Adherence to the Nordic Diet Prolongs Lifespan and Supports Cognition

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Adherence to the Nordic Diet Prolongs Lifespan and Supports Cognition
  • Older adults consuming a Nordic-style diet had 19% increased rate of survival without developing disability or dementia. 

  • High Nordic diet adherence prolonged lifespan without mental and physical disability by an average of 1.24 years. 

  • The Nordic diet focuses on foods commonly consumed in the Nordic countries — Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland — including berries, fish, vegetables, legumes, low-fat dairy, whole grains, herbs, and spices. 

This study was published in the journal Clinical Nutrition in July 2021: 

(study abstract excerpt):

Healthy diet has been associated with decreased mortality, but its impact on survival without disability is less clear. We aimed to investigate the association between the Nordic Prudent Diet Pattern (NPDP) and dementia- and disability-free survival, and to assess its interaction with other healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Within the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care-Kungsholmen, 2290 dementia- and disability-free adults aged ≥60 were followed up to 12 years to detect survival free from dementia (standard criteria) and disability (Katz's Activities of Daily Living). NPDP index was assessed at baseline with a 98-item food frequency questionnaire (characterized mainly by more frequent intakes of vegetable, fruit, cooking, cereals, whole grains, fish, and water) and was further categorized into tertiles (low, moderate, or high). Information on lifestyle factors was collected via baseline questionnaire. A favorable (vs unfavorable) lifestyle profile was determined based on smoking status, social network and physical activity. Data were analyzed using Cox proportional hazard regression models and Laplace regression.

During the follow-up, 1074 participants survived without dementia and disability (614 died, 518 became disabled, and 84 developed dementia). Compared to low NPDP adherence, the hazard ratio (HR) of high NPDP adherence was 1.19 (95% CI 1.04–1.34) for dementia- and disability-free survival. High NPDP adherence prolonged lifespan without mental and physical disability by an average of 1.24 years (95% CI 0.11–2.37). Further, among participants with high NPDP adherence, a favorable lifestyle profile was associated with an even higher HR (1.96, 95% CI 1.52–2.42) of dementia- and disability-free survival, corresponding to an average of 3.80 (95% CI 2.25–5.35) years longer life compared to those with low NPDP adherence and an unfavorable lifestyle profile.

High adherence to NPDP prolongs survival with good mental and physical function for more than one year, and this could increase to almost four years with a favorable lifestyle.

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