Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 8th 2014 Contents Eating a Mediterranean diet may
be your key to living longer. That s
according to a new study led by
Immaculata De Vivo, associate pro-
fessor at Brigham and Women s Hos-
pital in Boston and Harvard Medical
The diet involves eating items off
a menu that is rich in vegetables, fruits,
nuts, beans and peas, unrefined grains,
olive oil and fish. It keeps dairy, meat
and saturated fats to a minimum. And
you can have a glass of red wine with
dinner without cheating.
The diet has been consistently linked
with health benefits that includes
helping you manage your weight, and
it can lower your risk for chronic issues
such as cardiovascular disease.
This new research looks at data from
4,676 healthy middle-aged women
involved in the Nurses Health Study,
an ongoing study tracking the health
of more than 120,000 US nurses since
It found women who ate a Mediter-
ranean diet had longer telomeres.
Telomeres are part of your chro-
mosomes, the thread-like structures
that house your DNA. At the end of
these chromosomes are telomeres, a
kind of protective "cap" that keeps
the structure from unravelling. It
thereby protects your genetic infor-
Even in healthy people, telomeres
shorten with age. Shorter telomeres
are associated with aging, lower life
expectancy and age-related diseases
such as artherosclerosis, certain can-
cers and liver disease.
Scientists have noticed some lifestyle
choices such as smoking, being over-
weight or obese and drinking a lot of
sugar sweetened drinks can prema-
turely shorten a person s telomeres.
Scientists believe oxidative stress
and inflammation can also shorten
Fruits, vegetables, olive oils and
nuts---the key components of a
Mediterranean diet---have well-known
antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
effects. The team of US researchers
led by De Vivo therefore wanted to
see whether the women who stuck
with this diet had longer telomeres.
"This is the largest population-
based study addressing the association
between Mediterranean diet adherence
and telomere length in healthy, middle
aged women," they write. The study
included completed detailed food
questionnaires and blood tests to
measure telomere length.
Each participant had a calculated
diet score ranging from zero to nine
points; a higher score signifies a closer
resemblance to the Mediterranean diet.
Each one point change in diet score
corresponded an average of 1.5 years
of telomere aging.
Telomere shortening is irreversible
but healthy "lifestyle choices can help
prevent accelerated shortening," says
Helps people live longer,
get fewer chronic diseases
This study s results provide "some
insight into the underlying physiologic
mechanism behind this association,"
indicating that greater adherence to
this diet is significantly associated
with longer telomeres, she says.
Because of the antioxidant and anti-
inflammatory effects of the Mediter-
ranean diet, following this diet "could
balance out the bad effects of smok-
ing and obesity," De Vivo says.
These findings further support "the
health benefits of greater adherence
to the Mediterranean diet for reduction
of overall mortality, increased longevity
and reduced incidence of chronic dis-
eases, especially major cardiovascular
None of the individual dietary com-
ponents was associated with telomere
length. Researchers suggest that means
the whole diet is an important ele-
ment, rather than one item being a
kind of superfood.
Dr Peter Nilsson, a professor of
Clinical Cardiovascular Research at
Lund University in Sweden, who wrote
an accompanying editorial, suggests
that the variation in telomere length
and dietary patterns may also be
because of genetic background fac-
While promising, Nilsson believes
that future studies "should take into
account the possibility of interactions
between genes, diet and sex."
With these results, De Vivo and her
research team hope in the future to
figure out which components of the
Mediterranean diet may be having a
bigger impact on telomere length.
Next they also hope to study the
same thing in men. (CNN)
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, December 8, 2014
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North-Central Regional Health Authority
Building # 39, Third Floor
Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex
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Mediterranean diet may lead to longer life
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Fruits, vegetables, olive oils and nuts---
the key components of a Mediterranean
diet---have well-known antioxidant and
This study's results provide "some insight into
the underlying physiologic mechanism behind
this association," indicating that greater
adherence to this diet is significantly associated
with longer telomeres, she says. Because of the
antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the
Mediterranean diet, following this diet "could
balance out the 'bad effects' of smoking and
obesity." ---DE VIVO
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