Background: Aging is associated with low-grade elevation of circulating inflammatory markers, leading to increased risk of morbidity and mortality. The Mediterranean diet has been suggested as a determinant of longevity. In the current study, we investigated the impact of the Mediterranean diet on inflammatory status in old subjects.
Methods: Within the ZINCAGE study, 957 healthy old subjects (>or=60 years old) from five European countries were recruited. Plasma interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, monocyte chemoattractant protein, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) were measured. Dietary data were collected applying a food frequency questionnaire and were used to estimate adherence to the Mediterranean diet.
Results: The Italians presented the greatest adherence to the Mediterranean diet, while the Polish the poorest. In females, higher diet score was significantly associated with lower body mass index and ESR and higher HDL-C levels (beta=-0.127, p=0.003; beta=-0.144, p=0.001; beta=0.144, p=0.029, respectively). In males, diet score was negatively associated with IL-8 levels (beta=-0.101, p=0.044). The Mediterranean diet was associated with reduced IL-8 concentrations in Greeks (beta=-0.213, p=0.007).
Conclusions: There were significant effects of the components of the Mediterranean diet on inflammation markers. The Mediterranean diet score is useful in assessing nutritional influence on immune status.