Mediterranean diet linked to healthy ageing

The Mediterranean diet has long been the focus of countless studies into health and wellbeing. Now, a new study has found that older people who followed the diet for a year experienced beneficial improvements in their microbiome linked to healthy ageing as well as a reduction in bacteria associated with harmful inflammation.

The research involved 612 people aged between 65 and 79, from five European countries. Half of the group switched their normal diet to a Mediterranean diet for a year. This required them to eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, olive oil and fish, and to consume less red meat, dairy products and saturated fats. The other half of the group continued with their usual diet. After a year, the people following the Mediterranean diet were found to have better bacterial diversity in the gut, compared with those in the control group.

This improved gut bacterial diversity was linked with improved markers of frailty, including better walking speed, better handgrip strength, and improved cognitive functioning. The participants who followed the Mediterranean diet also displayed fewer markers of chronic low-grade inflammation. The findings were published in the journal Gut. The researchers stated: “Collectively, our findings support the feasibility of improving the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier ageing.”

How to survive working from home

With millions of people potentially having to swap their office desks for the kitchen table in the coming weeks due to the outbreak of COVID-19, these tips from Tara Mestre ( could help you to manage the transition in a peaceful and balanced way.

Stick to your routine
When your desk is in the same building as your bed it’s easy to shun the alarm. This leads to oversleeping and does not set you up for a productive day. Stick to your routine, set your alarm and try to do everything you normally do on a working day.

Entertain your kids
With many kids staying home from school and childcare facilities closing, you may find yourself at home with the entire family, making work a little challenging. Audiobooks, educational cartoons, documentaries, arts and crafts are a great way to keep kids occupied so that you can get some work done.

Get physical
Use this time at home to increase your physical movement. Go for walks (if you can!) or make the most of the thousands of free yoga and exercise resources online. If your local gym or yoga studio is closing, ask the teachers if they are willing to do online classes, helping to financially support them in this difficult time.

Stay connected
If you are feeling lonely due to lack of interaction with colleagues, schedule online meetings or catch up group calls using platforms like Zoom, Skype or FB messenger. Staying connected is key to avoiding bouts of loneliness, anxiety and stress.

Create a nice atmosphere
Working from home means you get to control your environment. Burn some sweet-smelling candles, use an oil diffuser, turn on the radio and turn your home into an idyllic work environment.

Did you know?

67% of UK adults suffer from disrupted sleep and nearly a quarter (23%) manage no more than five hours a night.
Source: Aviva

Balanced protein intake can reduce age-related muscle loss

Eating more protein at breakfast or lunchtime could help older people maintain muscle mass with advancing age. However, most people eat proteins fairly unevenly throughout the day, new research at the University of Birmingham has found. The body’s mechanisms for producing new muscle require regular stimulation to function efficiently – this stimulation happens when we eat protein. The mechanisms are less efficient in older people, so they need to eat more protein to get the same response as younger people. But just eating more protein is not enough, though. Older people also need to spread that intake evenly across all their meals to ensure they maximise the benefits of protein for muscle mass.

The researchers studied the dietary intake of young, middle-aged and old-aged individuals with a particular focus on the amount, pattern and source of protein consumed. Their results showed that, while the majority of individuals across all three groups met or exceeded current national guidelines (RDA) for protein intake, the protein intake and distribution across daily meals and snacks was very varied. Most noticeably, the team found that old people, compared to young and middle-aged individuals, were more likely to eat a lower-quality protein source, such as bread, at lunchtime.

Future areas for research include studying how protein needs in hospitalised individuals could aid the maintenance of muscle mass, and to further elucidate the interaction between physical activity and protein consumption in the fight against age-related muscle loss.

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