The Council for Responsible Nutrition-International has published an article in the European Journal of Nutrition, covering the necessity of proper nutrition for a long, healthy life, and discusses specific nutrients that have major potential. The information comes from CRN-I’s 11th Scientific Symposium, the purpose of which is to bring current scientific thoughts on nutrition to an audience largely made up of delegates to the annual Codex Alimentarius committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses.
The article explains that globally, there has been a marked increase in longevity, but that major inequalities remain, particularly the inequality related to poor health in later years. “The major causes,” the paper states, “include lack of access to proper nutrition and healthcare services, and often the basic information to make the personal decisions related to diet and healthcare options and opportunities. Proper nutrition can be the best predictor of a long healthy life expectancy and, conversely, when inadequate and/or improper a prognosticator of a sharply curtailed expectancy.” Many countries have access to massive amounts of food, but that food is not high in nutrition; and on the other hand, many countries do not have enough access to food at all. This leads to skyrocketing rates of health deficiencies and chronic diseases, not to mention premature mortality.
“There is need for new and/or innovative approaches to promoting health as individuals’ age, and for public health programs to be a proactive blessing and not an archaic status quo ‘eat your vegetables’ mandate,” the authors wrote. They pointed to certain WHO mandates as a framework, and laid out an end goal: “Propose that regulators consider possible public health objectives to prevent and alleviate the bane of chronic health crises, especially at the end of one’s lifespan.”
The paper goes in-depth on population aging, which now affects all corners of the world—wherein life expectancy is increasing, but birth rates are decreasing, leading to an ever-aging population. It delves into the importance of dietary protein and amino acids, explaining the insufficiency of previous estimates of the importance of muscle mass to older people’s health. It then turns to DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in particularly high concentrations in the central nervous system, and discusses the benefits of prenatal supplementation with DHA. Vitamin D, which has come into the spotlight in the past year, also gets a section, explaining the global deficiency in vitamin D, the controversy surrounding its usefulness to the immune system, and the need for further research. The paper further notes the importance of diet with regards to inflammaging, wherein inflammation plays a major role in the onset and development of degenerative diseases, and wherein chronic inflammation can be addressed via lifestyle factors. Finally, it summarizes the findings of a 2019 workshop examining a path for the establishment of a dietary reference intake for the omega-3s EPA and DHA.
The paper concludes: “For the most part, we are all living longer than our forebears…with many population subsets living 30–35 years longer than at the turn of the 20th Century. Unfortunately, as life expectancies have increased, a term referred to as the ‘Longevity Revolution’, there has not been a parallel increase in the ‘healthy life expectancy’ (defined as the period of life spent in good health, free from the chronic diseases and disabilities of ageing).” This is due, the authors write, to deteriorating or nonexistent personal and national economics, social services, public health measures, and familial and community support.
“Society’s response to population aging,” the paper ends, “will require a vision to harness the years spent in ‘good health’ (e.g., the healthy life expectancy) to those hoped for extra years of life. In essence not only more years to life but also more life to years. A fundamental transformation in public policies and institutions is required to ensure a future that celebrates diversity yet narrows health inequities, within and across countries.”