In the March issue of The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences a series of six articles find new associations between the Mediterranean diet and healthy aging and also emphasizes the need for careful approaches to the use of data in order to measure the diet’s potential benefits.
The findings among the new articles report fundamental components of the diet; the positive association between the diet and physical and cognitive function; the value of taking a coenzyme Q10 supplement while adhering to the diet; and the role of the diet in reducing inflammation. But in several of the studies, the level of benefit was dependent on how adherence to the diet was measured.
“Greater clarity on how this diet is defined, in both interventions and observational studies, will be critical in the aim of achieving a consensus on how to optimally apply this dietary pattern towards maximizing healthy aging,” state Michelle A. Mendez, PhD, and Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences Editor-in-Chief Anne B. Newman, MD, FGSA, in an opening editorial.
The Mediterranean diet features include a variety of minimally processed whole grains and legumes as the staple food; plenty of a huge variety of vegetables eaten daily; fresh fruits as the typical daily dessert, and seeds as the main source of fat; moderate consumption of fish; consumption of dairy products in low amounts; red and processed meat in very low frequency and amounts; and wine consumption with meals in very low to moderate amounts.
There are a number of scales used to measure adherence to the diet. One of the studies conducted by researchers at the University of Paris 13 found that among test subjects, higher numbers on the Literature-based Adherence Score to the Mediterranean Diet were associated with higher odds of meeting certain healthy aging criteria. Similar results were found with another index, the Mediterranean Diet Score; however, use of the Mediterranean Diet Scale yielded a weaker correlation. A study from researchers at Autonomous University of Madrid had fond close adherence to the Mediterranean diet was linked to a lower likelihood of physical function impairment in older adults, although in this case using the Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener provided more significant results than the Mediterranean Diet Score.
The exact mechanism by which an increased adherence to the diet exerts its favorable effects is still unknown to scientists. However, in a new article by researchers from Washing University in St. Louis state there is accumulating evidence of five important adaptations induced by the Mediterranean dietary pattern. These include lipid lowering; protection from oxidative stress and inflammation; modification of growth factors that can promote cancer; inhibition of nutrient sensing pathways by amino acid restriction and gut microbiota-mediated production of metabolites.
Courtesy: The Gerontological Society of America