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Articles - A Healthy Diet:

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Live longer with a Mediterranean diet?

A US study has found that a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fresh fish and olive oil could slow the aging process. As part of the Nurses' Health study, this study recorded health data on almost 4,700 nurses, aged between 42 and 70, for a decade.


Based on blood tests, the scientists examined the hereditary genetic information of the participants. The study focussed on telomeres, sections of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes, which gradually shorten as part of the aging process, write scientists in the British Medical Journal.

The study and its parameters

The women answered detailed questionnaires about their lifestyle and dietary habits. The extent to which their diet corresponded to a Mediterranean diet was measured on a scale of zero to nine. A Mediterranean diet includes eating a lot of fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains. Olive oil is the main source of fat, and red meat is replaced with fish and chicken. A glass of red wine is also drunk regularly with meals.

The results at a glance

The study showed that women who ate a mainly Mediterranean diet (scale greater than / equal to six), had longer telomeres than those with a different diet (scale less than / equal to two). The positive effect was independent of other factors such as body weight, smoking, physical activity and daily calorie intake. These results indicate that the genetic aging process can be slowed by a healthy Mediterranean diet. Every additional point on the diet scale was associated with a difference in length in the telomeres, which corresponded to about one and a half years of biological aging.

More studies are needed

The exact relationships is to be explored in further studies in order to provide concrete dietary advice. Fruits, vegetables and legumes have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and could thus protect the telomeres. This study, however, did not look at the relationship between specific foods and a slower aging process.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de