Research: Inflammatory food could contribute to muscle aging


Tuesday, 23 January, 2024

Research: Inflammatory food could contribute to muscle aging

Inflammatory foods may contribute to muscle degeneration in people aged over 65, a link found after three years of PhD research by Dietetics graduate Corey Linton of the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Linton’s paper, co-authored by three UniSC academics and published in the journal Nutrients, found links between the symptoms of muscle degeneration and the level of inflammatory foods in the diets of older people living in their own homes.

According to Linton, adults who recorded lower numbers on the dietary inflammatory index had higher muscle mass and strength compared to those who consumed more inflammatory foods.

Though other factors, such as exercise and genetics, contribute to muscle health with ample research to show it, the study examined diets, particularly with inflammatory or anti-inflammatory foods.

“The findings reinforce Australian nutrition guidelines which recommend that we all eat five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit daily and balance our diets as much as possible,” Linton said.

Diet was an important consideration as the rate of chronic musculoskeletal diseases such as sarcopenia (loss of muscle strength and function) continued to increase among aging Australians.

“Muscle health can be overlooked as a chronic disease but these participants told us how important it is to their daily lives, to enable independence and living in the community,” Linton said.

The findings were based on 200 adults aged between 65 and 85, recording what they ate in one 24-hour period, noting foods with positive or negative inflammatory effects such as vegetables, fruit, meat products, herbs and spices, raw and processed products.

The researchers assessed the participants’ musculoskeletal health, grip strength, walking and gait and scanned their bone density and body composition.

Dr Hattie Wright, PhD supervisor and UniSC Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics, said food is a tool that can be used more to assist healthy aging.

With an aging population, it is vital to understand what people can do to maintain independence, health and quality of life as they grow older.

The research, co-authored by Wright, Dr Dan Wadsworth and Dr Mia Schaumberg, was funded through a UniSC-Sunshine Coast Council Regional Partnership Agreement.

Image credit: iStock.com/evgenyatamanenko

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