Diet-MediterraneanExerciseObesitySmoking Cessation

Benefits of healthy living and the Mediterranean diet

Researchers at Maastricht University Medical Centre, in the Netherlands, looked for an association with total mortality and premature death.

First, the details.

  • In 1986, 120,852 men and women provided information on dietary and other lifestyle habits.
  • They were followed until 1996.
  • A “healthy lifestyle” score (0 to 4 points: least healthy to healthiest), comprised 4 factors:
    • Not smoking
    • Being physically active for at least 30 minutes a day
    • Having a healthy body weight (BMI between 18.5 and 25)
    • Adhering to a Mediterranean diet (high intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes such as beans, nuts, whole grains, fish, monounsaturated instead of saturated fat, and low intakes of meat and limiting alcohol to 0.5 to 2 glasses a day)

And, the results.

  • Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was significantly related to lower mortality in women but not in men.
  • Following the healthiest lifestyle was significantly associated with lower mortality in women and men vs the least healthy lifestyle.
  • When the least-healthy to healthiest lifestyle scores were compared, the mortality rate advancement period (“aging effect”) was 15 years in women and 8 years in men.
  • The least healthy women had the same risk of death as the healthiest women who were 15 years older.
  • In men, this effect was 8 years.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Adherence to 4 modifiable healthy lifestyle factors can substantially reduce premature mortality in women and men.”

The benefits associated with healthy living are impressive.

8/4/11 21:18 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.