How Following A Mediterranean Lifestyle Could Help You Live Longer

The Mediterranean diet is well known for being one of the healthiest diets out there. In fact, the diet is so revered that U.S. News & World Report named it one of their Best Diets of 2023. As they mention, the Mediterranean diet draws its inspiration from 21 countries around the Mediterranean Sea, such as Turkey, Italy, Greece, Croatia, and Lebanon. The diet consists of nutritious plant-based foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, as well as fish and healthy fats. In addition to being low in saturated fats, the diet is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, according to the American Society for Nutrition. When following the diet, it's recommended to avoid eating processed foods, red meats, butter, and refined grains. Fortunately, wine lovers can still have their favorite beverage in moderation. 

Following a Mediterranean diet has been associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease and premature death. As explained in a 2019 review published in Nutrients, the natural foods in the Mediterranean diet also carry antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the risk of certain cancers. 

Eating healthy is certainly one way to live longer, but it's only one aspect of the Mediterranean lifestyle. Living a Mediterranean lifestyle also involves sharing meals with family and friends, being social, staying active, and getting enough rest, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). A 2023 study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that adopting these healthy lifestyle habits, coupled with following a Mediterranean diet, could increase life expectancy.

The health benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle

If you've been searching for ways to live longer, adopting a Mediterranean lifestyle may be a great place to start. The 2023 study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings examined the responses of 110,799 British adults between 40 to 75, who were given lifestyle questionnaires and diet assessments that asked whether they followed a Mediterranean diet, were physically active, engaged in social activities, and were getting enough rest. 

The researchers followed up with the participants after nine years and discovered that actively engaging in the Mediterranean lifestyle was associated with a lower mortality rate. Even more so than with diet, there was a significant link between physical activity, rest, social habits, and conviviality and a decreased risk of premature death from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other causes, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports. "We're seeing the transferability of the lifestyle and its positive effects on health," said Mercedes Sotos Prieto, lead author of the study and adjunct assistant professor of environmental health at the school. The study revealed the connection between social engagement and better health outcomes, especially as people age, notes the AHA

The Mediterranean lifestyle offers numerous health benefits, and you may wonder how you can start living it yourself. You can adopt the Mediterranean lifestyle by gradually altering your some of your daily habits.

Making the Mediterranean lifestyle part of your everyday routine

For some people, adopting a Mediterranean lifestyle could feel like a Herculean task. By breaking it into steps and making gradual changes, it may not feel so overwhelming. 

As far as modifying your diet is concerned, you can start by adding fruits and vegetables to each meal, explains the Cleveland Clinic. Ultimately, it's recommended to eat at least three servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit each day. You can also try to eat three servings of seafood, nuts, and legumes per week. In addition, you can have up to 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil each day. Some fish that contain plenty of healthy fats are salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, and sardines. Individuals living in Mediterranean areas also frequently eat walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. 

Getting enough sleep is also crucial for the Mediterranean lifestyle, and following the Mediterranean diet may even help with your sleep. According to a 2022 article published in Nutrients, there is evidence that the Mediterranean diet is linked to a better night's sleep. Eating too much red meat, saturated fat, and sugary foods has been associated with poor sleep quality and insomnia symptoms

Another way to practice the Mediterranean lifestyle is by interacting with others more often. As noted by Healthline, you can enhance your social life by enrolling in a class or taking up an enjoyable hobby. You could also make a meaningful difference by volunteering in your community.