After a certain age, our bodies need an abundance of nutrients to maintain optimal functioning. There are so many diets to choose from, and depending on what your health goals are, there’s one out there that will meet your needs. When it comes to the diet that is the best for older folks who want to live a long, healthy life, experts say the Mediterranean diet takes home the gold.
The Mediterranean diet is an eating plan that mimics the way folks in Mediterranean countries eat. It’s focused heavily on fresh produce, seafood, and whole grains.
According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, following a Mediterranean diet might help you live longer — by a lot. The researchers conducted their own study on a population of over 5,000 people age 65 and older, and they also did a meta-analysis of seven other studies that looked at the effects of the Mediterranean diet in older populations. In the end, they concluded that following a mediterranean diet resulted in a 25 percent lower risk of death from any cause.
Even further, the researchers found that the closer someone followed the diet, the greater the health benefits. For their own part of the study, they rated each person on a one to nine scale, with one being the least strict adherence to the Mediterranean diet and nine being the most strict. From this group, the researchers saw that subjects who followed the Mediterranean diet more strictly had better cardiovascular (heart) health, while their risk of dying from heart disease or a heart attack decreased. Even those who scored a one on the adherence scale saw a five percent reduction in death risk!
The meta-analysis they conducted revealed similar results, indicating that the diet could be considered the healthiest for older adults who want to live longer. “The Mediterranean diet lowers overall mortality risk in a dose-response, progressive way. In other words, the more you follow the Mediterranean diet, the greater the gain in terms of mortality risk reduction,” said study author Marialaura Bonaccio, PhD in a press release. So how exactly do you follow it?
One of the most important elements of the Mediterranean diet is healthy fat. You’re encouraged to consume lots of omega-3 fats in the form of fatty fish like salmon, avocados, and nuts like walnuts, or seeds like flax seeds. Otherwise, food groups to focus on include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Protein from seafood, poultry, and dairy are allowed (but included sparingly), and red meat is rarely consumed.
The Mediterranean diet has shown to have other benefits, too. In fact, research indicates that it may just be the best diet for gut health, improving digestion and immunity. Some studies even show that it could be beneficial if you’re trying to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. All in all, trying out a Mediterranean diet is probably going to improve your health in more ways than one. As always, get a doctor’s ok before trying any new plan.
Here’s to a longer, happier, and healthier life!