Diet for your age and gender, say food scientists


London: A healthy diet is eating the right food for your age and gender.That is the advice from one of the UK’s leading food scientists, Dr Sian Astley, who belives that in the future food will be formulated for different ages and sexes.

She said the same diet is not for everyone that the sensible approach is best. Young women, for example, who those hoping to become pregnant should eat foods with folic acid such as green leafy vegtables, asparagas, citrus fruit, wholemeal breads and cereals. This form of vitamin B helps prevent defects such as brain and spinal impairments.
At the samt time they should also have an adequate intake of iron, as many women of child-bearing age do not eat enough red meat.

But as people age the body’s food requirements change. Busy people and mothers need to keep energy levels up therefore its wise to eat complex carbohydrates to provide a slow steady release of energy.

And in old age we need to prevent some of the common diseases such as osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s by eating calcium rich goods, vitamin B and plenty of oily fish.

Dr Astley, of the Institute of Food Research in Norwich speaking at the British Association Festival of Science, said: ‘The way we process vitamin B, for example, changes dramatically as we reach old age. Our body can still process it but really struggles to extract it from the food we eat. There might be an argument for a fortified food or there may be a reason for taking a supplement.’

Men becoming increasingly at risk of prostate cancer as they age so they should boost their intake of anti-oxidants that boost the immune system such as tomatoes.These foods may also help women who may be at risk from herediary cancers.

This new study is the latest to support the growing body of evidence that eating healthily is the biggest contributor to longevity.

Comments Dr Astley: “As we get older, our bodies are less effective at avoiding disease; our immune systems are less able to detect and mount a defence. This results in an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cataract and arthritis.

‘Poor diet can accelerate this process whilst 80 per cent of casecontrolled studies support the hypothesis that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of age-related illness.’ She cautioned-however, that there is no guarantee that even the healthiest of diets will be able to ward off illness.

For instance, cereal manufacturers may provide versions fortified with particular age-groups or sexes in mind. ‘We are not expecting 500 types of Weetabix for every type of person, but perhaps five that are formulated differently for different types of diet or age,’ said Dr Astley.