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Study: Mediterranean Diet Offers Health Benefits For Those 65+

While many know the Mediterranean diet provides health benefits that include assisting the brain, heart, bones, as well as longevity, new research has surfaced that reveals the eating lifestyle can help those who are 65 years and older, too.

The diet revolves around plant-based foods, with minor amounts of chicken and lean meat, and hearty servings of fruits, veggies, legumes, olive oil, unrefined grains, as well as fish.
While it’s always been known for benefiting younger adults when it comes to mortality and a prolonged life, following the Mediterranean diet was recently linked to a 25% lower chance of all-cause mortality, within a pool of older adults in a region of Italy known as Molise, as per the recent study. As the study author, Marialaura Bonaccio, states, the research dove into a dose-response relationship within the diet and risk around mortality, meaning, those that had increased adherence to the diet reaped better benefits.

CNN reported that while the research didn’t dive into how or why exactly the diet is linked to increased mortality, one can only see that as the Mediterranean diet has an abundance of anti-inflammatory foods within, this may play a positive role in it all.

For this study, the team reviewed the diets and health of 5,200 individuals 65 years and up. The individuals enrolled within the research from 2005-2010 were followed up until the end of 2015. The food intake was also assessed the year prior to when participants were enrolled through a food frequency questionnaire simply called, EPIC.

The way the team measured each individual’s adherence levels, was by giving them a point for consuming a food group within the Mediterranean diet (i.e. nuts and fruits, veggies, fish, legumes, etc.)

The study team discovered that an increase of one point from a person’s diet score was linked with a decreased risk of death from all causes, and specifically from coronary artery disease.
As per the research team, upon an eight-year follow up, there were 900 deaths among the group.

The team also analyzed what was already known about the diet via a meta-analysis on six past published research studies. Through the current results of their own study and the meta-analysis, the team discovered a single-point increase to adherence of the diet was connected to a five percent decreased risk of death around all causes.

It’s important to note the study’s limitation, as it was observational research and only discovered the link between longevity and the diet, not the cause of why this is happening. Another thing to note was that individuals participating in the study were self-reporting. Lastly, the meta-analysis used were only a small pooling of studies.

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