So, let’s talk about the Mediterranean diet. It’s a trendy diet and has been proven to be good for your physical and mental health. Even if you think it is just a fad that will blow over eventually, there might be a good reason to continue with the Mediterranean diet even as you grow old.
In a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the health and dietary trends of 5,200 participants aged 65 and above from the Molise region in Italy were analysed. The researchers used the Mediterranean diet score (MDS) to study their diet. As part of the study, the particpants were surveyed on how close their diet matched the Mediterranean diet on a scale of 0-9. Through an analysis of the study along with 6 others, it was shown that each one-point increase in the MDS was associated with a 5 per cent lower risk of death.
When the results were adjusted for factors like age, sex, activity levels, socioeconomic status, smoking and BMI, they found those who scored 7-9 had a 25 per cent lower risk of death from any cause than those who scored 0-3. While the study could not prove the Mediterranean diet is behind the benefits, the researchers found that this diet prolongs survival in elderly individuals and recommended the adoption of this diet in old age.
According to a report in the Guardian, Marialaura Bonaccio, an epidemiologist at the Mediterranean Neurological Institute, IRCCS Neuromed, and first author of the study said, “we all know that [the] Mediterranean diet is good for health, but there are few studies focusing on the elderly.”
“If you start a good healthy lifestyle when you are young, probably your benefit will be even greater,” said Bonaccio, “But even if you are old and you start having a healthy lifestyle including diet you can [live longer].”
“I would say developing and maintaining healthier dietary habits is much more important earlier in life as once habits set in, they are usually maintained.” Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow who was not involved in the study, said.
According to a report in the Independent, Licia Lacoviello, head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology at Neuromed Institute and professor at the University of Insubria, Varese stated that the more you followed the diet, which includes limiting red meat consumption, the better the results.
But that’s not all. There are also other health benefits for the elderly.
A different study also showed that following the diet strictly can reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s by 53 per cent. For those who followed the diet moderately, the chances were reduced by 35 per cent.
“Although the idea that a healthy diet can help protect against cognitive decline as we age is not new, the size and length of these four studies demonstrate how powerful good dietary practices may be in maintaining brain health and function,” said Keith Fargo, Alzheimer’s Association Director of Scientific Programs and Outreach, according to a report in CNN.
With Singapore’s increasing ageing population, 14.4 per cent of citizens aged 65 and older in 2017. Therefore, it is important to take precautions to ensure that your aged parents live as healthy and fulfilling a life as possible. Not only is the Mediterranean diet healthy for you, but it might be even more beneficial for your aged parents.