The rising numbers of aging seniors worldwide is being accompanied by an increase in chronic diseases. Researchers are now concentrating on learning more about healthy aging rather than only researching longevity. In other words, what can be done to help someone live a long and healthy life without suffering from chronic physical and neurodegenerative diseases? A study published October 17, 2018 in the BMJ showed that eating sea food like fish that contains high amounts of circulating omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (n3-PUFA) is associated with healthy aging. The study was led by Heidi Lai at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Boston.
Healthy Aging is Surviving without Chronic Diseases
The researchers define healthy aging as surviving without chronic and neurodegenerative diseases like:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Severe chronic kidney disease (CKD)
- Chronic lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Other dementias
Less Severe Medical Conditions
The researches also added the absence of other less severe disease conditions to be part of the definition of healthy aging such as living without:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Coronary artery bypass surgery
- Mild or moderate chronic kidney disease
The Cardiovascular Health Study: Prospective Cohort Study 1992-2015
Participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study: Prospective Cohort Study 1992-2015 were 5888 seniors (65% women) about the age of 75 who were all in good health at the start of the study in 1992. The participants were from four American communities:
- Sacramento County, California
- Washington County, Maryland
- Forsyth County, North Carolina
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Previous Studies Showed Mixed Results
Previous research had mainly relied on self-reported information about eating habits and this led to conflicting results. However, this study did not rely only on self-reported information, but the researchers carried out physical examinations and tests on the participants, as well as telephone interviews.
Tests for the Participants
Tests for the participants included the following:
Tests to measure the blood levels of 46 different types of circulating omega 3 fatty acids were carried out at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre Biomarker Laboratory in 1992-93, 1998-99 and 2005-06.
- Cumulative levels of plasma phospholipid n3-PUFAs were measured using gas chromatography in 1992-93, 1998-99, and 2005-06 for the total fatty acids derived from plants and from sea foods.
- Total body mass
- Waist measurement
- Physical activity
- Blood pressure
- C-reactive protein
- Low density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol)
- High density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol)
Results of the Cardiovascular Health Study
The results of the Cardiovascular Health Study showed that 89% of the participants experienced unhealthy aging, while 11% experienced healthy aging. Higher levels of long chain n-3 PUFAS that are found abundantly in sea food were associated with an 18% lower risk for unhealthy aging. The n-3 PUFAS helped to regulate blood pressure, heart rate and inflammation and thus promoted healthy aging.
Those participants who consumed the largest amounts of n-3 PUFAS found in sea food tended to be educated women with a higher income who lived a healthy lifestyle.
Participants in the highest group consumed about one additional weekly serving of fish, compared with the lowest group. See our blog post from April 11, 2018 that refers to a study that showed that people who ate more fish had larger brains.
Short or Long-term Rehab and Skilled Nursing
If you or your loved one are in need of a skilled nursing or rehab facility, make sure they serve good nutritious food that includes sea food like fish.
The Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in scenic Galloway Township, New Jersey offers fine dining with delicious and healthy meals with a variety of selection prepared by a skilled chef under the supervision and guidance of a registered dietitian. Special dietary needs are gladly accommodated.
The researchers suggest that seniors should consume more sea food in order to increase the chance for healthy aging.