weekly blog--one for the ages
With the holidays upon us and the dessert plate full, some food for thought. According to a new study from researchers at Binghamton University, dietary practices differentially affect mental health based on your age. Mood in young adults (age 18 to 29) seems to be dependent on food that increases availability of neurotransmitter precursors and concentrations in the brains (meat), while mood in mature adults (over 30 years old) may be more reliant on food that increases availability of antioxidants (fruits) and abstinence of food that inappropriately activates the sympathetic nervous system (coffee, high glycemic index and skipping breakfast).
In other words, young adults who ate meat (red or white) less than three times a week and exercised less than three times week showed a significant mental distress. Conversely, mature adult mood seemed to be more sensitive to regular consumption of sources of antioxidants and abstinence of food that inappropriately activates the innate fight-or-flight response, commonly known as the stress response.
In another study, Texas A&M Medical School researchers found that your DNA plays a role in determining which diet will make you lean and healthy. For example, one of the four genetic types did very poorly when eating the Japanese-like diet. The fourth strain, which performed just fine on all of the other diets, did terrible on this diet, with increased fat in the liver and markings of liver damage. A similar thing happened with the Atkins-like diet: two genetic types did well, and two did very badly. One became very obese, with fatty livers and high cholesterol. The other had a reduction in activity level and more body fat, but still remained lean.
The bottom line: in recent decades, life expectancy at age 65 in the U.S. has been lagging behind other high-income countries, particularly for women, according to a report from the Center of Retirement Research at Boston College. A major reason is that, historically, the U.S. has had higher rates of smoking and obesity.
As a result, the U.S. has made less progress at reducing deaths related to strokes, respiratory diseases, and diabetes. If U.S. smoking and obesity rates had matched those of its peer countries, U.S. life expectancy would have exceeded the average until recently. Since smoking is no longer a major contributor to the life expectancy gap; the real challenge is curbing obesity.