Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer
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The importance of eating well is axiomatic thanks to decades of seminal research. With the foundational knowledge firmly established, researchers are now able to refine their understanding of the benefits specific items confer. Whole grains – a staple of any healthy, balanced diet – were the subject of research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Researchers sought to establish the link between specific types of grains and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality.
To do this they conducted a systematic review of the available literature on the subject.
For the analysis, 45 studies from 64 publications were included.
So, what did they find out?
“This meta-analysis provides further evidence that whole grain intake is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease; and total cancer; and mortality from all causes; respiratory diseases; infectious diseases; diabetes; all non-cardiovascular and non-cancer causes,” they wrote.
Specific whole grains were found to be more beneficial than others.
According to the researchers, whole grain bread, whole grain breakfast cereals, and added bran, as well as total bread and total breakfast cereals were associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and/or all cause mortality.
“There was little evidence of an association with refined grains, white rice, total rice, or total grains,” they added.
What makes whole grains so healthy?
According to the Mayo Clinic, grains are naturally high in fibre, helping you feel full and satisfied — which makes it easier to maintain a healthy body weight.
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“Whole grains are also linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other health problems,” says the health body.
According to the NHS, whole grain items should make up just over a third of everything you eat.
“This means your meals should be based on these foods,” says the health body.
It adds: “Choose wholegrain or wholemeal varieties of starchy foods, such as brown rice, wholewheat pasta, and brown, wholemeal or higher fibre white bread.”
Other key tips for boosting longevity
In addition to eating well, exercise is crucial to prolonging your lifespan.
It can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
What’s more, it’s free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a GP to get some.
Research also shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy.
Given the extensive evidence, it is vital that you stay physically active.
To stay healthy, UK guidelines say adults should try to be active every day and aim to achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week through a variety of activities.
“For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quick enough to raise your heart rate, breathe faster and feel warmer,” says the NHS.
This level of effort is called moderate intensity activity.
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