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10.06.2016


Want to live longer? Eat lots of beans, nuts and fish, and avoid soft drinks

A diet containing relatively large amounts of beans, nuts, fish and seaweed is likely to extend your life expectancy. Consuming lots of soft drinks seems to have the opposite effect. Researchers at Peking Union Medical College drew this conclusion from the molecular-epidemiological study that they published in Nutrition Journal.

Study
The researchers examined 556 Chinese people living in a suburb of Beijing as part of a study on diabetes. A number of the participants had diabetes, a number were in the preliminary stages of the disease and about two hundred participants were healthy.

The researchers used questionnaires to find out about the participants' eating habits and also measured the length of their telomeres in the DNA of their blood cells. Telomeres are a bit like a biological clock. Each time cells divide they get shorter. The longer they are, the longer you still have to live. And a healthy lifestyle delays the reduction in telomere length.

Results
The amount of carbohydrates, fats and proteins that the participants ate had no effect on telomere length. In the figures below the researchers divided the participants into three equal-sized groups according to the length of their telomeres.


Want to live longer? Eat lots of beans, nuts and fish, and avoid soft drinks



The researchers did discover, by the way, that a high caloric intake is not healthy. The more calories the participants consumed, the more TNF-alpha was circulating in their body. TNF-alpha is an inflammatory factor, and studies have shown that it plays a role in nearly all processes that lead to a deterioration in health.

Grains, dairy, vegetables, fruit, potatoes and meat had no influence on telomere length. One might expect vegetables at least to have a positive influence on telomere length, but that might have been because the participants in this study ate few vegetables.

On the other hand, the consumption of soft drinks did have a pronounced negative effect on telomere length. The researchers made no distinction between soft drinks sweetened with sugars and those sweetened with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.


Want to live longer? Eat lots of beans, nuts and fish, and avoid soft drinks


Want to live longer? Eat lots of beans, nuts and fish, and avoid soft drinks



What did emerge from the study was that a diet containing large amounts of beans, nuts, fish and seaweed had a positive effect on telomere length.

In conclusion, diabetes had a strongly negative effect on telomere length. The less the body's sensitivity to insulin, the shorter the telomeres were.

Source:
Nutr J. 2016 Apr 12;15(1):39.

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