More research says that following a diet rich in fresh fruit, vegetables and fish might preserve a more youthful brain
There's not many wonders that haven't been ascribed to the Mediterranean diet. Listen to enough people and you'll hear that it's the secret of eternal youth, does wonders for your looks and can even up your intelligence.
And now we're told it can slow the ageing process by as much as five years.
According to research from Columbia University in New York, the total brain volume of those who had followed a Mediterranean-style diet (lots of olive oil, wild fish, nuts, fresh fruit and veg, with little diary, fried or processed food) was on average 13.11 millilitres greater than that of those who had not done so.
The study was conducted on 674 people with an average age of 80 who lived in northern Manhattan.
This backs up previous findings published in the British Medical Journal, which shows that a diet rich in fresh fruit and veg, olive oil and fish – and also, we notice, "a regular but moderate intake of alcohol (specifically wine with meals)" – may keep people "genetically young".
In this study, the health of nearly 5,000 middle-aged nurses was monitored for more than a decade and the impact the diet had on a component of DNA called telomeres was analysed.
The Harvard-based researchers found that those who followed the diet showed fewer signs of ageing in their cells.
The report said: “In summary, greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was significantly associated with longer leukocyte telomere (which safeguards the ends of our chromosomes and stores our DNA code) length, a marker of biological ageing.
“The results further support the benefits of adherence to the Mediterranean diet for promoting health and longevity.”
While additional research will be needed to identify which specific components of the diet are responsible for providing the protection, we're glad that our image of Mediterranean foods as the very definition of la dolce vita can stay (well, for now).
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