According to new research, the Mediterranean diet is a healthy option for adults of all ages. It’s never too late to reconsider changing your diet, even if you’re in your golden years. For years, nutritionists have extolled the virtues of the Mediterranean diet, and new research suggests that it is beneficial to adults of all ages.
A higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet, as measured by a biomarker-based index over a 20-year period of scientific monitoring, is associated with lower mortality in adults over the age of 65. This is one of the main findings of a study led by Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, head of the Research Group on Biomarkers and Nutritional & Food Metabolomics at the University of Barcelona (UB) and the CIBER on Fragility and Healthy Ageing (CIBERFES), which is also part of the Catalan Food Innovation Network (XIA).
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the importance of diet in the prevention of noncommunicable diseases. Unhealthy nutrition, as well as other harmful lifestyle health behaviors, are recognized as major risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, malignant cancer, and chronic respiratory disease.
We develop an index of dietary biomarkers based on food groups that are part of the Mediterranean diet, and we assess their association with mortality. To begin, simply incorporate more color into your diet. That means consuming a lot more fruits and vegetables.Professor Cristina Andrés-Lacueva
The study, which was published in the journal BCM Medicine, was carried out in collaboration with the United States’ National Institute on Aging (NIA). According to the findings, analyzing dietary biomarkers in plasma and urine can help with individualized food assessment in the elderly. The research is based on the InCHIANTI project, which was carried out in the Italian region of Tuscany over a period of twenty years, with a total of 642 participants (56 percent of whom were women) aged 65 or older, allowing researchers to collect comprehensive data on food biomarkers.
“We develop an index of dietary biomarkers based on food groups that are part of the Mediterranean diet, and we assess their association with mortality,” said UB Professor Cristina Andrés-Lacueva, head of the research group in CIBERFES.
The researchers chose the following dietary biomarkers in the urine as reference levels in the study: total polyphenols and resveratrol metabolites (from grape intake) and present in plasma, plasma carotenoids, selenium, vitamin B12, fatty acids and their proportion of monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids. They used a predictive model to examine the links between the Mediterranean diet index and the food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and mortality.
There were 425 deaths over the course of the twenty-year monitoring period (139 due to cardiovascular diseases and 89 due to cancer-related causes). After the models were run, the score of the Mediterranean diet using biomarkers was found to be inversely related to all causes of death.
“The Mediterranean diet is not just a shopping list of foods,” Bonaccio explained. “It also includes things like food sharing (conviviality), seasonality, and food combining. A typical Mediterranean way of eating pasta, for example, is with legumes or vegetables.”
Individuals who want to make some dietary changes inspired by the Mediterranean can check out Healthline’s own meal plan ideas, which include recipes for things like zucchini blossoms with bulgar and grilled fish in saffron sauce.
“To begin, simply incorporate more color into your diet. That means consuming a lot more fruits and vegetables. Then, swap some of your more snack options (such as pretzels, chips, and so on) for nuts and olives, and finally, replace red meat with wild fatty fish and lean skinless poultry. I believe these are significant steps toward better health.”
The use of dietary biomarkers to improve nutritional assessment and guide a customized assessment for older people is highlighted in this study. The researchers “confirm that an adherence to the Mediterranean diet assessed by a panel of dietary biomarkers is inversely associated with long-term mortality in older adults, which supports the use of these biomarkers in monitoring evaluations to study the health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet,” according to UB CIBERFES researcher Tomás Meroo, co-first signatory of the study.