The Livewell Programme is being run by experts at Newcastle University, who will work with volunteers to try to improve their physical health through exercise and healthier eating, including adopting a more Mediterranean-style diet. If the trial proves to be successful it could be rolled out across the country.
Studies have shown that in those people who eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals and fish, modest amounts of dairy products and less red meat and saturated fats, the risk of dying from cancer is reduced by up to 24 per cent, the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease or Alzheimer’s Disease was reduced by up to 52 per cent, and the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke by 36 per cent.
At a launch event chef and restaurateur Terry Laybourne will be on hand to give demonstrations of some simple, but delicious recipes. There will also be exercise advice, samples of food and interactive displays at the event, in the Great North Museum in Newcastle.
Prof Paula Moynihan, nutrition expert at Newcastle University, said: “People these days are living longer but not necessarily in a state of good health. Just a few easy changes could dramatically improve quality of life into old age. It is never too late to start eating healthily.
“The diet in the Mediterranean includes a lot more fruit and vegetables, more fish and olive oil and less red meat and less animal fats in the cooking process.
“By switching to a Mediterranean style diet people can live in good health for longer – easy changes to your lifestyle could add years of healthy and fulfilling life.”
Chef Terry Laybourne said: “Mediterranean style food is just so versatile. I will be giving some really simple recipes, which create really healthy but incredibly tasty food. There is nothing complicated in any of it, anyone at home can follow these recipes and really improve what they eat.”
But Livewell will not just focus on physical health, it will also promote emotional wellbeing through an active social life.
Prof John Mathers, Director of the Human Nutrition Research Centre and project leader said: “Many factors can contribute to a healthy older age. The main thrust of the Livewell Programme project is to discover how we can help people to adopt a healthier lifestyle, by changing what they eat, taking a bit more exercise and leading a more active social life.
“The period around retirement is a great time for this as people are already making life changes and this project can just be another one of those, with long term benefits for healthier life.”
“The lessons we learn from Livewell could be rolled out across the country once the project has finished and it will provide us with essential information about how to help people adopt healthier livestyles as our population continues to age.”
The project is funded through the LifeLong Health and Wellbeing (LLHW) Cross Council programme.