Mediterranean Diet and Elderly

A modified Mediterranean diet having plant foods and unsaturated lipids was associated with a significantly longer life expectancy in apparently healthy elderly people living in nine European countries.

Data for participants aged 60 or over at recruitment were included in the EPIC-elderly study. This study aims to identify dietary patterns among elderly Europeans and to investigate the associations of diet with survival.

The Mediterranean diet has :

1)a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and whole cereals

2) a moderate to high intake of fish;

 3)a high intake of unsaturated lipids, particularly olive oil;

 4)a low to moderate intake of dairy products, mostly cheese and yogurt;

5)a low intake of meat; and

6)a modest intake of ethanol, mostly as wine.

Polyunsaturates are the basic unsaturated added lipids in diets in non-Mediterranean countries and are known to have  beneficial effects in coronary heart disease.

Dietary intakes

Compatible instruments (food frequency questionnaires ) were used  to measure usual dietary intakes and records of intake over seven or 14 days that had been developed and validated within each centre. For  dietary intake over 24 hours dietary recall, a computerised instrument was developed to collect information from a stratified random sample. The aim was to calibrate the measurements across countries.

 Food composition tables of the country were used to calculate nutrient intakes. In the present study, 14 food groups and nutrients were considered: potatoes, vegetables, legumes, fruits, dairy products, cereals, meat and meat products, fish and seafood, eggs, monounsaturated lipids, polyunsaturated lipids, saturated lipids, sugar and confectionery, and non-alcoholic beverages  .

To record data on lifestyle and health a precoded questionnaire was used, including educational achievement, history of illnesses, history of smoking, and physical activity. Anthropometric measurements were taken in most EPIC centres using similar, standardised procedures.

Better results were seen in Greece and Spain, probably because in these countries the modified Mediterranean diet is genuinely a Mediterranean diet ( most of the deaths occurred in northern Italy, where the diet cannot be considered as Mediterranean)

Results: An increase in the modified Mediterranean diet score was associated with lower overall mortality.

Conclusion :The modified Mediterranean diet was associated with increased survival among older people.

Reference -BMJ Study’2005

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