When it comes to diet, you hear so much about how it impacts your risk for chronic disease. But what you eat could also play a major role in your ability to walk around, get dressed, or even live independently. And as you age, mobility problems become a greater concern.
Nutrition and Mobility
Nutrition and mobility are closely associated, according to an interesting new study published in the Journal of Nutrition. The findings indicate that the benefits of a healthy, balanced diet extend far beyond mental health and risks for conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Mobility is extremely important in battling the effects of aging and continuing to live a full and independent life. For many, the inability to get dressed, walk through the neighborhood, or simply live without nearly constant attention can be depressing and further debilitating in its own right.
Study: Diet Related to Mobility Problems as We Age
Looking at 54,762 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, researchers used the Alternative Healthy Eating Index to track how participants’ diets related to mobility issues later in life. They found that those who reported a healthier diet were far less likely to develop physical impairments than those who ate less consciously. The researchers tracked diets and mobility for 28 years.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found that a higher intake of fruit and vegetables, moderate alcohol consumption, and a lower intake of sugar-sweetened drinks, trans fats, and sodium were associated with better mobility. This strengthens the idea of avoiding processed foods and sticking to food options that come directly from the earth.
Eating a nutritious diet provides nutrients to keep bones and muscles strong, allowing for higher physical function for a longer time. On the other hand, sugar and processed foods have the opposite effect; they lead to degeneration, weight gain, and increased stress on your bones and tissues, all of which impair performance and mobility over time.
Live Independently as You Get Older
To stay active and independent longer, pay attention to what you eat. Leafy greens, colorful fruit and vegetables, fish, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and lean protein can all help your bones, cells, and tissues stay healthy, while providing the energy you need to get around.
The intake of some specific food items showed stronger relationships with increased mobility—oranges, apples, pears, romaine or leaf lettuce, and walnuts—but the researchers stress that overall dietary quality is the key.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “For women, healthy diets may help with mobility when aging,” Science Daily web site, June 22, 2016; https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160622192426.htm, last accessed July 6, 2016.
Milaneschi, Y., “Depression in older persons with mobility limitations,” Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2014; doi:10.2174/13816128113196660060.