Nutrition can alter risk for aging-related diseases rivaling pharmacotherapy in efficacy.
Such eating patterns include the Okinawan, Mediterranean, DASH and Portfolio diets.
These diets have abundant vegetable, legume, and marine functional foods.
The Okinawan diet is especially rich in pharmacologically active phyto- and marine compounds.
Several potential anti-aging compounds modulate insulin signaling and inflammatory pathways.
The traditional diet in Okinawa is anchored by root vegetables (principally sweet potatoes), green and yellow vegetables, soybean-based foods, and medicinal plants. Marine foods, lean meats, fruit, medicinal garnishes and spices, tea, alcohol are also moderately consumed. Many characteristics of the traditional Okinawan diet are shared with other healthy dietary patterns, including the traditional Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, and Portfolio diet. All these dietary patterns are associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, among other age-associated diseases. Overall, the important shared features of these healthy dietary patterns include: high intake of unrefined carbohydrates, moderate protein intake with emphasis on vegetables/legumes, fish, and lean meats as sources, and a healthy fat profile (higher in mono/polyunsaturated fats, lower in saturated fat; rich in omega-3). The healthy fat intake is likely one mechanism for reducing inflammation, optimizing cholesterol, and other risk factors. Additionally, the lower caloric density of plant-rich diets results in lower caloric intake with concomitant high intake of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Other shared features include low glycemic load, less inflammation and oxidative stress, and potential modulation of aging-related biological pathways. This may reduce risk for chronic age-associated diseases and promote healthy aging and longevity.
Corresponding author at: Department of Geriatric Medicine, University of Hawaii, Kuakini Medical Center Campus, HPM-9, 347 N. Kuakini Street, Honolulu, HI 96817, United States. Tel.: +1 808 523 8461; fax: +1 808 528 1897.