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Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Nov;86(5):1572S-6S.

Keeping the young-elderly healthy: is it too late to improve our health through nutrition?

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Anne Fisher Nutrition Center, Strang Cancer Research Laboratory, New York, NY, USA.


Healthy older individuals can take several measures to preserve and improve their health. Even if past nutritional and lifestyle practices were not optimal, much can be done to reduce the risk of chronic disease and disability in future years. The first challenge is to recognize and address the profound changes in body composition that occur with aging. Older persons tend to accumulate relatively more body fat and less lean body mass, ie, muscle and bone. With a gain in body weight, which usually occurs, these changes are exaggerated. Because muscle tissue has a much higher metabolic rate than does fat tissue, older individuals generally develop lower metabolic rates. To avoid excess weight gain, older individuals must make major restrictions in caloric intake and increases in energy expenditure. Women experience changes in body composition similar to those in men, with changes becoming more prominent at menopause. Exercise improves body composition among healthy elderly, both by reducing fat mass and by increasing bone and muscle mass, thereby helping to restore higher metabolic rates. In men and women aged >/=65 y and taking calcium and vitamin D supplements for 3 y, the rate of bone loss slowed and the incidence of nonvertebral fractures was reduced. Several population studies of older persons show that following nutritional and lifestyle guidelines for cancer prevention reduces risk by one-third. Improving serum lipid concentrations in adults over 65 y of age with coronary artery disease decreases the risk of future cardiac events by as much as 45%. Furthermore, the greatest benefit from control of hypertension is in older individuals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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