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How does nutrition affect health and longevity?

September 22, 2022  18:43

How does what we eat affect our aging? Scientists tried to answer this question in a study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. The study was published in the journal BMC Biology.

Using multivariate modeling techniques to test the effects of nutrient intake on physiological dysregulation in older adults, the researchers identified key patterns of specific nutrient intake associated with minimal biological aging. The new approach provides a roadmap for future research to explore the full complexity of the nutrition-aging landscape, the researchers noted. 

The researchers analyzed data from 1,560 elderly men and women aged 67-84 to assess on a broad scale how nutrient intake is related to the aging process.

Four common patterns were identified:

- Optimal nutrient intake depended on the aging metric used. Increased protein intake improved/worsened some aging metrics, whereas increased carbohydrate levels improved/worsened others;

- There have been cases where intermediate nutrient levels have been good for many metrics (i.e., an argument against the simple "more/lower is better" perspective);

- There is broad tolerance for nutrient intake patterns that do not deviate too much from the norm.

- Optimal levels of one nutrient often depend on levels of another (e.g., vitamin E and vitamin C). 

The research team has also developed an interactive tool that allows users to explore how different combinations of micronutrients affect different aspects of aging.

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