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Mediterranean diet in later life can postpone death

Tuesday 4th September 2018
A new study has linked adherence to the Mediterranean diet in old age with greater longevity.
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People who want to live to a ripe old age will enhance their chances of doing so by switching to a Mediterranean diet in later life, researchers have stated.

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition studied the diet and health of 5,200 people from the Molise region of Italy. They were recruited for a larger study between 2005 and 2010 and followed up in 2015. During this period, 900 of the group died.

Participants were marked for adherence levels to the Mediterranean diet, on a scale of 0-9.

The research found that those who stuck more closely to the Mediterranean diet were also more likely to exercise, but when all factors were taken into account - including sex, age, smoking, body mass index and socioeconomic status - it became clear that those who had a high level of adherence to the diet (7-9) had a 25 per cent lower risk of death by any cause than those scoring 0-3.

Indeed, for each point increase in adherence, the death risk dropped by six per cent.

First author of the study Marialaura Bonaccio, an epidemiologist at the Mediterranean Neurological Institute IRCCS Neuromed, said: "Because we are facing an ageing process all over the world, in particular in Europe, it is particularly important to see which kinds of tools we have today to face this ageing process.

"We all know that [the] Mediterranean diet is good for health, but there are few studies focusing on the elderly," she added. 

More studies will be needed to establish the exact benefits of the diet. While there were signs of some reduction in coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular mortality, there was no specific sign of a link with a fall in deaths from causes such as heart disease or cancer. 

However, it is far from being the first time that a scientific study has indicated that the Mediterranean diet has major health benefits. 

A study published by Columbia University in the US in 2015 indicated that keeping to the diet may help slow down the process of brain shrinkage and ageing, thus reducing instances of dementia.

Written by Martin Lambert

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