The Mediterranean diet is healthier than the typical western diet that most Americans indulge in.
That is no secret. Avoiding junk foods, sodas and eating wholesome meals cooked properly would always make a person healthier, fitter and will avert potential chronic illnesses.
But what has also been confirmed by numerous researches over the years is that Mediterranean diet can actually slow down the process of aging.
The Mediterranean diet may sound like an exotic dietary lifestyle or something that is not attainable unless you are in south of Europe or north of Africa. In reality, endorsing and practicing a Mediterranean dietary habit is not that difficult.
Let us first understand what such a diet may comprise of and then we shall explore how it can slow down the aging process.
The Mediterranean diet typically comprises of fruits, nuts, vegetables and a bit of wine with every meal.
And the food is mostly cooked in olive oil. Hence, you are looking at meals that are loaded with fruits, legumes, nuts, unrefined grains and vegetables.
You should be cooking in olive oil and avoid all saturated fats. The source of animal protein would be primarily fish or poultry and dairy products.
Red meat or processed meat should be avoided. Wine is an integral part of meals but in very moderate amounts, although taken regularly.
Now, how does this diet help in slowing the aging process?
Studies published in numerous journals including the one featuring in The BMJ have shown that this diet can contribute to a longer telomere length. Telomeres are an integral part of our chromosomes.
These telomeres shorten over time. They typically become half of what they were originally as one grows up through adolescence and becomes an adult.
The remaining telomere gets halved further as one grows older through the years and is poised for old age. At this juncture, the telomere length is almost a third of what it was at the time of birth or during infancy.
The Mediterranean diet has been proven to keep the telomeres longer for a much greater period of time through adolescence and adulthood, thus preventing the telomeres from fraying.
This not only helps in preserving the genetic codes and the physical integrity of the chromosomes, but it also helps in averting chronic diseases and age related ailments.
In the process, aging is slowed down considerably over time.
But the results cannot be obtained by being on such a diet for a few months or half a year.
One has to be on such a diet for a long time.