More and more studies are being done to answer the age-old question: “What is the best diet?” The answer often depends on your personal goals. But, if your goal is to live a longer and healthier life with less risk of chronic disease, keep reading.
When it comes to reducing your risks of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and several cancers, as well as supporting bone and brain health, there seems to be a dietary pattern that gets recommended over and over again. And for good reason. Yet another big review study was recently published that looked at data from 153 studies (involving 6,550,664 participants!) to answer this seemingly simple question.
Researchers from several universities across the United States reviewed existing studies to see if there was an association between dietary patterns and “all-cause mortality” (death from all causes).
They looked for studies that compared what adults ate and for how long they lived.
Here’s what they found. Adults who ate more vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, unsaturated vegetable oils (like olive oil), fish and lean meat or poultry (when meat was included) were associated with a decreased risk of death from all causes. These dietary patterns were low in red and processed meat, high-fat dairy, and refined carbohydrates or sweets. In other words, a long life is linked to eating an abundance of plants.
Is there a name for this type of healthy diet? A number of different “diets” recommend this eating style. They include the Mediterranean, prudent, Healthy Eating Index, DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), or plant-based diets. These are all considered to be high-quality diets with nutrient-dense foods and are associated with better health, regardless of diet type or dietary pattern name.
You may be asking yourself when should someone start adopting an eating pattern like this?
How about now? There are health risks that come with menopause and aging - heart disease, stroke, cancer and osteoporosis (porous bones). So, midlife is a really good time to begin some prevention strategies, if you are not already.
Let’s sum up. Eat more:
fish and lean meat or poultry (not necessary, but if you want to eat meat)
Eat less (or avoid):
red and processed meat
refined carbohydrates (added sugars, white flour…) and sweets
Need some inspiration to get started? In my shop, you’ll find a variety of evidence-based, ready-made meal plans. Each plan was created with women's midlife health in mind.
English, L. K., Ard, J. D., Bailey, R. L., Bates, M., Bazzano, L. A., Boushey, C. J., Brown, C., Butera, G., Callahan, E. H., de Jesus, J., Mattes, R. D., Mayer-Davis, E. J., Novotny, R., Obbagy, J. E., Rahavi, E. B., Sabate, J., Snetselaar, L. G., Stoody, E. E., Van Horn, L. V., Venkatramanan, S., … Heymsfield, S. B. (2021). Evaluation of Dietary Patterns and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review. JAMA network open, 4(8), e2122277. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.22277
Healthlink BC. (2020, July 17). Menopause and Your Risk for Other Health Concerns. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/illnesses-conditions/sexual-reproductive-health/menopause-and-your-risk-other-health-concerns