Thoughts on Better Aging

Why the Mediterranean Diet Works

October 17th, 2015

New research suggests the Mediterranean diet promotes healthy aging by protecting telomeres from damage.

Eating a Mediterranean diet has long been lauded as an excellent way to support healthy aging and increase your longevity. However, scientists have struggled to pinpoint exactly why the diet works. Is it simply that the diet helps us to avoid risk factors for an early demise, such as obesity, heart disease, and stroke? Or is there something else going on?

Now, a recently published study helps to answer these questions.

Drawing on data from two large studies of middle aged women, the new research shows that a Mediterranean diet results in longer telomeres.

The Link Between Telomeres and Aging

Telomeres are found in your chromosomes. They form a sort of protective cap at the end of the strand which protects your DNA from damage.

Everyone’s telomeres will shorten to some degree over time. But the rate at which they shorten has a definite impact on the rate at which you age and your life expectancy. The shorter your telomeres are, the more at risk you are for age related diseases, including heart disease, liver disease, and certain cancers.

How the Mediterranean Diet Protects Telomeres

Scientists have noticed several issues that are associated with premature shortening of telomeres:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High sugar consumption
  • Oxidative stress
  • Inflammation

With the exception of smoking, eating a Mediterranean diet prevents exposure to all of these issues. The diet mainly consists of fruits, vegetables, olive oils, nuts, beans, and unrefined grains, with a bit of fish and red wine thrown in. In other words, it is a low sugar diet that promotes a healthy weight and is also packed with antioxidants.

In the recent study, researchers used blood tests and food questionnaires to show that the more closely women complied with the Mediterranean diet, the more protection their telomeres received. Each study participant’s diet score was calculated based on the questionnaire, with higher scores corresponding to closer adherence to the Mediterranean diet. For each point that the score dropped, the telomeres showed an average of 1.5 years of aging.

Should You Adopt a Mediterranean Diet?

So far, researchers have been unable to show that any one dietary component can be used to protect telomeres. Instead, it appears that the entire diet must be adopted.

Although telomere shortening cannot be reversed, you can slow down the process by taking steps now to protect your telomeres. If you would like more advice on healthy eating for longevity, as well as information about Renew Woman™ products and services that help to support your heath and quality of life as you age, please contact us now.

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