Mediterranean Diet May Help Slow Aging
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 12:18 PM

A new analysis suggests yet another potential health benefit of the Mediterranean diet. In the Nurses' Health Study, greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with greater telomere length, a biomarker of aging.

"The health benefits of greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet — reduction of overall mortality, increased longevity and reduced incidence of chronic diseases, especially major cardiovascular diseases — have been consistently demonstrated. … Following a diet closer to the Mediterranean diet can prevent accelerated telomere shortening,” the author said.

Telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes that progressively shorten with age. Shorter telomeres are associated with shorter life expectancy and greater risk for age-related diseases. Obesity, cigarette smoking, and other lifestyle factors have been linked to shorter telomere length. Oxidative stress and inflammation speed up telomere shortening.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, unrefined grains, olive oil, and fish, with a moderate amount of alcohol intake and low intake of dairy products, meat, and poultry.

"Fruits, vegetables, olive oil and nuts — key components of the Mediterranean diet — have well known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that could balance out the 'bad effects' of smoking and obesity."

The Mediterranean diet is the "cornerstone of dietary advice in cardiovascular disease prevention, and the fact that it also links with a biomarker of slower ageing is reassuring.”  It "is one of the few evidence-based diets. I could guess that the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress capacity of this diet could contribute to the finding."