A study, as reported by ScienceDaily.com and other health sites, with results that will appear in the May issue of The American Journal of Medicine, has revealed that people who follow a Western-style diet have a reduced chance for reaching older age in good health and with high functionality.
The study was led by Dr. Tasnime Akbaraly, PhD, Inserm, Montpellier, France; his research team sought to identify dietary factors that can promote ideal aging and prevent premature death.
Dr. Akbaraly noted that “avoidance of ‘Western-type foods’ might actually improve the possibility of achieving an older age,” but more importantly,” achieve a lengthier life that is “free of chronic diseases” allowing the individual to remain highly functional.
What does this mean for parents?
With as many as 5% of children and adolescents affected by migraines and research confirming that dietary factors can trigger those migraines, it’s important to take a close look at your child’s diet.
The typical Western diet is filled with pro-inflammatory foods which lead to an overabundance of inflammation in the body, ultimately causing just about every type of chronic illness and disease, including migraines. Arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, dementia and obesity are just a few among the long list of afflictions.
If you aren’t sure how or why inflammation causes devastating effects on the body, picture a car that is left outdoors in the elements for a period of time. That car will eventually begin to rust and disintegrate. Finally, it falls apart completely. Inflammation works in a similar way in the body. While a little, such as what happens after an injury with swelling, is a natural part of the healing process, uncontrolled inflammation that remains for long periods of time can cause serious damage.
Pro-inflammatory foods that contribute to this overabundance of inflammation include many foods that are typically found in the Western diet, such as:
- · Packaged and processed foods including fast food and packaged desserts or snacks like cookies and cakes
- · Common cooking oils that contain unhealthy fats such as sunflower, safflower and vegetable oil
- · Margarine and heavily processed foods that contain Trans Fats
- · Refined sugar and sugary foods
- · Fried foods
- · Many high-fat dairy products (the exception is kefir and some yogurts like plain Greek-style yogurt)
- · Gluten and refined grains
- · Feedlot-raised meats, red meat and processed meats
If your child has been eating many of these foods, it would be difficult to force a dramatic change in diet. Instead, consider moderation as a key factor and limit the above items as much as you’re able. Stock your refrigerator with healthy snacks and be sure to follow a healthier diet yourself to set the right example.
By eating more nutritionally rich, high anti-oxidant foods, the symptoms of chronic illness, including migraines, can be greatly reduced as these foods help to neutralize the free radicals that result from too much inflammation. You’ll also be helping to reduce the chances of developing other chronic illnesses and disease.
Encourage as many whole fresh foods as possible. Talk to your child about what he or she likes, and pack a lunch that is based on some of those nutritious foods.
Foods that are especially rich in antioxidants include deeply-pigmented vegetables and fruits. Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and arugula as well as beets, blueberries and any richly colored purple, red, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables.
Healthy fats like the omega-3 fatty acids in wild-caught salmon and monounsaturated fats found in most nuts and olive oil are also important as they serve to decrease inflammation in the body and ultimately help to achieve optimal health.
As with adults, making gradual diet changes can lead to a happier, healthier, and much higher quality of life for your child now and in the future. No one would want their child to have to live with the constant pain and debilitation that can come with chronic illness and disease. If it can be prevented, doesn’t it make sense to do so sooner rather than later?
To the Best of Health,
Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.M., C.N.S.