There is a mountain of evidence that underscores the importance of eating a healthy diet to ward off the threat of developing deadly health complications. Diet plays an essential role in warding off major health threats such as heart disease, for example. As a result, health bodies have consistently championed sticking to a heart-healthy diet to boost longevity.
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Gut health also plays a pivotal role in keeping health threats at bay and boosting life expectancy and new research highlights a particular herb for its gut health benefits.
According to findings presented at a research event on ageing well hosted by Yakult in Tokyo, Japan, the popular herb was shown to boost gut health and subsequently extent longevity.
The findings attribute the gut health benefits to the high amounts of natural fibres that are found in garlic, which boosts “good” bacteria.
These crowd out harmful gut bacteria which are known to contribute to everything from cancer and dementia to obesity and mental illness.
Microorganisms in the body such as bacteria make up ten times more cells and 100 times more DNA than the host body itself, notes the study, so it is vital that the good bacteria takes centre stage to support the body’s vital functions.
The findings add to the existing literature that demonstrates the health benefits of consuming garlic, with previous research suggesting it can lower blood pressure too.
High blood pressure can also pose a threat to life expectancy because a consistently high reading can lead to deadly cardiovascular complications such as heart disease.
Human studies have found garlic supplements to have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
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In one study, 600–1,500 mg of aged garlic extract was just as effective as the blood pressure-lowering drug Atenolol at reducing blood pressure over a 24-week period.
In addition, garlic has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol – a waxy substance that sticks to the walls of your blood vessels, where it can cause blockages.
High LDL levels are a precursor to heart disease so it is important to keep LDL cholesterol levels in check.
A meta-analysis found that garlic supplements reduced total and/or LDL cholesterol by about 10–15 percent in people with high cholesterol.
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Crucially, garlic should form part of plant-based diet to ward off the threat of deadly diseases and boost life expectancy.
According to findings published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, eating mostly plant-based foods and fewer animal-based foods may be linked to better heart health and a lower risk of dying from a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular disease.
“While you don’t have to give up foods derived from animals completely, our study does suggest that eating a larger proportion of plant-based foods and a smaller proportion of animal-based foods may help reduce your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other type of cardiovascular disease,” said lead researcher, Casey M. Rebholz, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.
Researchers analysed a database of food intake information from more than 10,000 middle-aged U.S. adults who were monitored from 1987 through 2016 and did not have cardiovascular disease at the start of the study.
They then categorised the participants’ eating patterns by the proportion of plant-based foods they ate versus animal-based foods.
People who ate the most plant-based foods overall had a:
- 16 percent lower risk of having a cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks, stroke, heart failure and other conditions
- 32 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease
- 25 percent lower risk of dying from any cause compared to those who ate the least amount of plant-based foods.
“Our findings underscore the importance of focusing on your diet. There might be some variability in terms of individual foods, but to reduce cardiovascular disease risk people should eat more vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fruits, legumes and fewer animal-based foods,” Rebholz said.
He added: “These findings are pretty consistent with previous findings about other dietary patterns, including the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, which emphasise the same food items.”
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