Our obsession with delaying the aging process ensures regimens like The Mediterranean and The Blue Zone rise above flash in the pan fads. The peoples of both regions tend to live longer and wrinkle much slower than their western counterparts, and a new study published in Molecular Cell reveals some of the bio-mechanisms at play, namely olive oil consumption, physical activity, and limited calorie intake.
The key ingredient
Olive oil is a prominent feature of Mediterranean cuisine. The liquid fat is robust with anti-inflammatory compounds advantageously linked to heart, bone, and digestive health.
Since inflammation is responsible for many different metabolic and cognitive impairments, diets that call for plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins, fatty fish, and fresh herbs effectively decrease morbidity statics. When consumed in moderation, red wine (another popular fixture of The Mediterranean diet) is said to extend one’s lifespan on behalf of a compound called resveratrol .
Only recently have medical experts begun to focus each element of a healthy diet toward mortality predictors. We understood olive oil to be a healthy alternative to processed ingredients, but we weren’t quite aware of the multitude of health benefits it afforded.
The new research helmed by Professor Doug Mashek, Ph.D. concluded that consuming olive oil while fasting intermittently and habitually achieving mild to vigorous exercise boosts longevity and reduces the physical markers of aging.
“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. And then, when the fat is broken down during exercising or fasting, for example, is when the signaling and beneficial effects are realized,” Mashek explained in a press statement.
The team of researchers at The University of Minnesota Medical School began their trial with animal models before attempting to replicate results with human cells gathered in a petri dish.
In both legs of the study olive oil appeared to activate cellular pathways associated with longevity. The outcome was more profound if the subject fasted or engaged in physical activity. Without the presence of either precondition, the lion’s share of health benefits remained stored in adipose tissue—alternatively referred to as fat tissue.
Alongside the novel citations, the new paper additionally corroborated finds documented in proceeding literature; routinely consuming olive oil dramatically reduced one’s risk for developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and age-induced degenerative conditions.
“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 aging-related diseases, so let’s treat aging.”
Mashek intends on conducting clinical tests in order to extract the relevant agents yielded by the new analysis.
The paper, titled, Lipid Droplet-Derived Monounsaturated Fatty Acids Traffic via PLIN5 to Allosterically Activate SIRT1, can be read in its entirety in the journal Molecular Cell.
Be sure to check out Ladders’ detailed guideline on the healthiest intermittent fasting techniques, as well as our extensive coverage of The Mediterranean diet.