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Fruit & Veggie Shortfall Shortens Lifespan

Posted Jul 27 2013 10:08pm
Posted on July 24, 2013, 6 a.m. in Diet
Fruit & Veggie Shortfall Shortens Lifespan

In that few large-scale studies have assessed the effects of eating fruit and vegetables on the risks of dying early, scientists from the Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) analyzed data collected on 71,706 participants (38,221 men and 33,485 women), ages 45-83 years.  The team surveyed the subhects about their diets, reporting the consumption patterns of fruits  -- including oranges, apples, bananas and berries -- and vegetables, such as carrots, beets, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes and pea soup.  Of those who had reported eating no fruit or vegetables at the start of the study, the researchers observed these subjects were 53% more likely to die during the 13-year follow-up period, as compared to those who consumed five daily servings. Further, the investigators found that participants who ate at least one serving of fruit daily lived 19 months longer than those who never ate fruit, on average. And those who ate at least three servings of vegetables per day lived 32 months longer than people who reported not eating vegetables.  The study authors conclude that: “[Fruit and vegetable] consumption [less than] 5 servings [daily] is associated with progressively shorter survival and higher mortality rates.”

Bellavia A, Larsson SC, Bottai M, Wolk A, Orsini N.  “Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause mortality: a dose-response analysis.”  Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jun 26.

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Tip #192 - Stay Connected
Researchers from the University of Chicago (Illinois, USA) report that social isolation may be detrimental to both mental and physical health. The team analyzed data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a nationwide US study involving 3,000 men and women, ages 57 to 85 years. They arrived at three key findings regarding the relationships between health and different types of isolation:

• The researchers found that the most socially connected older adults are three times as likely to report very good or excellent health compared to those who are least connected, regardless of whether they feel isolated.

• The team found that older adults who feel least isolated are five times as likely to report very good or excellent health as those who feel most isolated, regardless of their actual level of social connectedness.

• They determined that social disconnectedness is not related to mental health unless it brings feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Separately, Rush University Medical Center (Illinois, USA) researchers studied 906 older men and women, testing their motor functions (including grip, pinch strength, balance, and walking) and surveying their social activity, for a period of 5 years. Those study participants with less social activity were found to have a more rapid rate of motor function decline. Specifically, the team found that every one-point decrease in social activity corresponded to an increase in functional aging of 5 years, translating to a 40% higher risk of death and 65% higher risk of disability.

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