Nita Wong ‘21
Characterized by high consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, unrefined cereals, olive oil, and fish, the Mediterranean diet is known for its myriad of health benefits: previous research suggests that adherence to such eating habits improves cholesterol and blood sugar levels, reduces risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, prevents heart disease and strokes, and protects against type two diabetes. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in England is adding reduction of bone loss in individuals with osteoporosis to the list.
Led by Professor Susan Fairweather-Tait from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, the study is the first long-term clinical trial to study the impact of the Mediterranean diet on bone health in seniors. Over 1,000 individuals between the ages of 65 and 79 volunteered for the study. These participants were randomly assigned to either the control or the experimental group; the latter followed the Mediterranean diet while the former did not. Researchers measured the bone density of all subjects twice – first at the beginning of the study and again 12 months later – and analyzed the collected data. Although the diet had no significant effect on participants with normal bone density, its impact on individuals with osteoporosis was evident: while those in the control group saw continued decrease in bone density, participants who had followed the Mediterranean diet experienced statistically significant increase in the bone density of the femoral neck, which connects the shaft of the femur to its rounded head.
The researchers acknowledged that marked bone growth requires much longer than a year. As a result, their subsequent goal is to conduct a longer trial, this time including only individuals with osteoporosis; it is their hope that the Mediterranean diet will prove to be an addition or even alternative to current drug treatments, many of which are accompanied by severe side effects.
- A. Jennings, et. al., Mediterranean-like dietary pattern with vitamin D3 (10μl/day) supplements reduced rate of bone loss in older Europeans with osteoporosis at baseline: results of a one year randomised controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , (2018).
- Image retrieved from: https://www.pexels.com/photo/bowl-of-vegetable-salad-and-fruits-936611/