Women, take note! Eating a healthy diet could help promote healthy cellular aging, finds a study.
According to the University of Michigan research, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in added sugar, sodium and processed meats is linked to healthy cellular aging in women.
“The key takeaway is that following a healthy diet can help us maintain healthy cells and avoid certain chronic diseases,” said lead author Cindy Leung. “Emphasis should be placed on improving the overall quality of your diet rather than emphasizing individual foods or nutrients.”
In the study, researchers used telomere length to measure cellular aging.
Telomeres are DNA-protein structures located on the ends of chromosomes that promote stability and protect DNA. Age is the strongest predictor of telomere length–telomeres shorten in length during each cell cycle.
However, recent studies have shown that telomeres can also be shortened due to behavioral, environmental and psychological factors. Shorter telomeres have been associated with an increased risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
“Overall, the findings suggest that following these guidelines is associated with longer telomere length and reduces the risk of major chronic disease,” Leung said.
In men, the findings were in the same direction, but not statistically significant.
“We have seen some gender differences in previous nutrition and telomere studies,” Leung said. “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.”
The study appears in the American Journal of Epidemiology.