A new study has shown that the health benefits of switching to a Mediterranean style diet and upping the amount of time spent exercising for a period of just eight weeks could be seen a year after stopping the regime.
The paper, Long-term effects of an exercise and Mediterranean diet intervention in the vascular function of an older, healthy population, was published in the journal Microvascular Research.
The diet and exercise combination results in improved blood flow in cells in the inner lining of the blood vessels a full 12 months after completing participation in the intervention program, according to the research by Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Lincoln in the UK.
It is believed by researchers that the health benefits in long term observed after such a short intervention may be because of molecular changes associated with the Mediterranean diet. Traditional Mediterranean cuisine is based on olive oil, fruit, vegetables and salad, fish, legumes, wholegrain foods, wine and limited consumption of red meat.
Lead researcher Dr Markos Klonizakis, a Research Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Preserving a patient’s endothelial function as they get older is thought to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, so these findings are very encouraging.”
Although exercise on its own can beneficial, other lifestyle factors such as nutrition play an important role as well.
“Considering the scientific evidence already out there that a Mediterranean diet offers health benefits, it made sense to examine how such a diet, when combined with exercise, could affect the small veins of our body due to their important role in our overall well-being, in the longer-term.”
Co-researcher Geoff Middleton, Senior Lecturer in the School of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Lincoln, added: “With cardiovascular disease being on the rise, adding a huge burden to healthcare systems around the globe, it is important to find ways to reduce the number of cases. Even a medium-duration intervention with a Mediterranean diet and exercise regime can promise long-term health benefits, especially in people at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.”
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