Benefits of following a Mediterranean diet include healthy aging outcomes, according to a new series of articles in the March issue of The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. The findings of the study correlated the relationship between adherence to the diet with improved cognitive function, reduction of inflammation, and favorable physical performance.
The exact mechanism of how the diet promotes healthier aging and as well as preservation of cognitive function is not quite known; however, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis Washington note the following effects on the body:
- lowered cholesterol
- protection from oxidative stress and inflammation
- modification of growth factors that can promote cancer
- optimized nutrition pathways
- affected gut microbiota
Those who study what the Mediterranean diet may seek greater understanding in its definition and how it is measured, so as to gain knowledge as to the best way to conduct and apply research in the future. “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,” states Michelle A. Mendez, PhD, the in Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences in an opening editorial. As suggested, many researchers who study this diet a may ask “How does one measure adherence to a Mediterranean diet?” More work needs to be done to describe and correlate scoring criteria.
Those who want to incorporate the diet into their lifestyle may ask the same as well as questions such as, “Does a Mediterranean diet mean eating a certain nationality of food?” and “How do I approach this diet?” Following a Mediterranean lifestyle does not come with a black and white set of rules or recipes, as some “all or none” diets do with rigid structure. There is a subjective component of what the diet means, which actually make the diet flexible, forgiving and adaptable. Following the Mediterranean diet should not be complicated. Simply stated, general approaches to the diet include:
- front-loading meals and snacks with fruits and vegetable, up to 5-6 servings per day
- including staples of minimally processed whole grains and legumes
- consuming fat as extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, minimizing saturated fats, trans and animal fats
- avoiding or minimizing red meat and processed meat
- including seafood as protein source
- consumption of wine with meals in low to moderate quantities
These general guidelines help lead to the conclusion that home-cooking is a helpful way to know exactly what one is eating and how are dishes are prepared. But importantly, these guidelines can help guide us to make the best food choices not only in the home, but in the the supermarket, office and out to eat, as well.
The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 73, Issue 3, 2 March 2018, Pages 315–354, https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/gly003.