The worst diet for seniors is...

It's called the Western diet, but "diet" is a poor word choice here.

"Disaster" is a much better way to describe a lifestyle of processed junk, refined carbohydrates, fried foods, and excessive amounts of red meat -- and disaster is exactly what you'll get if you follow any part of this "diet" yourself.

New research confirms that the Western diet will give you the exact opposite of healthy aging, doubling your risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes and increasing your risk of an early death.

And if that's not enough bad news for you, the study of more than 5,000 Brits tracked for up to 25 years also links the Western diet to a slower walk and -- even worse -- a slower mind, in the form of poor cognitive performance.

So yes, disaster is a much better word -- but this is one disaster you can avoid, because what you eat every day is one of the few things in life that's completely within your control.

The study even points you in the right direction, finding that people are more likely to enjoy healthy aging when they stick to the basics of the Alternative Healthy Eating Index.

That's a diet plan developed by Harvard researchers as an alternative to the disastrous advice dished out over the years by the USDA, including the so-called food pyramid.

The AHEI limits red meats and dairy, but allows for healthy fats and protein such as fish. It also limits processed and refined carbs, but allows for whole grains. And, of course, it encourages daily activity along with that healthy eating.

Sound familiar?

It shares some of the same basic principles as the Mediterranean diet I've been writing to you about -- and while the two are not quite the same, they have plenty in common... including the disease-beating benefits.

I've done the research on this, and I still prefer the Mediterranean diet -- I think it's easier to follow and puts more options on your plate. It's also been backed by hundreds of studies, including one I told you about recently that found it can protect your heart and slash your risk of stroke.

So forget the disaster that is the so-called Western diet -- and try a real diet instead.