New research has suggested that women can help keep their mobility into later life if they have a good diet when they are younger.
The study, conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), found a link between women who had a consistently healthy diet and a reduced risk of developing mobility problems as they aged.
Published in the Journal of Nutrition, the research looked at more than 54,700 women who had been involved in the Nurses' Health Study.
The researchers measured mobility and physical function every four years between 1992 and 2008, while their diet was evaluated through food questionnaires.
"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, " says Francine Grodstein, ScD, senior author of the study and a researcher in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH.
She said the aim of the study was to look at how diet patterns can impact physical function as people age.Their findings suggest that women who maintained a healthier diet were less likely to develop physical impairments, compared to those who regularly ate a less balanced diet.
Unsurprisingly, the team also found that eating more vegetables and fruits, and less sugar-sweetened beverages, trans-fats, and sodium, were each significantly linked to less physical impairments in later life.
"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," says Kaitlin Hagan, ScD, MPH, first author and a postdoctoral fellow at BWH.
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