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Dr. Mark Stengler | Naturopathic Doctor  >  Articles   >  Mediterranean Diet Fights Aging

Mediterranean Diet Fights Aging

Scientists commonly use telomeres to measure a person’s biological age (as opposed to their chronological age). Telomeres protectively wrap around the tips of our chromosomes, which store the genetic information in each and every one of our cells.

The Mediterranean diet is associated with longer telomeres, a sign of youth and slower aging. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School studied 4,676 nurses, who completed dietary questionnaires and had laboratory tests to measure the telomere length in chromosomes obtained from their white blood cells.

Using a nine-point scale to reflect more or less adherence to the Mediterranean diet, the researchers calculated that each point on the scale correlated with 1.5 years of faster or slower telomere aging. Women who most consistently ate a Mediterranean diet earned nine points, and they had telomeres equivalent to 13.5-years younger than women who did not eat a Mediterranean diet at all.

A similar study, by Italian doctors, reported that people who consistently ate a Mediterranean diet had longer telomeres and higher telomerase activity. Telomerase is the enzyme that lengthens telomeres.

The Mediterranean diet includes eating fish instead of red meat, a high intake of vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and modest amounts of pasta and grains. As well it commonly contains a lot of antioxidant- and nutrient-rich herbal seasonings, including oregano, rosemary, cinnamon, and garlic. They also used vinegar in their cooking, sometimes to marinate fish, chicken, or lamb. Small amounts of red wine are common but I consider this a personal choice.

VIDEO: MEDITERRANEAN DIET AND DIABETES

 
People who follow the Mediterranean Diet have half the risk of diabetes as those on a low-fat diet. This comes from a study over four years following the incidents of onset diabetes among non-diabetics already at high cardiovascular risk.

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