How would you like to improve your chances of survival to the age of 80 by nearly 800 percent?
This information appeared in what looks like a landmark study from the University of Michigan, the National Institute on Aging and Columbia University.
"It was reported in the May 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society. I first became aware of the study from the newsletter Focus on Healthy Aging by Mount Sinai School of Medicine. This school, although it is not as well known as the Harvard School of Medicine or the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, is a respected school of medicine in the eastern U.S."
Researchers looked at 713 women from the ages of 70-79, followed them for five years and measured the amount of fruits and vegetables they ate and determined their levels of physical activity.
"To determine the women’s fruit and vegetable intake, they did not depend on memory. Instead they measured the blood levels of carotenoids, plant pigments the body converts to antioxidants. The more fruits and vegetables they ate the higher the levels of carotenoids."
Their physical activity levels were measured by a questionnaire in which the women reported the time spent doing various levels of physical activity.
It was found that the women who had the highest levels of fruit and vegetable intake and who were the most active physically were nearly eight times more likely to survive to age 80 than were those with the lowest levels.
"The authors of this study say that to their knowledge, this is the first study to show that the combination of a healthy diet and high levels of physical activity predict greater survival, and the combination of both positive factors makes a lower mortality risk than either factor by itself. In other words you needed both of them to achieve that higher survival level."
"The article also pointed out that many older adults do not reach the recommended daily vegetable and fruit intake. They cited studies done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that fewer than a third of the adults 65 and older eat the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables."
"And when it comes to physical activity, the same CDC study mentioned earlier showed that 35.1 percent of adults 65-74 and 46 percent of those 75 and older do not do any leisure-time physical activity. Unfortunately for some it seems the only physical activity they get is to push the remote control button on the TV."
"It should be pointed out that thus far no studies like this one have been done on other age groups of women or on men."
However, it seems to me it does not stretch the imagination to think the same benefits would include all age groups and men, at least to some degree.
Furthermore this study seems to validate the claims of those who think that the vegetarian diet is the way to go.
Dr. Don Casebolt of College Place is a retired physician who is passionate about preventive medicine. He spent four years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy, the last 21/2 years as a flight surgeon. He also worked on the Navajo Reservation for 22 years.