A recent investigation by the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea-Plus (PREDIMED-Plus) has unveiled that the Mediterranean diet, when paired with physical activity, could be a key factor in countering body changes associated with aging, such as fat accumulation and muscle mass loss.
The study, disclosed in JAMA Network Open on October 18, initially aimed to explore whether this diet could thwart cardiovascular diseases.
However, a subgroup was evaluated during the process to measure the impact on body composition over a three-year span.
The findings illustrated that an energy-reduced (lower-calorie) Mediterranean diet along with increased physical activity seemed to curtail age-related weight gain and muscle loss.
Participants and Methodology
A total of 1,521 middle-aged and older individuals, who were either overweight or had obesity and metabolic syndrome, were divided into two groups. The first group adhered to the Mediterranean diet while slashing their calorie intake by 30% and augmenting their physical activity.
The second group pursued the Mediterranean diet without calorie restrictions or alterations in physical activity.
Participants in the first group underwent “clinically meaningful” body composition changes throughout the three-year experiment. This encompassed a 5% or greater enhancement in fat mass, visceral (belly) fat mass, and lean muscle mass loss after merely one year of adhering to the diet.
Registered dietitian Ilana Muhlstein, not involved in the study, highlighted that the Mediterranean diet has been “touted for many years as the healthiest diet in the world.”
She added that the obsession with veggies and fresh herbs is a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet that many overlooks.
Muhlstein emphasized the significance of including an abundance of vegetables in every meal, as done in countries with superior cardiovascular health like Israel or Greece.
She also encouraged individuals to limit pita bread and fill half of their plates with Mediterranean diet staples like roasted eggplants, pickled turnips, and chopped salads.
Regarding physical activity, Muhlstein recommended about 45 minutes of exercise six days a week, aligning with the active lifestyles of individuals residing in the Mediterranean region.
Regular Nutritional Guidance
She also accentuated the importance of regular nutritional guidance, as study participants were contacted by trained dietitians three times a month, which, according to her, likely led to “significantly improving” their relationship with food, moving away from the unhealthy mindset towards food prevailing in other places.
This study not only sheds light on the potential benefits of the Mediterranean diet in combating adverse body changes due to aging, but also underscores the pivotal role of consistent nutritional counseling and an active lifestyle in promoting a healthier body composition and overall well-being.
With information from Fox News