The health of the older population is a hot-button topic in the U.S. and globally.
It has been a subject of intense research for decades, and some experts argue that it could be a critical factor in reducing the burden of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
The health care sector, which has been the focus of much of the recent debate, has faced challenges in reaching older adults.
It needs to improve its customer service, improve the way it provides information to older adults, and create better technology for patients to manage their health, according to a recent study published by the National Institute on Aging.
One thing that is not working is understanding the health effects of the lifestyle changes that older people may have, including increased cholesterol and elevated blood pressure, the study found.
And one thing that’s working better is understanding how people with chronic diseases are metabolizing the foods and supplements that are designed to improve their health and well-being, said Rachael J. Krieger, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan who co-authored the study.
The study is the first to show that there is a significant association between eating more fruit and vegetables and the overall health of an older population, she said.
A 2015 paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that older adults were consuming about 2.5 times more fruit, and about 4 times more vegetables, than younger adults.
The data is consistent with what has been shown in the literature, Kriegers co-author Michael S. Johnson said.
But in this study, there was no evidence that there was a direct relationship between consumption of fruits and vegetables or vegetables and overall health.
“We found that these associations were independent of age, sex, and other lifestyle factors, including smoking, physical activity, and alcohol consumption,” he said.
People with a history of heart disease are at greater risk for developing chronic disease than people without a history, Kieger said.
“The idea is that the lifestyle choices that older individuals make are the ones that lead to the greatest health benefit for them, but those same lifestyle choices are not always sustainable.”
The researchers used data from the Nurses Health Study, which followed the health and medical histories of more than 4,500 U.K. women and men for nearly 40 years.
They compared the health status of the participants to their usual diet, including the amount of fruit and vegetable intake, how often they ate fruits and veggies, and their cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting blood glucose levels.
The researchers found that people who ate more fruit had a lower risk of having heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension and chronic disease, but they were also at higher risk for having cardiovascular disease, which is defined as having more than 150 percent of your LDL (bad) cholesterol.
People who ate the least fruits and less vegetables had the highest risk of heart and diabetes, and also were at the highest risks for all the other diseases, Kriesger said, noting that these findings were in line with the literature.
“There is no causal relationship between fruit and veggie consumption and the risk of any of the diseases or the number of chronic conditions,” Kriege said.
That said, Kriegers findings could have important implications for health care providers and the public.
The American Heart Association has urged Americans to limit the amount and frequency of fruit, vegetables and other foods that older Americans consume.
The organization says that many fruits and fruits and vegetable-rich foods are “potentially harmful,” and that older and frail adults should limit the consumption of processed foods, such as cookies, cakes, pies, cookies and candy.