Healthy Aging

Mediterranean Diet Linked to Lower Breast-Cancer Risk

Hardly a day goes by without headlines touting the health benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet, which has been linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease and possible brain protection. Now, a recent study suggests this style of eating may also help protect women against breast cancer.

Fish-Oil Supplements Fail to Prevent Mental Decline

As a regular reader of this newsletter, you know to pay attention when a five-year clinical trial with more than 3,000 participants reports no benefits from omega-3 supplements against cognitive decline. Such a study - one of the largest and longest of its kind - would seem to slam the door on hopes for brain benefits of fish-oil pills. But before you go searching for the receipt on the last batch of omega-3 supplements you bought, Tufts experts have a couple of caveats.

Polyunsaturated Fat Levels Linked to Longevity

A new long-term study from Sweden bolsters the evidence that the type of fats you consume is more important for your health than the total amount of fats in your diet. Rather than relying on sometimes-inaccurate self-reported food intake, the study actually measured blood serum levels of the most important types of polyunsaturated fats. Health outcomes were then tracked for an average of 14.5 years.

Rethinking Protein Needs for Older Adults

Most of the soaring popularity of protein in US supermarkets can be dismissed as marketing hype. Although a new report from Packaged Facts says protein is currently the hottest functional food ingredient trend in the US, the truth is that most Americans get plenty of protein without any special dietary boosts.

Higher Vitamin D Fails to Boost Bone Health

Vitamin D, which some reports have credited with near-magical powers against everything from cardiovascular disease to dementia, increasingly seems to be just another nutrient-important to get enough, but offering little advantage from extra. Now a new study suggests that even where vitamin Ds benefits are clearly established-as a partner to calcium in building strong bones-its effects are limited: More vitamin D, beyond recommended intakes, is not necessarily better for your bones.

Do Spicy Foods Really Help You Live Longer?

The nations chile heads rejoiced recently over red-hot headlines linking consumption of spicy foods with lower mortality risk. In a Chinese study of 487,375 people, ages 30 to 79, those who reported consuming spicy foods almost daily were 14% less likely to die during 7.2 years of followup than those rarely eating chile-fueled foods. Major US media outlets gobbled up the study, published in BMJ, with headlines like USA Todays: Eating Spicy Food Might Help You Cheat Death a Little Longer.

Smart Choices Key to Keeping Pounds Off as You Age

Popular coverage of diet and weight-loss strategies often summarizes the bottom line with a twist on President Bill Clintons campaign mantra, Its the economy, stupid. When it comes to managing your weight, as this line of thinking goes, Its the calories, stupid.But a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition challenges this conventional wisdom. It builds on earlier work that suggests all calories are not the same, says Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of Tufts Friedman School and senior author of the study. All foods have complex mechanisms that help or hinder weight long-term. The simple math of calories in versus calories burned is true if youre testing food in a test tube. But human beings are not just inert buckets to put calories in.

Nicotinamide Linked to Fewer Recurrent Skin Cancers

If the headlines about a drug related to B vitamins helping to prevent skin cancer tempted you to toss your sunscreen and broad-brimmed hat, think again. The findings were exciting because the hope of preventing cancer with vitamins has largely proven elusive, and the researchers declared their results ready to put into clinical practice.But, in a cautionary note that didnt necessarily make the nightly news, those Australian scientists also said only people who get frequent non-melanoma skin cancers should adopt the preventive measures-and only after consulting with their doctors. Moreover, the vitamin B3 compound that was tested isnt the familiar niacin found in supplement aisles. Niacin can cause side effects including flushing and headaches. Rather, the study used nicotinamide, a compound related to niacin thats more commonly sold in the US as niacinamide.

Staying Highly Fit Slows Signs of Aging

Older people who are highly fit, such as recreational cyclists, are physiologically more similar to young people than to more sedentary seniors. Thats the conclusion of a new British study that sought to explore the effect of physical activity on key indicators of aging. As one scientist put it, Being physically active makes your body function on the inside more like a young persons.

Take Charge!

Engaging in enough daily physical activity to burn about 100 calories can be the difference between a high-risk sedentary lifestyle and being moderately inactive. Of course, youll want to aim for a greater level of activity over time, but just getting going can pay big dividends. Here are examples of activities that burn about 100 calories, depending on your weight, in about 20 minutes: