Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mediterranean Diet and Calorie Restriction Promote Brain Health and Longevity

Researchers have long theorized that a Mediterranean diet full of vegetables, fruit, fish, nuts, seeds and olive oil can help promote good health. Scientists at the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden reporting in the European journal AGE provides the unanimous results of four independent studies that demonstrate this style of eating not only lowers the risk from many chronic and potentially fatal diseases, but actually extends healthy lifespan in aging adults.

A separate research body appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) explains that calorie restriction or consuming about twenty-five percent fewer calories each day, turns on a molecule that helps the brain stay young. Extrapolating the results of both studies suggests that following a Mediterranean diet with fewer calories may provide a valuable key to preserving memory, lowering risk of serious illness and extending a healthy life span.

Mediterranean Diet Improves Lifespan by Twenty Percent
Swedish researchers studied the effects of a Mediterranean diet on older people in the Swiss population. They developed a unique study designed to compare 70-year-olds who eat a Mediterranean diet with others who have eaten more meat and animal products. The intent was to confirm the positive results suggested by a myriad of studies over the past decade that found a diet low in animal meats and high in fresh vegetables and monounsaturated fats can improve health and extend lifespan.

The result of the study indicated that those who eat a Mediterranean diet have a 20% higher chance of living longer. The study leader, Dr. Gianluca Tognon commented “This means in practice that older people who eat a Mediterranean diet live an estimated two to three years longer than those who don't”. Three additional studies awaiting publication support these results. Dr. Tognon concluded “there is no doubt that a Mediterranean diet is linked to better health, not only for the elderly but also for youngsters.”

Calorie Restricted Diet Slows Brain Aging to Improve Cognition
An independent study found that overeating may cause brain aging while eating less turns on a molecule that helps the brain stay young. Italian researchers demonstrated that a molecule called CREB1 is triggered by a calorie restricted diet and activates many genes linked to longevity and to the proper functioning of the brain. Calorie restriction is defined as eating 25 to 30 percent less than normal while maintaining optimal nutrition.

Researchers conducting the study concluded “This discovery has important implications to develop future dietary therapies to keep our brain young and prevent brain degeneration and the aging process.” Compiling the available scientific evidence shines a critical light on how the type of food we consume (Mediterranean diet) and the quantity (Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition) can help prevent premature brain aging and lower the risk of cognitive decline as we age.

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