Minnesota: Switching to a Mediterranean diet might hold the key to slowing down the ageing process, as revealed by the latest research.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School discovered that olive oil in the Mediterranean diet potentially has the ability to extend human lifespan and can also mitigate the onset of ageing-related diseases.
Their research findings were recently published in Molecular Cell.
Early studies on the diet suggested red wine was a major contributor to the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet because it contains a compound called resveratrol, which activated a certain pathway in cells known to increase lifespan and prevent ageing-related diseases.
Also read: Walnuts for healthy ageing: What study says
However, work done by researchers suggested that it is the olive oil’s fat and another component of the Mediterranean diet that is actually activating this pathway.
According to researchers, merely consuming olive oil is not enough to elicit all of the health benefits. The team’s studies suggest that when coupled with fasting, limiting caloric intake and exercising, the effects of consuming olive oil will be most pronounced.
“We found that the way this fat works is it first has to get stored in microscopic things called lipid droplets, which is how our cells store fat. When the fat is broken down during exercising or fasting, for example, is when the signalling and beneficial effects are realised,” said the lead researcher Doug Mashek.
The next steps for their research are to translate it to humans with the goal of discovering new drugs or to further tailor dietary regimens that improve health, both short-term and long-term.
“We want to understand the biology, and then translate it to humans. Hopefully, changing the paradigm of healthcare from someone going to eight different doctors to treat his or her eight different disorders,” Mashek said.
“These are all ageing-related diseases, so let’s treat ageing,” the researcher added.