How to live longer: New study reveals what foods to eat to increase your life expectancy

Long life expectancy could be achieved by eating foods rich in magnesium, according to a new study. Research showed older people with the best physical abilities have higher levels of magnesium in their muscle tissue.


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The study novel imaging techniques to examine differences in strength among hundreds of volunteers.

It found those with the best physical performance in old age had higher levels of magnesium in their muscle tissue.

Magnesium – a mineral found in many foods including green vegetables, seeds and bananas, is vital for efficient muscle function.

However it declines in the body with age particularly in women, which may contribute to their greater tendency to frailty in old age.

The project was led by Dr Donnie Cameron of East Anglia University and a group from the prestigious Institute of Ageing in America.

It involved more than 400 volunteers mostly aged over 60, who undertook three days of strength, stamina and balance testing.

Dr Cameron used the novel method of magnetic resonance spectroscopy to show that magnesium concentration in muscle is much more important than circulating levels in blood.

He said: “We showed there’s a strong relationship between magnesium and muscle strength in men and women and lower magnesium levels were more common in older women.

“This is the first large-scale study of this kind. Magnesium deficiency clearly affects a lot of people and is a big issue in our society.

“Magnesium content of food has been decreasing because of the consumption of more processed foods and lot of people suffer from muscle cramps as a result of low levels.

“The study has just been published in the Journal Frontiers of Physiology.

His unit is now hoping to investigate the effects of magnesium supplements on athletic performance, however tablet magnesium supplements are notoriously difficult to absorb.


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His team has now been approached by Cambridge Nutraceuticals, a research-based supplement manufacturer which produces Magnesium+ a bio-engineered product shown in laboratory tests to have twice the absorption rate of natural magnesium.

“We know our product is more effective and independent clinical trials using this new technique would be an excellent way to prove it,” said company spokesman Gill ShafferEddie (Edwina) Brocklesby, 76, Britain’s oldest female iron man contestant, said she has been aware of the growing interest in magnesium for more than two years.

“There does seem to be evidence that it is good for muscles and energy levels,’ says Eddie from London, known in her family as iron gran, who six years ago started Silverfit which organises physical activities for older people.

“My daughter is a doctor. I think it was she and a personal trainer at my gym who both told me I should be taking it.”

A former social worker with three children and four grandchildren, she took up running aged 52 when her husband died and has now been honoured with a TSB Pride of Sport award and publicity for Silverfit on Facebook, generating close to a million hits.

She has now switched to Magnesium+ and will be able to test its benefits when she does her next iron man contest in Kona, Hawaii next July.

Other diets proven to increase life expectancy

Last month, a study suggested eating at certain times of the day provides life-boosting benefits.

Dr Mark Mattson, a professor of neuroscience at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, in the US, said “intermittent fasting could be part of a healthy lifestyle.” 

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