Six new articles published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences found that a Mediterranean diet may slow aging.
The articles reported on elements of the diet including the positive relationship between the diet and physical and cognitive function, the value of taking a coenzyme Q10 supplement while sticking to the diet, and the role of the diet in reducing inflammation.
"Greater clarity on how this diet is defined, in both interventions and observational studies, will be critical in the aim of achieving a consensus on how to optimally apply this dietary pattern towards maximizing healthy aging," the authors wrote.
The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a large variety of vegetables consumed every day, fresh fruits eaten as desert, minimally processed whole grains and legumes as the staple food, and cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds as the principal source of fat. The diet also stresses moderate consumption of fish along with dairy products consumed in low amounts, and a very low consumption of red and processed meat.
One of the studies published in the journal, which was conducted at the University of Paris, found that subjects who adhered the closest to the Mediterranean diet had higher odds of meeting healthy aging criteria. In another study by researchers at the Autonomous University of Madrid, closer adherence to the diet was associated with a lower likelihood of physical function impairment in older adults.
In one of the new articles, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis state there is accumulating evidence of five important changes induced by closely following a Mediterranean diet. These include lowering of lipids; protection from oxidative stress and inflammation; modification of growth factors that can promote cancer; inhibition of nutrient sensing pathways by amino acid restriction, and gut microbiota-mediated production of metabolites.
The recent series of articles back up previous studies. A 2017 study from the University of Edinburgh found that a Mediterranean diet keeps brains from shrinking in old age. Researchers studied the eating habits of healthy seniors around age 70 who were given MRIs to measure brain volume at age 73, and again at age 76. Those who closely followed a Mediterranean diet had half the brain loss of those who didn't follow the diet.
And a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that older people who follow a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of becoming frail, and those who followed the diet the closest over a four-year period were less than half as likely to become frail as those who followed it the least.
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