Key to healthy ageing hidden in balanced diet

Washington:  As scientists across the world are searching for some clues on how to achieve healthy ageing, a trio of ageing experts has called for moving forward with strategies that have been shown to delay ageing in animals.

In addition to promoting a healthy diet and regular exercise, these strategies include slowing the metabolic and molecular causes of human ageing, such as the incremental accumulation of cellular damage that occurs over time.

By treating the metabolic and molecular causes of human ageing, it may be possible to help people stay healthy in their 70s and 80s, researchers said in a commentary published in the journal Nature.

"You do not have to be a mathematician or an economist to understand that our current healthcare approach is not sustainable," said first author Luigi Fontana, a professor of medicine and nutrition at Washington University and Brescia University.

The diseases of old age - such as heart failure, diabetes, arthritis, cancer and Alzheimer's disease - tend to come as a package.

More than 70 percent of people over 65 years of age have two or more chronic diseases.

"We propose using lifestyle interventions - such as a personalised healthy diet and exercise programme - to down-regulate ageing pathways so the patient avoids heart failure in the first place," Fontana emphasised.

Fontana has found that people who eat significantly fewer calories, while still getting optimal nutrition, have "younger", more flexible hearts.

They also have significantly lower blood pressure, much less inflammation in their bodies and their skeletal muscles function in ways similar to muscles in people who are significantly younger.

"Healthy diets and calorie restriction are known to help animals live up to 50 percent longer," he maintained.

More efforts should be directed to promoting interventions that have the potential to prevent multiple chronic diseases and extend healthy lifespans, researchers emphasised.

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