Mediterranean diet and ageing process

To live a happy, healthy and long life we might want to add vegetables, fruits and fish to our diet. Here`s why.

A Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, France, Greece and Spain.

Mediterranean cuisine varies by region and has a range of definitions, but is largely based on vegetables, pulses, fruit, cereal, fish and monounsaturated fatty acids such as olive oil. It also includes small amounts of meat, poultry, dairy products and saturated fatty acids, plus mild to moderate alcohol consumption.

The effects of this diet on health have long been studied. For example, A 2013 study found that people following a Mediterranean diet had a 30% lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Also, a 2015 study showed that eating at least 3 to 5 ounces of fish weekly, or eating no more than 3.5 ounces of meat daily, may provide considerable protection against loss of brain cells.

However, a new study has given a major step. At a recent conference in Brussels, researchers presented that a NU-AGE Mediterranean style diet significantly decreased the levels of C-reactive protein, which is one of the main inflammatory markers linked with the ageing process. Another positive effect of this diet was that the rate of bone loss in people with osteoporosis was reduced.

To assess if a Mediterranean diet can slow down the ageing process, researchers conducted the study in five European countries: France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the UK and involved 1,296 participants. They took into account differences between men and women as well as among participants coming from the different countries. Volunteers from five countries differed in genetics, body composition, compliance to the study, response to diet, blood measurements, cytomegalovirus positivity and inflammatory parameters. Researchers also looked at socio-economic factors of food choices and health information as well as the most significant barriers to the improvement of the quality of a diet.

“This is the first project that goes in such depths into the effects of the Mediterranean diet on health of elderly population. We are using the most powerful and advanced techniques including metabolomics, transcriptomics, genomics and the analysis of the gut microbiota to understand what effect, the Mediterranean style diet has on the population of over 65 years old” said prof. Claudio Franceschi, project coordinator from the University of Bologna, Italy.

Finally, another positive effect of this diet was that the rate of bone loss in people with osteoporosis was reduced. Other parameters such as insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular health, digestive health and quality of life are yet to be analyzed.

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