Mediterranean Diet Gives Longer Life

Gianluca Tognon is a scientist at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

A Mediterranean diet with large amounts of vegetables and fish gives a longer life. This is the unanimous result of four studies to be published by the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg. Research studies ever since the 1950s have shown that a Mediterranean diet, based on a high consumption of fish and vegetables and a low consumption of animal-based products such as meat and milk, leads to better health.

Study on older people

Scientists at the Sahlgrenska Academy have now studied the effects of a Mediterranean diet on older people in Sweden. They have used a unique study known as the “H70 study” to compare 70-year-olds who eat a Mediterranean diet with others who have eaten more meat and animal products. The H70 study has studied thousands of 70-year-olds in the Gothenburg region for more than 40 years.

Chance of living longer

The results show that those who eat a Mediterranean diet have a 20% higher chance of living longer. “This means in practice that older people who eat a Mediterranean diet live an estimated 2 3 years longer than those who don’t”, says Gianluca Tognon, scientist at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

Support in other studies

These results are supported by three further as yet unpublished studies into Mediterranean diets and their health effects: one carried out on people in Denmark, the second on people in northern Sweden, and the third on children.

“The conclusion we can draw from these studies is that there is no doubt that a Mediterranean diet is linked to better health, not only for the elderly but also for youngsters”, says Gianluca Tognon.

Italian background

Gianluca Tognon himself is from Italy, but moved to Sweden and Gothenburg specifically to collaborate with Lauren Lissner’s research group at the Sahlgrenska Academy, and develop research into the Mediterranean diet.

UNESCO has recognised the Mediterranean diet as an intangible cultural heritage. UNESCO states that the Mediterranean diet is based on such items as fish, vegetables, nuts and fruit, but the concept includes also a structure of traditional customs in which knowledge is transferred between generations, giving a feeling of communal identity and continuity to the local population.

 

Reference

Tognon G, Rothenberg E, Eiben G, Sundh V, Winkvist A, Lissner L. Does the Mediterranean diet predict longevity in the elderly? A Swedish perspective. Age (Dordr) 2011;  33 (3): 439–450.

 

Increased Vitamin D in Blood Adds Years To Life

Low blood levels of vitamin D represent a significant health concern. New research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrates that small increases in vitamin D can add precious years to life. The vast majorities of adults (and many children) are grossly deficient in circulating blood levels of vitamin D.  

Eur J Clin Nutr

 

W B Grant

An estimate of the global reduction in mortality rates through doubling vitamin D levels
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011; 65: 1016-1026


ABSTRACT

Background/Objectives:
The goal of this work is to estimate the reduction in mortality rates for six geopolitical regions of the world under the assumption that serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels increase from 54 to 110 nmol/l.

Subjects/Methods:
This study is based on interpretation of the journal literature relating to the effects of solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) and vitamin D in reducing the risk of disease and estimates of the serum 25(OH)D level–disease risk relations for cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and respiratory infections. The vitamin D-sensitive diseases that account for more than half of global mortality rates are CVD, cancer, respiratory infections, respiratory diseases, tuberculosis and diabetes mellitus. Additional vitamin D-sensitive diseases and conditions that account for 2 to 3% of global mortality rates are Alzheimer’s disease, falls, meningitis, Parkinson’s disease, maternal sepsis, maternal hypertension (pre-eclampsia) and multiple sclerosis. Increasing serum 25(OH)D levels from 54 to 110 nmol/l would reduce the vitamin D-sensitive disease mortality rate by an estimated 20%.

Results:
The reduction in all-cause mortality rates range from 7.6% for African females to 17.3% for European females. Reductions for males average 0.6% lower than for females. The estimated increase in life expectancy is 2 years for all six regions.

Conclusions:
Increasing serum 25(OH)D levels is the most cost-effective way to reduce global mortality rates, as the cost of vitamin D is very low and there are few adverse effects from oral intake and/or frequent moderate UVB irradiance with sufficient body surface area exposed.