Following a Mediterranean diet may be correlated with slowed aging, according to an article series published in The Journals of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.

The Mediterranean diet is characterized by minimally processed whole grains and legumes, fresh vegetables and fruits, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, fish, low amounts of dairy, red/processed meats, and wine. 

In the series, study authors describe the underlying mechanisms of the diet and the positive association between the diet and physical and cognitive function. They discuss the benefit of taking a coenzyme Q10 supplement while following the Mediterranean diet and how the diet can aid in reducing inflammation. 

Some of the studies, however, point out that the extent of the benefits were based on how diet adherence was measured. One study by University of Paris researchers found that higher scores on the Literature-based Adherence Score to the Mediterranean Diet were associated with higher odds of meeting certain healthy aging criteria. The Mediterranean Diet Score yielded similar results but use of this index demonstrated a weaker correlation.  

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Another study led by researchers at the Autonomous University of Madrid, showed that closer adherence to the Mediterranean diet was tied to a lower risk of physical function impairment in older adults; the results were more significant using the Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener compared with the Mediterranean Diet Score.

In general, researchers highlight 5 key adaptations seen with adhering to the Mediterranean diet pattern:

  • 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
  • Gut microbiota-mediated production of metabolites

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