NEW research has shown people living alone are less healthy, but Dunoon's Elaine Wood is firmly bucking that trend.

Elaine, 71, has revolutionised her lifestyle by focusing most of her time on a relationship with the food she consumes. A large part of her day is spent in the garden and this has the added benefit of giving her all the exercise she needs.

Simple but fresh

In contrast to city dwellers who might spend most of their time in the kitchen creating elaborate Masterchef-style dishes or seeking comfort in junk food, Elaine's meals are simple but fresh.

And while she does have the luxury of a big garden, Elaine said people who lived in units didn't have to sacrifice the essence of her lifestyle.

"Anyone who doesn't have a garden should get involved in growing sprouts, herbs, or just buying fresh," she said.

"When you're eating fresh vegetables you're eating living energy."

Key nutrients missing

University of Queensland researchers found people living alone were more likely to pass on fruit and vegetables in favour of processed meals lacking key nutrients.

UQ nutrition lecturer Dr Katherine Hanna said the study suggested the reason was a lack of motivation in the kitchen and eating alone.

"The psychological impacts of living alone can also influence diet," Dr Hanna said.

"Previous research has found loneliness, for example, is a significant predictor of malnutrition in the elderly."

In 2010, 23% of all household were solo, making one in four people potentially susceptible to the trend.

Whole food better

But not Elaine, whose understanding of the importance of food came after a life-changing cancer battle 20 years ago.

This prompted her to drop processed meats, tea and coffee, and embrace a sustainable "whole food" lifestyle.

"Chocolate is my biggest weakness," she said.

"Coffee gives me palpitations, and I don't drink (alcohol) much."

She also has a few health tips for staying physically fit, and mentally positive.

"I took up belly dancing at 50," she said. "I did yoga - I've tried many different things.

"I've got a natural high."

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