Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Mediterranean diet 'lengthens life by up to FIFTEEN years', researchers claim

What a lot of old dribble! The traditional Australian diet -- heavy in meat and fat -- is about as opposite as can be to the Mediterranean diet -- yet Australians live LONGER than Greeks and Italians

Those who follow a Mediterranean diet combined with exercise, not smoking and keeping to a healthy weight could live up to 15 years longer, researchers say.

The ten-year study by the University of Maastricht followed 120,000 men and women who were aged 55 to 69 in 1986.

The effect is strongest in women, who can live an extra 15 years compared to the least healthy people, while healthy men can enjoy eight years more.

Researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands said keeping to the four healthy lifestyle factors can 'substantially reduce' the risk of an early death.

Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers looked at 120,000 men and women who were aged 55 to 69 in 1986. They calculated a 'healthy lifestyle score' based on smoking, exercise, weight and diet and followed the group until 1996.

A Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, olive oil, fruit, nuts, fish and whole grains, and low in meat and alcohol. Rubbish! The have wine with most meals!]

Piet van den Brandt, professor of epidemiology at Maastricht University, who worked on the study, said: 'Very few research studies worldwide have analysed the relationship between a combination of lifestyle factors and mortality in this way. 'This study shows that a healthy lifestyle can lead to significant health benefits.

'Furthermore, the effects of a Mediterranean diet were more evident in women than in men. 'Within this diet, nuts, vegetables and alcohol intake had the biggest impact on lower mortality rates.'


Having a long life is 'all down to inheriting the right genes'

Smoking, drinking and eating fast food will not stop you living to a ripe old age – if you have the right genes. A study of hundreds of centenarians revealed they were just as likely to have vices as other people – and in some cases they indulged in them more.

Some of them had smoked for 85 years, others got through more than two packets of cigarettes a day. They also exercised less than their shorter-lived counterparts but were less likely to become obese.

The bad news is it is almost impossible to be sure if you are one of the lucky few blessed with the longevity genes. This means, say the American researchers, that there is no excuse for not taking care of your health.

Almost 500 men and women aged between 95 and 109 were asked about how they had lived their lives for the study. Those quizzed were Ashkenazi Jews, whose relatively recent descent from small founder groups means there is less variation in their genes than in the general population, making it easier to spot the effects of genetics. The results were then compared with the answers of a second group who were born around the same time but had had normal lifespans.

If lifestyle was more important than genetics, the results would have shown the centenarians to be less likely to smoke than the others and have led healthier lives. But this was far from the case, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reported.

The long-lived men and women were no more likely to have dieted than the others and were more likely to have smoked and drunk.

Researcher Nir Barzilai, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said: ‘This study suggests centenarians may possess additional longevity genes that help to buffer them against the harmful effects of an unhealthy lifestyle.’

But most of us will not be so lucky. He added: ‘Although this study demonstrates centenarians can be obese, smoke and avoid exercise, these lifestyle habits are not good choices for most of us who do not have a family history of longevity.’


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