Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer
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Chronic diseases are largely preventable if you lead a healthy lifestyle. That’s because most of the things we care about, such as the preservation of internal organs, is directly connected to healthy eating. A wealth of evidence backs up this claim. Now, a series of studies published in the journal Foods points to the protective potential of grapes.
Research headed up by John Pezzuto, PhD, dean and professor of pharmaceutics of the Western New England University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences sought to establish whether grapes could counter the effects of a high-fat Western diet.
One study showed that adding grapes in an amount equal to just under two cups of grapes per day to a high-fat diet, typically consumed in western countries, yielded reductions in fatty liver and extended lifespans.
The California Table Grape Commission provided the grapes used in the studies as well as partial support.
In a series of experiments, mice loaded up on a high-fat diet typically consumed in western countries.
They also received a daily powdered grape supplement equivalent to a small container of the fruit.
Results show the lab rodents had less fatty liver and lived longer than peers.
Adding grapes to a high-fat diet also increased levels of antioxidant genes and delayed natural death.
“The change observed in the study would correspond to an additional four to five years in the life of a human,” said Professor Pezzuto.
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He did acknowledge that it is not an exact science to translate years of lifespan from a mouse to a human.
What’s more, the research also suggested grapes have brain-boosting potential.
They grapes had positive effects on behaviour and cognition that were impaired in mice fed high fat diets without the extract.
A third study shows that in addition to the other qualities, grapes also help burn up calories by increasing metabolism.
“The adverse response was diminished by grape intervention. Life-long survival was also enhanced,” said Professor Pezzuto
“These results suggest the potential of dietary grapes to modulate gene expression, prevent oxidative damage, induce fatty acid metabolism, ameliorate NAFLD and increase longevity when co-administered with a high-fat diet.”
Noting that these studies add an entirely new dimension to the old saying ‘you are what you eat,’ Professor Pezzuto, who has authored over 600 scientific studies, said that the work with grapes showed actual changes in genetic expression.
“That is truly remarkable.”
It’s worth noting that this is a mice study so it’s not clear if the results will be reproduced in humans.
More research is therefore needed to test how generalisable this hypothesis is.
It’s also worth remembering that you should not rely on a single item to boost longevity.
For best results, you should eat a healthy, balanced diet to maintain good health and help you feel your best.
“This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight,” explains the NHS.
The health body adds: “There’s evidence that people who eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.”
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