Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Comparing the various diets, the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets around. Researchers have dug deeper and found a genetic basis as to why this diet is healthy. They found that the diet was associated with longer telomeres, the protective structures at the end of chromosomes in the DNA. Shorter telomeres are associated with age-related chronic diseases and reduced life expectancy.
The study was published in the British Medical Journal. For the study, the researchers used 4676 women from a larger health study and ranked their diets on a scale of 1 to 9 based on the similarity to the ideal Mediterranean diet.
Their telomere lengths were measured with blood tests and the participants were followed for a period of 20 years with periodic examinations. The participants were controlled for body mass index, smoking, physical activity, reproductive history and other factors.
The researchers found that a higher score for adherence to the Mediterranean type of diet was associated with a longer telomere length. The researchers estimated that the difference in telomere length for each point on the adherence scale was equal to an average one and a half years of life.
“Based on our data, a three-point change in the adherence score is equivalent to 4.5 years of aging, a difference comparable to that between smokers and non-smokers,” said the lead author, Marta Crous-Bou. The Mediterranean diet comprises a high proportion of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and olive oil, and lower proportions of dairy products and meat. So, wish to delay aging? It would probably help to adopt some of the qualities of the Mediterranean diet.
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