A study recently published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) shows that people who are on Mediterranean Diet have healthier DNA code and live about 4.5 years more than people on regular diets, including the Western and Prudent diets.
The Mediterranean diet is a traditional eating pattern of the people living in Greece, Southern Italy and Spain. Mediterranean diet means eating large amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, olive oil and moderate red wine intake. Red meat and processed meat are to be avoided.
According to the new study this mix of vitamins, mono-saturated fats and carbohydrates helps DNA stay young longer and people live longer. So, it seems the Mediterranean diet is an anti-aging diet. The average age gain was 4.5 years, the same gain a non-smoker has over a non-smoker or a highly active person over one less active has.
In the study, more than 4,676 female-nurses were surveyed more than a decade. They were asked questions about their health and dietary habits and their DNA was tested.
Nurses on Mediterranean Diet had healthier DNA, researchers said. It appears that this diet rich in vitamins somehow protects body tissues and cells from stress and other damage factors.
The researchers don not know the key ingredients that make this diet so effective, but they said the diet in itself is healthier than diets based on plenty of red meat, butter and other animal fats. Plus, the Mediterranean is already renowned for its health benefits on human heart.
After analyzing the nurses’ DNA, researchers noticed that those closely following the Mediterranean diet had longer telomeres at the end of their chromosomes than those on a regular diet. Longer telomeres are linked to a younger DNA code – as people age these telomeres become shorter.
In a previous research, scientists found longer telomeres in nonsmoking and younger women. So, they drew the conclusion that women analyzed during the recent study had longer telomeres although they weren’t young anymore due to their Mediterranean diet. The findings were adjusted for factors that may influence telomeres’ size, such as age, body mass index (BMI), physical exercise, hypertension, smoking and hormone therapies.
“To our knowledge, this is the largest population-based study specifically addressing the association between Mediterranean diet adherence and telomere length in healthy, middle-aged women. Our results further support the benefits of adherence to the Mediterranean diet for promoting health and longevity,”
the authors of the study said.
Short telomeres are also associated with heart disease and many types of cancer.
Shorter telomeres have been linked with a broad range of age-related diseases, including heart disease, and a variety of cancers. However, other medical experts are skeptic saying that observational studies often produced “misleading estimates” and the link between Mediterranean diet and telomere length could not be “necessarily causal”.