Mediterranean ageing

What could be nicer than a meal of freshly cooked Garden vegetables, a salad drizzled in olive oil, some lightly cooked fish, a glass of wine and the company of family and friends? This is the magic that is the “Mediterranean Diet” and not only is it pleasurable it is good for you. Studies have linked a Mediterranean style of eating with a reduced incidence of chronic diseases and now a new study has even shown that it slows down the rate at which you are ageing.

The study focussed on the effect of the Mediterranean diet on telomeres, pieces of genetic material that sit at the end of chromosomes and stop your DNA unravelling or clumping. Effectively, telomeres protect your genetic code and shorter telomeres indicate more rapid ageing. Telomere length halves during the period from infancy to adulthood and then halve again during the onset of old age. Shorter telomeres have been linked to a reduced life expectancy and increased rate of chronic diseases. So these researchers wanted to see if a Mediterranean way of eating may be impacting telomeres.

To study this they looked at more than 4,500 people who completed detailed food questionnaires. From this the researchers established how close each person was to a Mediterranean way of eating by ranking them on a scale from 0 to 9 points. They then measured telomere length and looked for any correlation.

It is no surprise, or else we would not be here gathered about this article, that the higher the score for adherence to a Mediterranean style of eating, the longer the telomere length. In fact, a one point change in adherence to the diet on the scale corresponded to 1.5 years of telomere ageing. That means that some who scores 2 has aged nine years more at a cellular level than someone who scores 8.

No wonder those Mediterranean civilisations have been around such a long time.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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