A recent European study suggest that adopting what is popularly known as the “Mediterranean Diet” could potentially help people live longer, healthier lives. Although it does not have a specific set of dietary requirements, the Mediterranean Diet is typically considered to be one made up of fish, nuts, fresh vegetables, olive oil and fruit – all popular culinary items in Italy and surrounding regions.
According to the study, conducted in Italy and published in the British Journal of Nutrition, those surveyed with a higher adherence to the Mediterranean Diet had a 25 percent lower risk of death compared to those who had a lower adherence. The study also concludes that even a modest increase in adhering to the diet could yield as much as a 6 percent decrease in risk of death from any cause. Those calculations were based on the participant’s age, sex, activity levels, socioeconomic status, smoking and body mass index (BMI).
A total of 5,200 individuals aged 65 or older from the Molise region in Italy were followed as part of the study and were recruited as part of a larger study between 2005 and 2010, and followed up until 2015. Those participants were given a questionnaire asking about their diet in the year leading up to the study and each was given a score of 0 to 9 based on how closely the person followed the Mediterranean Diet. Participants who scored from 7 to 9 saw the greatest benefits compared to those who scored 0 to 3.
The study is important because it sheds light on the types of lifestyle changes we can adopt as we age to help ensure we live longer, healthier, and hopefully happier lives. Although the study does not prove the Mediterranean Diet is the absolute reason why the participants lived longer and had reduced risk of death, it does show a link between adopting healthier habits and improving one’s well being.
Of course, it is never too late to start making changes to our diets and increasing our physical activity and doing so earlier on in life can help stave off certain chronic health conditions that can have tremendously negative impacts later on. What seem like small changes now can add up to a world of difference later on as we age and try to maintain the health and mobility we were accustomed to as younger people.