Old age may come with progressively worsening mobility and diminishing function, but a new study suggests consuming a healthy diet can help maintain one’s mobility even through aging.
Senior author Francine Grodstein said, “Little research has been done on how diet impacts physical function later in life. We study the connection between diet and many other aspects of health, but we don’t know much about diet and mobility. We wanted to look at diet patterns and try to learn how our overall diet impacts our physical function as we get older.”
The researchers looked at data from over 55,000 women who had their physical function assessed every four years between 1992 and 2008 as part of a nationwide study. The participants also completed questionnaires about their eating habits.
The researchers found that those who consumed healthy diets were less likely to develop mobility issues while aging, compared to those who ate less healthy diets. They also found that higher consumption of vegetables and fruits, moderate alcohol consumption, as well as low consumption of sugary beverages, trans fats, and salt were also associated with a reduced risk of physical impairment.
Specific foods associated with a reduced risk of physical impairment included oranges, orange juice, apples, pears, romaine or leaf lettuce, and walnuts.
First author Kaitlin Hagan concluded, “We think a lot about chronic diseases, cancer, heart disease, and tend not to think of physical function. Physical function is crucial as you age. It includes being able to get yourself dressed, walk around the block, and could impact your ability to live independently.”