HEALTHY AGING: Eat and Drink!

Well, here’s some good news for those of us who like a drink or two and relish our food.

Older people who put on a few extra pounds and enjoy a regular alcoholic drink are more likely to live to a ripe old age, according to new research.

Professor Claudia Kawas, a geriatric neurologist from the University of California, revealed the research at a recent science conference in the USA.

The University ran a 30-year study into people who live beyond 90 and they found that individuals who had gained weight and consumed two glasses of beer or wine per day had an 18 per cent reduced risk of premature death compared to those who abstained.

Professor Kawas, said: “As you age your body tries to put weight on. This is different to saying obesity is a good thing but maybe as you get to 60 or 70 physiologically it’s a good thing to gain weight. The best mortality experience is to gain between five and 10 pounds per decade.

“Underweight people had a 50 per cent increase in mortality. It’s not bad to be skinny when you’re young but it’s very bad to be skinny when you’re old.”

The researchers surveyed 17,000 people aged 55 to 100 on their lifestyles and since 2003 have been tracking more than 1,000 to learn their secrets. They found that people who drank a modest consumption of alcohol – from one or two beers or glasses of wine a week to one daily drink – lived longer on average than people who were teetotal.

People who consumed 200 to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day – about two cups of coffee – also lived longer.

Regular exercise and spending time practising a hobby were also associated with living longer, which included anything from volunteer work to attending church groups.

Professor Kawas added: “The more people you speak to outside of your own household will lower your risk [of dying].

“People think using your brain is solving a puzzle, but when you are getting out and interacting with people, you are using your brain a lot, particularly with people you are not living with.

“The number of times people get out of the house and interact with people outside of their family, that’s cognitive exercise and I think it’s no different from physical exercise. If you don’t use it, you lose it. It’s easier to keep it and harder to get it back.”


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