Eating your greens will NOT add 11 years to your life

Two of the biggest predictors of health are both politically incorrect to mention:  IQ and social class.  But ignoring them leads to all sorts of foolish conclusions.  Causes and effects are regularly mis-identified.  The misidentification can be rather hilarious  -- as below, where eating your greens is said to add 11 years to your life.

The African-American in the woodpile below is social class.  Middle class people are much more likely to follow official dietary advice and are also healthier. They are also healthier if they DON'T follow dietary advice.  So in the study below both the longer lives and the vegetable-rich diet are effects of social class.  There is no reason to believe that the diet had any effect on longevity.

The reasons why middle class people live longer are probably multifarious, with less risky lifestyles and more use of medical services being two such factors.  On the other hand there seems to be a general syndrome of biological fitness, with better health and IQ being connected -- meaning that high IQ is probably an  outcome of generally better brain health.  And smarter people are more likely to get rich and be middle class.  So there are a lot of interwoven effects there -- but diet has got nothing to do with any of it.

A study found that pensioners who regularly ate spinach and other leafy greens stayed sharper for longer.  Men and women who had just one or two helpings a day had the brainpower of people 11 years younger.

The US researchers said that something as simple as eating more greens could help protect against the onset of Alzheimer’s.

The researchers, from Rush University in Chicago, quizzed 950 men and women about their diet.  The volunteers, who had an average age of 81, then did a battery of mental tests every year for up to ten years.

The brains of those who ate leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, aged more slowly, the Experimental Biology conference in Boston heard.  The effect was big, with the slowing of cognitive decline equivalent to 11 years, on average.

It is thought that vitamin K, folate or vitamin B9, and the natural colourings lutein and beta-carotene were behind the effects.

Researcher Dr Martha Morris said: ‘Losing one’s memory or cognitive abilities is one of the biggest fears for people as they get older.... ‘Our study provides evidence that eating green leafy vegetables and other foods rich in vitamin K, lutein and beta-carotene can help to keep the brain healthy to preserve functioning.’

She now wants to find out just how these nutrients nourish the brain. [I'll bet she does]


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