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Sep 18, 2014 05:00 AM EDT

Positive Behaviour Causes Healthy Ageing, Study

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Positive attitude enhances immune system and boosts longevity among older people, according to a University of Queensland study.

"Despite the fact that people often think of late life as a period of doom and gloom, older people are often more positive than younger people. Our research suggests that this focus on the positive may help older people protect their declining health," Dr Elise Kalokerinos, from UQ's School of Psychology, said in a statement.

For the study, the researchers showed a series of positive and negative photos to 50 adults, aged between 65-90 years. After nearly two years, the participants were asked to remember the photos while researchers measured their immune function using a series of blood tests.

The researchers found that the participants, who recalled more positive than negative images, displayed enhanced immune function up to two years later.

"A person who focuses on positive information over negative information may be better able to cope with stressful situations, may take a more positive long-term outlook on life, and may maintain positive social interactions, thus reaping the immune benefits. These findings raise the possibility that humans have evolved to become more positive late in life in order to enhance their own longevity," Kalokerinos said.

The finding is published in Psychology and Aging.

A recent study by Loma Linda University School of Public Health found that vegetarian diets help create sustainable environment, lower greenhouse gas emissions and increase longevity.

Plant-based diets resulted in almost a third less emissions when compared to non-vegetarian diets. On the other hand, non-vegetarians were associated with a 20 percent higher mortality rate than vegetarians and semi-vegetarians.

Switching from non-vegetarian diets to vegetarian or semi-vegetarian diets helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers suggested that this could be a simple and effective tool for climate change alleviation and public health improvements.

"The takeaway message is that relatively small reductions in the consumption of animal products result in non-trivial environmental benefits and health benefits," Sam Soret, co-author of the study and an associate dean at Loma Linda University School of Public Health, said in a press release. "The study sample is heterogeneous and our data is rich. We analyzed more than 73,000 participants. The level of detail we have on food consumption and health outcomes at the individual level makes these findings unprecedented."

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