The diet that can add years to your life

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Late last century, a group of athletes was asked this question: if you could take a drug that will guarantee you’ll never again be beaten, but which will kill you within five years, would you take it?

About half said they would.

So what if you were asked the following question: if you could take natural substances that will extend your life, with no negative side effects, would you take them?

You’d probably only say, ‘No, I wouldn’t’ if you were looking forward to dying. If you fancy the prospect of living a little longer, then read on.

These substances are known to you. 

A group of Harvard researchers wrote about their benefits in 2015 and numerous studies since have come to similar conclusions.

It’s called the Mediterranean Diet, and while it may not be rocket science to suggest that olive oil, fruits and vegetables are good for you, it remains puzzling as to why so many Australians refuse to make the simple changes in their diet to give themselves the best chance at longevity.

And make no mistake, the evidence appears to be indisputable.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 7447 women (aged 60 to 80) and men (aged 55 to 80) who were at a high cardiovascular risk but did not have cardiovascular disease when they signed up.

Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups:

Mediterranean Diet plus four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil daily

Mediterranean Diet plus one ounce of nuts daily

Control diet.

By the end of the study, both Mediterranean Diet groups experienced a significant 30 per cent reduction in the combined risk of acute heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular death over the five-year period, compared with the control group.

And as recently as last August, a study was conducted by Neuromed Mediterranean Neurological Institute in Italy, which examined the merits of a Mediterranean Diet among older people.

Studying some 5200 people aged 65 and older for about eight years, the research observed that there was a ‘dose-response’ relationship between diet and survival in seniors – the closer the diet was to a Mediterranean one, the longer the survival.

The findings supported the idea that adopting or continuing with a Mediterranean Diet could help older people ‘maximise their prospects for survival’.

And there’s more good news.

While a Mediterranean Diet brings with it higher intakes of mono-unsaturated fats (healthy fats), such as in virgin olive oil, there was also a benefit to be had from moderate consumption of alcohol, preferably during meals.

The research concluded that ‘if inserted in a Mediterranean food context, a moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages is a protective factor for our health’.

So what does a Mediterranean Diet involve?

Well, going to live by the Mediterranean might be an option you’d consider, but if not, simply try eating less unprocessed food and more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts, use olive oil wherever possible, limit red meat consumption to once a month and have weekly intakes of fish and white meat.

And as for alcohol, it’s suggested that men can have a glass or two of wine every day, while women are allowed one glass.

So there you have it. Why wouldn’t you give it a try?

Are you already a fan of the Mediterranean Diet? Or will you give it a try? Do the principles of the diet make sense to you?

Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

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Written by Janelle Ward

19 Comments

Total Comments: 19
  1. 0
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    Not all oils are equal though. There are some very misleading virgin olive oils on the market which are more full of cheap oil fillers such as palm oil and canola and so forth which are not healthy for you.

  2. 0
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    So if you want to avoid buying palm oil, when buying food look for the label stating it is vegetable oil. Then look for saturated fat. If only vegetable oil (no animal fat listed) is used and there is saturated fat in the product – you are buying palm kernel oil, palm oil or coconut oil, most probably palm.

  3. 0
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    How many times are we going to have these articles? Going to die one day anyhow. Eat what you like and be happy.

  4. 0
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    Every researcher comes up with the same diet, and calls it something different.

  5. 0
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    As a vegetarian this is a standad diet for me though I do include avocado oil rather than olive oil.

    • 0
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      Not quite because as a vegetarian you would not be eating the meat, fish no matter how moderate the portion or frequency. You may still be including eggs and dairy as a vegetarian. Its only vegans who eschew ALL animal products.

      I have been a vegetarian for over 45 years!

    • 0
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      I have been vegetarian for about 37 years (but I am most likely younger than you) and vegan for 15 years (approximately). I only use coconut oil, the only oil that does not go rancid.

  6. 0
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    The Mediterranean diet comes up trumps for brain health and protecting against gognative decline too. See here:
    https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/910263?nlid=128770_1842&src=WNL_mdplsfeat_190319_mscpedit_wir&uac=175467DZ&spon=17&impID=1912499&faf=1

    More and more research is showing consistency of the med diet benefits on many different aspects of health and chronic disease. Maybe we should be listening a bit harder.

  7. 0
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    less unprocessed food in this story shouldn’t it read Less processed Food and very true Ted and a tip always get Cold Pressed Oil

  8. 0
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    If you have heart disease in your heritage and are high risk of heart attack/stroke etc. this diet will help with your well-being but don’t stop taking your medication. The olive oil needs to be “cold pressed” good quality oil. Some people have allergies and can’t eat some grains and other things so certain foods need to be eliminated. Anyhow probably one of the reasons for not sticking to something that is good for you is the boredom of eating the same things day after day. We often use all these fruits and vegetables in our daily diets but when we cook them and/or use processed ingredients in doing so we enjoy what we cook more. Hot summer weather we eat more uncooked foods/salads etc. winter hot warming spicey foods. Our taste buds and our brain dictate what we want to eat.

    • 0
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      I eat the same think all the time and do not get bored because I eat a large variety. Most people think my diet is restrictive but I don’t see it that way especially because I feel so much healthier. I also eat salad every day no matter what the season. I never even get a cold or flu, have not for many years.

  9. 0
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    Janelle why post about this diet again, we all know about it and the studies are flawed, it is not the oil that makes it healthier (than bad diets) it is the consumption of fruit and vegetables which is higher than their animal proteins. Oil is pure fat,and high in calories, it is not a food and does not contribute to good health. Unless you get it freshly pressed it also has no nutritional value left, and mostly rancid sitting in supermarkets for long periods of time. The only oil that does not go rancid is coconut oil, can stay in your cupboard for years and still hold nutritional value, but still only use minimally because it too is high in fat, but much better for you.

    • 0
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      Then why are you reading it, if you think you know better.

    • 0
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      Casey, it is not about me knowing better, it is my passion and I want to help people, we are getting told so many lies because of invested interests by big business for greed and it is time people find out the truth. And the evidence is there to eat more fruit and vegetables and other wholefoods rather than the packaged rubbish that has been pushed on to us since they started packaging food in mass amounts in the 1950’s. And less protein from animal sources, this too has been pushed too hard. This is the true cause of disease.

  10. 0
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    I have lots of olive virgin oil eat lots of nuts and drink grog every night eat lots of salad, look at me! You can also look as good as me!


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