According to one study, following a Mediterranean diet is connected with good aging.

A new study published in the journal Experimental Gerontology investigated the link between Mediterranean diet adherence and age-related health outcomes in older persons in Sicily, Italy.

Global changes in the aging population are expected to have an impact on the prevalence of age-related non-communicable diseases. According to the most recent global illness burden data, dementia affects around 55 million people. Furthermore, depression and anxiety disorders are quite common, affecting around 300 million and 260 million people, respectively.

Depression and sleep difficulties may be the prodroma of early-onset cognitive impairments, according to evidence. Because of their impact on aging and quality of life in the aged population, cognitive and mental illnesses are a global public health concern.

Several studies have shown that eating a healthy diet rich in plant-based natural products, such as the Mediterranean diet, can improve mental/cognitive health in the elderly. Fewer studies, however, have been undertaken among people living in/around the Mediterranean, where Mediterranean diet adherence remains high.

Concerning the research
The current study looked at the links between Mediterranean diet adherence and mental/cognitive health, quality of life, and “successful aging” in Sicily, Italy. During 2014-15, people aged 18 and above in Catania’s districts were recruited to form an observational cohort for the Mediterranean healthy eating, aging, and lifestyle (MEAL) project.

Personal interviews were conducted, and demographic information such as age, gender, education, occupation, smoking status, and physical activity was gathered. Food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) in both long and short forms were used to examine dietary intake. The calorie and macro/micronutrient intake was calculated by comparing food composition tables.

The Phenol-Explorer database was used to calculate polyphenol consumption. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was rated and classified as low, medium, or high. Sleep quality was assessed using the Pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI). The Center for Epidemiological Studies of Depression Short Form was used to measure depression. (CES-D).

For cognitive health and quality of life assessments, the Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire (SPMSQ) and Manchester Short Assessment of Quality of Life (MANSA) were employed. To assess effective aging, the successful aging index (SAI) was utilized. The sample was divided into quartiles based on Mediterranean diet adherence scores.

The odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for relationships between diet adherence and outcomes were calculated using logistic regression. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to examine the relationships between sleep quality, quality of life, depressive symptoms, and cognitive status. Diet adherence and SAI were predicted using an age- and gender-adjusted model.

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The study comprised 883 older individuals in total. The majority of individuals were married and never smoked. Individuals who adhered to the Mediterranean diet the most had moderate physical activity; people who adhered to the least were more likely to skip breakfast. Individuals in the highest adherence quartile consumed significantly more carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, and salt.

They also ate more vegetables, grains, and fruits while eating less meat. Polyphenol consumption was similarly higher among those in the top quartile of adherence. There were significant differences in CES-D, SPSMQ, and MANSA scores based on adherence quartiles. PSQI scores did not differ significantly.

After controlling for potential confounders, those in the highest quartile (of Mediterranean diet adherence) were more likely to have a good quality of life and were less likely to have depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment. Furthermore, people in the third quartile were more likely to have good sleep quality.

When the diet adherence score was considered a continuous variable, a one-point increase was related to an 11% reduction in cognitive impairment and a 51% improvement in quality of life. Participants in the top quartile of diet adherence were more likely to age well. A one-point increase in adherence was related to a 10% increase in the likelihood of effective aging.

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The study looked at the link between Mediterranean diet adherence and cognitive and behavioral health outcomes, as well as the quality of life in older persons. Higher Mediterranean diet adherence was found to be associated with better cognition, quality of life, and reduced depression symptoms than lesser adherence.

A substantial non-linear correlation was also found for sleep quality. The data imply that following a Mediterranean diet can give a healthy path to successful aging, with potential mental/cognitive health benefits.

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