connected to a decreased risk of early death.
They discovered that in comparison to participants with lower scores, those with high scores on adherence to at least one of four healthy eating patterns had a lower risk of passing away during the course of the study from any cause and a lower chance of passing away from cardiovascular disease, cancer, or respiratory disease. The findings coincide with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which advocate a variety of healthy eating habits.
According to Frank Hu, Fredrick J. Stare, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard, the guidelines are intended to provide science-based dietary advice.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are intended to provide science-based dietary advice that promotes good health and reduces major chronic diseases. Thus, it is critical to examine the associations between DGAs-recommended dietary patterns and long-term health outcomes, especially mortality.
All the participants from the start of the study did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer and completed dietary questionnaires every four years. Their information was scored based on the four dietary pattern indexes (Healthy Eating Index 2015, Alternate Mediterranean Diet, Healthful Plant-based Diet Index, and Alternate Healthy Eating Index). These share key components, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes, although other components differ across different eating patterns.
A lower risk of premature death from any cause and from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory disease was linked to individuals who scored higher on at least one of the indices. A lower risk of death from neurogenerative disease was associated with higher AMED and AHEI scores. The results were consistent for non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, and non-Hispanic Hispanic people.
Being Positive Helpful for Aging
Diet is one component of aging and longevity. According to another Harvard study, those with more optimistic views about aging are likely to live longer and in better health than those with more pessimistic views.
According to the study, those who were most content with their aging had a 43% lower probability of passing away from any cause over a four-year period than those who were least satisfied. The study also discovered that those who were more content with their aging process had better cognitive functioning, lower risks for diseases like diabetes, stroke, cancer, and heart disease, higher rates of physical activity, lower rates of sleep problems, lower rates of loneliness and depression, and higher levels of optimism and a sense of purpose.
Is there a connection between diet and a positive outlook on life? While the studies were not directly connected, positive views may lead to a better quality of life, activity level, and a reduced risk of chronic illness which can lead to long-term health care and death.
There seems to be a connection between mindset and health, according to Eric Kim, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and an affiliate researcher at the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
There's a connection between mindsets and health behaviors, one leads to the other.
Kim offers suggestions on how to develop a more positive attitude about aging:
Maintain a sense of purpose by finding projects that align with your values
Reject negative stereotypes about aging, such as the idea that poor physical health is inevitable for older adults
Stay socially active, for instance, by joining a club or getting involved with a community organization
Try new activities or teach skills or crafts to others
Aging – A Growing Health Problem Around the Globe
Longevity, health, and long-term care have become a significant research concern for scientists because of the aging population in the United States and globally. With more older adults, chronic illness, dementia, mobility problems, and frailty create a need for long-term health care. Plus, a longer life itself is associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive decline.
In the U.S., most long-term health care is not paid for by traditional insurance and Medicare. Medicaid is the primary payer of long-term care services in the U.S., but the program requires the care recipient to have little or no income or assets to qualify.
With the rising cost of long-term health care, the consequences on families paying for care from income and savings are considerable. Some families use untrained and unpaid family caregivers. Because of the demands of their lives and the length of time that care is needed, that isn't a sustainable option.
Those with Long-Term Care Insurance have the resources to pay for quality care options, but insurance must be purchased before any health decline. People who do purchase LTC Insurance tend to be in their 50s. Still, many people only pay attention to the problem once their planning options are limited, if available at all.
While there is current Harvard University research making advances in attempting to reverse aging, this research, if successful, will probably not help us in our lifetimes. Reversing aging in mice is a far cry from doing so with human beings.
Aging is still a reality. Taking action to better prepare for aging will benefit you and your family -- and your back pocket.
About the Author
Linda is a former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in so she “can keep her mind active and engaged”.
Contributor since December 11th, 2017
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