Nutrition and health during mid-life: searching for solutions and meeting challenges for the aging population

Climacteric. 2013 Aug:16 Suppl 1:85-95. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2013.802884.


Interactions between genetic (genome) and environmental factors (epigenome) operate during a person's entire lifespan. The aging process is associated with several cellular and organic functional alterations that, at the end, cause multi-organic cell failure. Epigenetic mechanisms of aging are modifiable by appropriate preventive actions mediated by sirtuins, caloric input, diet components, adipose tissue-related inflammatory reactions, and physical activity. The Mediterranean lifestyle has been for many millennia a daily habit for people in Western civilizations living around the Mediterranean sea who worked intensively and survived with very few seasonal foods. A high adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with low mortality (higher longevity) and reduced risk of developing chronic diseases, including cancer, the metabolic syndrome, depression and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Reports indicate that some dietary components, such as olive oil, antioxidants, omega-3 and -6 polyunsaturated acids, polyphenols and flavonoids, mediate beneficial anti-aging effects (anti-chronic diseases and increased longevity). Equally, physical activity displays a positive effect, producing caloric consumption and regulation of adipose and pancreatic function. The predictive strength of some food patterns may be a way of developing recommendations for food and health policies. This paper will discuss several ways of improving health during mid-life, focusing on certain groups of functional foods and healthy habits which may reduce or prevent age-related chronic diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants
  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Mediterranean
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Flavonoids
  • Health Promotion*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Life Style
  • Longevity / genetics
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Male
  • Menopause
  • Middle Aged
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils
  • United States


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils