How can older people prolong life? Switch to a Mediterranean diet, study suggests

A new study suggests that switching to a Mediterranean diet in the later years can prolong your lifespan.


A new study suggests that switching to a Mediterranean diet in your later years can prolong your lifespan.

The Mediterranean diet includes many dishes, but it’s generally inspired by foods that were common in Greece, Southern Italy and Spain during the 1940s and 1950s. It includes high consumption of olive oil, vegetables, nuts and fruits; moderate amounts of fish, wine and dairy products; and low consumption of non-fish meat.

“We all know that [the] Mediterranean diet is good for health, but there are few studies focusing on the elderly,” Marialaura Bonaccio, an epidemiologist at the Mediterranean Neurological Institute, IRCCS Neuromed, and first author of the study, told The Guardian.

The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, analyzed a group of 5,200 individuals aged 65 and over from the Molise region of Southern Italy, all of whom had participated in an earlier study that tracked their health and diet from as early as 2005 up to 2015.

Before that study began, each participant completed a questionnaire measuring how closely they stuck to a Mediterranean diet based on a 0 to 9 scale.


Source: Oldways

The results showed that participants who closely adhered to a Mediterranean diet (scoring 7 to 9 on the scale) were 25 percent less likely to die from any cause compared to those who didn’t stick to the diet (scoring 0 to 3).

The study doesn’t necessarily prove a causal link between longer lifespan and the Mediterranean diet. Also, those who stuck to the diet were also more likely to pursue exercise and physical activity.

Still, the researchers noted that general risk of death seems to drop by about 5 percent for each point gained on the Mediterranean diet scale. What’s more, some past research has shown associations between the Mediterranean diet and a lower risk of cancer, and particularly with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

As an unprecedented amount of people worldwide begin to enter old age, Bonaccio said it’s important that scientists investigate all the available tools that might smoothen the aging process.

“If you start a good healthy lifestyle when you are young, probably your benefit will be even greater,” Bonaccio told The Guardian. “But even if you are old and you start having a healthy lifestyle including diet you can [live longer].”

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

In a first for humankind, China successfully sprouts a seed on the Moon

China's Chang'e 4 biosphere experiment marks a first for humankind.

Image source: CNSA
Surprising Science
  • China's Chang'e 4 lunar lander touched down on the far side of the moon on January 3.
  • In addition to a lunar rover, the lander carried a biosphere experiment that contains five sets of plants and some insects.
  • The experiment is designed to test how astronauts might someday grow plants in space to sustain long-term settlements.
Keep reading Show less

10 science photos that made history and changed minds

These photos of scientific heroes and accomplishments inspire awe and curiosity.

Surprising Science
  • Science has given humanity an incalculable boost over the recent centuries, changing our lives in ways both awe-inspiring and humbling.
  • Fortunately, photography, a scientific feat in and of itself, has recorded some of the most important events, people and discoveries in science, allowing us unprecedented insight and expanding our view of the world.
  • Here are some of the most important scientific photos of history:
Keep reading Show less

Love in a time of migrants: on rethinking arranged marriages

Arranged marriages and Western romantic practices have more in common than we might think.

Culture & Religion

In his book In Praise of Love (2009), the French communist philosopher Alain Badiou attacks the notion of 'risk-free love', which he sees written in the commercial language of dating services that promise their customers 'love, without falling in love'.

Keep reading Show less