The Mediterranean diet was developed in Western Europe along the borders of the Mediterranean Sea. Some of the countries that border the Mediterranean include, Greece, Italy, Spain, the south of France, and parts of North Africa. The diet differs in each country, but there are common characteristics. Traditionally and in modern day, the diet consists of olive oils, feta and mozzarella cheeses, fish, poultry, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Fat intake in the diet comes from high unsaturated fats in fish, nuts, and avocados that produce Omega 3 fatty acids, which help protect against cancer, heart disease, and blood clotting.
Unlike unsaturated fat, saturated fat from processed meats, when taken in abundance, increase the risk of health diseases. Red meats and poultry that are fried, broiled, grilled, or smoked and eaten excessively have lipids that clog arteries. These processed meats also introduce carcinogens to the digestive system that can overwhelm the system’s detoxifying mechanisms, particularly the mechanisms in the liver. When this happens, the risk of cancer increases.
The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are thanks to varied, nutritionally dense food combinations, and a high moderation, and even exclusion, of red meats and saturated fatty foods. The mixing of green leafy vegetables and olive oil and the processing of fish and nuts provide crucial vitamins and minerals. Some of which are magnesium and phosphorous that are good for building protein; Vitamin A, which improves vision, assists in bone and tooth growth, and regulates gene expression, reproduction and immunity; and Vitamin E, which has antioxidants that protect cell membranes from harm and prevent oxidation.
How Can This Diet Stop Aging?
These benefits can increase a consumer’s life expectancy. Even further, recent studies show that they can potentially decrease aging by protecting DNA. The anti-aging effect is thanks to telomeres. Telomeres are caps at the ends of DNA chromosomes. Throughout cell division, these caps prevent genetic information loss. As our bodies age, telomeres get weaker.
Geneticist Richard Cawthon of the University of Utah, along with other scientists and researchers, conducted research on telomeres. His studies found that when people have long telomeres, they live an average of five years longer than those with shorter telomeres. This study suggests that if telomeres are strengthened, than life expectancy can increase by 5 years.
A study documented in the British Medical Journal suggests that the Mediterranean Diet can help sustain the length of telomeres, thus preventing telomere erosion. Medical researchers followed the health of approximately 5,000 nurses over a decade. The nurses who followed the diet had fewer signs of ageing, and longer, healthier telomeres, than those who did not.
These findings are strictly observational and need more medical scrutiny to have complete satisfactory conclusions. In any case, the Mediterranean diet is a leading cause of increased health in old age.