A recent study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital associate professory Immaculata De Vivo suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet could be the beneficial in prolonging your life. While history has already shown the diet to be good for lowering your weight and your risk for cardiovascular disease, this new information boosts the idea of increased lifespan.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is high in fruits, vegetables, peas, beans, nuts, and unrefined grains. It also has fish and olive oil. Meat, dairy and saturated fats are kept as low as possible. Red wine is allowed with a dinner meal. Many Mediterranean diet meals are seasoned well and provide delicious meat-free alternatives to be incorporated into any family setting.
Fruits and Dried Fruits
(apples, bananas, berries, figs, oranges, peaches, plums, pomegranate, strawberries)
(acorn squash, alfalfa sprouts, arugula, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, cucumber, eggplant, endive, fennel, garlic, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, romaine, shallots, spinach, Swiss chard, tomatoes, turnips, zucchini)
( barley, oats, quinoa, rice, wild rice, cornmeal, polenta, whole wheat pasta and noodles, whole wheat pitas, tortillas, and breads)
(fava beans, chickpeas, lima beans, white beans)
Nuts, Nut Butters, Seeds
(Olive oil, peanut oil)
Herbs and spices
Fish, Shellfish (not recommended), Seafood
( anchovies, cod, flounder, halibut, salmon, sea bass, tuna, shrimp, clams)
Shellfish e.g. clams, mussels, shrimp
Further Insight Into the Study
The study took data from women from the Nurses’ Health Study, 4,676 of them, and looking at their diets. The women who ate a Mediterranean diet were shown to have longer telomeres, which are thread-like parts of the chromosomes that protect the strand. Telomeres help protect the genetic components of DNA. Over time, people’s telomeres shorten. As they shorten, there is a higher chance of age-related disease and a lower life expectancy. Keeping telomeres longer and reducing the rate at which they shorten, could be the key to advancing life expectancy.
Risk Factors for Telomere Shortening
Sugar-high food and drinks
Eating antioxidant rich foods such as those on the Mediterranean Diet can help reduce inflammation and tress on the body.
The study took the women and had them do blood testing and food diaries to address the link between telomere length and the Mediterranean Diet. They calculated a diet score between 0 and 9, with 0 being a diet that did not relate to the Mediterranean Diet and 9 being strictly the diet. With each single point, there was an average of 1.5 years of telomere aging. While you can’t regrow telomere length, you can stop its progression. Another finding was that not a single food item was a superfood, rather the whole diet was the important factor in telomere length.
The study will be expanded to include men to see if the findings hold true in male populations as well.