Monday, September 02, 2013

Would Mediterranean Diet Benefit Elderly?

Mediterranean diet is a nutritional recommendation that is built on high proportion of olive oil, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains and fish. It follows closely the traditional dietary patterns of people living in the areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea including Greece, southern Italy and Spain, and is also characterized by a moderate consumption of wine, dairy products, and poultry, together with a low consumption of red meat, sweet beverages, creams, and pastries.

Being low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat and dietary fiber, Mediterranean diet has been praised for increasing longevity and preventing chronic disease and cognitive decline. In fact, initially healthy middle-aged adults in the Mediterranean region have found to have low incidence of fatal and non-fatal heart disease if they adhere closely to the Mediterranean diet.

In 2011, a systematic review found that a Mediterranean diet appeared to be more effective than a low-fat diet in achieving long-term changes to cardiovascular risk factors like lowering cholesterol level and blood pressure.

On April 17, 2013, a group of Spanish researchers reported in the ‘Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences’ that adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk of hyperuricemia.

Hyperuricemia is defined as a serum uric acid (SUA) concentration higher than 7 mg/dl in men and higher than 6 mg/dl in women. It is associated with metabolic syndrome, hypertension (high blood pressure), Type-2 diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, gout and, cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. It is believed that the Mediterranean diet might help lower SUA concentration because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

7,447 male participants aged between 55 and 80 years old were examined in the 5-year study. These men were free from cardiovascular disease but had either Type-2 diabetes mellitus or were at risk of coronary heart disease. They were assigned to 1 of the 3 intervention diets: 2 were Mediterranean diets enriched with extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts, and 1 was a control low-fat diet.

Only 4,449 participants were included in the analysis. Their concentrations of uric acid at baseline were available (of these, 1,551 were assigned to the Mediterranean diet plus olive oil group, 1,407 to the Mediterranean diet plus nut group, and 1,491 to the control low-fat diet group).

The findings of the study revealed positive health effects of a Mediterranean diet in older adults. The rates of reversion were higher among hyperuricemic participants at baseline who had greater adherence to the Mediterranean diets. Meanwhile, the researchers also found that the reversion of hyperuricemia was achieved by adherence to the Mediterranean Diet alone, without weight loss or changes to physical activity.

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