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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Research Project #436342

Research Project: Nutrition, Epidemiology, and Healthy Aging

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Project Number: 8050-51530-014-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 16, 2019
End Date: Mar 11, 2024

Objective 1: Characterize diet to determine patterns that associate with healthy aging, and construct models of the various components of these dietary patterns to determine the contribution that each component of the pattern provides to overall associations, while concurrently considering the joint associations of different dietary components. Subobjective 1.A: Form a new cohort composed of participants adhering to more plant-based dietary patterns to identify factors associated with long-term adherence to healthier dietary patterns and to examine the health benefits of adherence to these dietary patterns. Subobjective 1.B: Describe the relationship between water intake, hydration and age, and examine the relationships between water intake and hydration and healthy aging. Objective 2: Determine the relationships between specific foods, nutrients, and other bioactive dietary components of dietary patterns and healthy aging and key elements of healthy aging, such as physical, metabolic, musculoskeletal, vision, and cognitive function. Subobjective 2.A: Examine the relationship between inadequate vitamin B12 status and accelerated brain aging and explore potential exacerbation of this relationship by high folate status. Objective 3: Examine the potential genetic modification of the relationships between dietary patterns and their constituents associated with healthy aging, and employ metabolomic and transcriptomic “signatures” of optimal dietary patterns and of healthy aging to detect pathways that may link diet and healthy aging. Subobjective 3.A: Examine the association between sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption and dyslipidemia and determine if single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the CHREBP locus affect this association.

Diet plays a critical role in maintaining health across the lifespan, but questions remain about the relationship between nutrition and healthy aging, including physical, cardiometabolic, and cognitive health. Using an epidemiological approach applied to community-based, aging populations, we will study diet patterns and provide the evidence needed to create interventions to foster healthy aging. Most of our research will focus on the impact of the entire diet and dietary behaviors, a departure from the more traditional approach of isolating single nutrients. This approach, broadly referred to as dietary pattern analysis, is more predictive of health outcomes and more reflective of the way people eat. We will link this approach with genetics, metabolomics, and transcriptomics in the context of large community-based aging cohorts so we can characterize not just healthy aging phenomena, but make an impact by identifying optimal dietary and behavior patterns at both the individual and population levels. The dietary pattern methodology allows us to capture the complexity of diet and the interactions of different dietary components. In addition to conventional diets, we will include alternative diets such as whole food and plant-based (e.g., vegan diets). We will identify factors associated with adherence to such diets; examine potential mechanisms by which bioactive dietary components affect health outcomes (e.g., B vitamins and dementia); and identify factors, such as genetic variation, responsible for differences in response to dietary patterns and food components (such as sugar intake). Results of this research will allow us to translate the science of nutrition and healthy aging into guidance for the public.