Eating This After 65 Can Add Years to Your Life, New Study Says
Research shows that focusing your diet this way can reduce your risk of death.
The old saying goes that the way to a person's heart is through their stomach. But when it comes to maintaining your health, mounting evidence has shown that can be quite literal, with a well-balanced diet potentially benefiting your brain, as well as your cardiovascular system. Now, a new study has found that eating certain foods in your senior years could help you live longer overall. Read on to see what you might want to start working into your diet.
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A new study probed the connection between the Mediterranean diet and longevity.
In a study published on Nov. 24 in the journal BCM Medicine, researchers from the University of Barcelona considered 642 people over the age of 65 taken from the InCHIANTI project conducted in the Tuscany region of Italy. For two decades, the team collected blood and urine samples from participants and monitored their dietary habits by administering food questionnaires. The researchers focused on specific dietary biomarkers, including total polyphenols and resveratrol metabolites—which is a byproduct of grape intake—and plasma carotenoids, selenium, vitamin B12, fatty acids, and the level of monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids for each person.
"We develop an index of dietary biomarkers based on food groups that are part of the Mediterranean diet, and we assess their association with mortality," Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, PhD, one of the study's authors and head of the CIBER on Fragility and Healthy Ageing (CIBERFES) research group, said in a statement. The diet—which consists mainly of oily fish, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and healthy fats such as olive oil—has long been associated with an array of health benefits.
The study found that adopting a Mediterranean diet can add years to your life.
Over the 20 year monitoring period, 425 participants died, including 139 from heart disease and 89 from cancer-related causes. Analysis of data found that participants who stuck more to the Mediterranean diet were likely to live longer.
"An adherence to the Mediterranean diet assessed by a panel of dietary biomarkers is inversely associated with the long-term mortality in older adults, which supports the use of these biomarkers in monitoring evaluations to study the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet," Tomás Meroño, PhD, the study's lead author, said in a press release.
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Experts cite mounting research that the Mediterranean diet can promote "longer, healthier lives."
According to experts, there's a growing body of evidence that the eating style can help add years to your life. Sue Ryskamp, RD, of the Michigan Medicine Frankel Cardiovascular Center who was not involved in the University of Barcelona study, told Michigan Health that the Mediterranean way of eating is not a diet but instead a "meal style" that could be relatively flexible.
"It's based on the traditional eating habits of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, where studies have shown these populations tend to live longer, healthier lives," Ryskamp explained. "This can be seen especially in comparison to the Standard American Diet, becoming increasingly known as 'SAD,' which consists of a high intake of red meat, grains, dairy products, processed, pre-packaged, and fried foods."
Other research has found that the dietary style can also boost brain health.
Besides increasing longevity, other recent research has provided more evidence to the potential health benefits of the eating style. This includes a study from the American Academy of Neurology, published in the journal Neurology on May 5, which showed that a Mediterranean diet could also improve your cognitive health.
After comparing 343 people with a high risk of developing Alzheimer's to 169 people who weren't predisposed to the disease, results found that a Mediterranean-like diet is a "protective factor against memory decline."
"Our study suggests that eating a diet that's high in unsaturated fats, fish, fruits, and vegetables, and low in dairy and red meat may actually protect your brain from the protein build-up that can lead to memory loss and dementia," study author Tommaso Ballarini, PhD, of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), said in a statement. "These results add to the body of evidence that show what you eat may influence your memory skills later on."
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