The Mediterranean lifestyle, not just the diet, can greatly improve health

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Much is known about the heart-healthy benefits of adopting a Mediterranean-style diet, with a heavy focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, and healthy oils. But what about the rest of the Mediterranean way of life?

Short of lounging on the beaches of southern Italy or an island in Greece, could a focus on family-friendly, casual meals, afternoon siestas, and strong community bonds also improve health ?

A group of researchers explored what would happen if middle-aged and older British adults – who live about 1,500 miles northwest of the Mediterranean Sea and its friendly lifestyle – not only adopted the diet food, but also the physical activity and social habits of their southern country. neighbors. And they found that the more they adhered to this lifestyle, the less likely they were to die from cancer, cardiovascular disease or other health problems.

The findings, presented Feb. 28 at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle, and Cardiometabolic Health Conference in Boston, are considered preliminary until full results are released. in a peer-reviewed journal.

“This study suggests that the adoption of a Mediterranean lifestyle adapted to the local characteristics of non-Mediterranean populations is possible and can be part of a healthy lifestyle,” said study lead researcher Mercedes Sotos. -Prieto, assistant professor in the prevention department. medicine and public health at the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. She is also an adjunct professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

Previous research has shown that the Mediterranean-style dietary pattern helps protect against cardiovascular disease, thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In this latest study, researchers analyzed the impact of other Mediterranean lifestyle factors, including physical activity, rest, social habits and togetherness, on 110,799 middle-aged and older adults living in England, Scotland and Wales.

The participants came from the UK Biobank, a population-based, multicentre study of people aged 40-75 who were free of cancer and cardiovascular disease when they enrolled between 2009 and 2012. They were followed up until 2021.

A 25-point MEDLIFE index was used to score their adherence to the Mediterranean lifestyle. The index has been broken down into three blocks: Mediterranean food consumption (12 points), which looks at what people eat; Mediterranean eating habits (7 points), which looked at additional factors such as whether they snacked, added salt to their meals, or preferred whole grains over refined grains; and other lifestyle factors (6 points).

The final block included questions about whether people ate meals with family and friends (conviviality); engaged in physical activity with others, such as going for walks together; how often they met their family and friends (social habits); and how much sleep they got, both at night and during naps (rest).

After a median follow-up of 9.4 years, death records were used to compare mortality rates for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all other causes between people with higher MEDLIFE index scores and weaker. The analysis showed that the more people adhered to the Mediterranean lifestyle, the lower their risk of dying from cancer or any other cause.

Specifically, compared to those with the lowest MEDLIFE Index scores, adults who adhere most to the Mediterranean lifestyle had a 29% lower risk of dying from any cause and a 28% lower risk of dying from any cause. Lower % of dying from cancer. Higher scores for each of the three blocks of the MEDLIFE Index were associated with lower risks of cancer and lower all-cause death. Higher scores for the third block, related to lifestyle activities, were also associated with lower cardiovascular death risks.

The study highlights the important roles that community and social engagement play in good health, said Marie-Pierre St-Onge, associate professor of medicine and director of the Center of Excellence for Sleep and Circadian Research at the Columbia University in New York.

“The Mediterranean way of life involves interactions with others,” she said, a particularly important component for people as they age. Studies have shown that social isolation can increase the risk of having or dying from a heart attack or stroke.

The findings underscore why “we should pay attention to other aspects of lifestyle, beyond just physical activity,” said St-Onge, who was not involved in the study. “Maybe we need to look more and more at these social factors.”

One thing the study didn’t explore that would be interesting in future studies is the impact of stress, she said. “When you think of the Mediterranean lifestyle, you think of living at a slower pace, but this study doesn’t seem to capture that.”

More information:
MP08—Association of a Mediterranean lifestyle with all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a prospective cohort study from the UK Biobank. … 825/presentation/200

Provided by the American Heart Association

Quote: The Mediterranean Lifestyle, Not Just Diet, Can Greatly Improve Health (March 1, 2023) Retrieved March 2, 2023 from -health.html

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The Mediterranean lifestyle, not just the diet, can greatly improve health

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