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Early Deaths and Increased Risks for Cognitive Decline Linked to Western Diets

Update Date: Apr 17, 2013 12:09 PM EDT

Based from previous studies, researchers and health experts have repeatedly recommended people to lower their consumption of red and processed meats, citing several health complications that arise from the overconsumption of these products. Despite already knowing that red meats are unhealthy, another study has looked into the effects of red meat in combination with what the researchers titled, a western style diet. A western style diet, which is prevalent in countries such as Britain and the United States, includes highly fried products, sweets, processed foods and grains, red meat, and dairy products with high fat content. Researchers found that a western style diet can be extremely detrimental to both physical and mental health, recommending those who want to live longer to reconsider their diet choices.

The study was headed by Tasnime Akbaraly, researcher from the department of epidemiology and public health at the University College London. The research team looked at the diets of 5,350 men and women and followed them over the span of 16 years. The participants' mean age was 51 and the researchers recorded their dietary habits, medical records and mortality rates every five years. The researchers decided to categorize the findings into five sections. The first group was considered the ideal aging group, which composed of people who did not suffer from any chronic conditions and had healthy cognitive abilities. This group made up only 4 percent of the entire sample. The second group, with 12.7 percent, was titled the nonfatal cardiovascular event, which meant that people in this group suffered from a minor heart incident. The third group, which measured cardiovascular deaths, was made up of 2.8 percent from the sample group. The fourth section was non-cardiovascular death with 7.3 percent and the last section was considered to be the normal aging group with 73.2 percent.

The researchers concluded that people who consumed a western style diet lowered their chances of being in the ideal aging group. People who consumed food without adhering to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) were at higher risks of cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular type deaths. People considering healthier lifestyles would have to change their diets by first lowering their portions, followed by increasing intake of fruits and vegetables.

"We showed that following specific dietary recommendations such as one provided by the AHEI may be useful in reducing the risk of unhealthy aging, while avoidance of the 'Western-type foods' might actually improve the possibility of achieving older ages free of chronic diseases and remaining highly functional," Akbaraly stated.

The findings were published in Science Daily

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