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Gerontology. 2014;60(6):508-18. doi: 10.1159/000363060. Epub 2014 Aug 23.

Mediterranean diet and healthy ageing: a Sicilian perspective.

Author information

1
Istituto di Biomedicina e Immunologia Molecolare, Centro Nazionale per le Ricerche, Università di Palermo, Palermo, Italy.

Abstract

Traditional Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is a common dietary pattern characterizing a lifestyle and culture proven to contribute to better health and quality of life in Mediterranean countries. By analyzing the diet of centenarians from the Sicani Mountains and eating habits of inhabitants of Palermo, it is reported that a close adherence to MedDiet is observed in the countryside, whereas in big towns this adherence is not so close. This has an effect on the rates of mortality at old age (and reciprocally longevity) that are lower in the countryside than in big towns. Concerning the health effects of the diet, the low content of animal protein and the low glycaemic index of the Sicilian MedDiet might directly modulate the insulin/IGF-1 and the mTOR pathways, known to be involved in ageing and longevity. In particular, the reduction of animal protein intake may significantly reduce serum IGF-1 concentrations and inhibit mTOR activity with a down-regulation of the signal that leads to the activation of FOXO3A and, consequently, to the transcription of homeostatic genes that favour longevity. The down-regulation of both IGF-1 and mTORC1 also induces an anti-inflammatory effect. In addition to the effects on sensing pathways, many single components of MedDiet are known to have positive effects on health, reducing inflammation, optimizing cholesterol and other important risk factors of age-related diseases. However, a key role is played by polyphenols represented in high amount in the Sicilian MedDiet (in particular in extra virgin olive oil) that can work as hormetins that provide an environmental chemical signature regulating stress resistance pathways such as nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2.

PMID:
25170545
DOI:
10.1159/000363060
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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