What is the Mediterranean Diet For Longevity?


Given the long and healthy lifestyle people in Mediterranean countries live, we should be doing all that we can to imitate them! The Mediterranean diet focuses on longevity by boosting compounds such as spermidine, which promotes autophagy in the body. Here is a brief guide to help you better understand the Mediterranean diet and why it can help you boost your longevity

What is a Mediterranean Style Diet?

As you may be able to gather from the name of the diet, the Mediterranean style diet is built around the dietary practices of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. This is because people in these countries tend to live longer, healthier lives, free of the chronic diseases that plague many Americans. Some of these areas along the Mediterranean even find themselves in the blue zone. What are the five blue zones?

  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Ogliastra Region, Sardinia
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica

The blue zone diet shares many similarities with the Mediterranean diet. Both place a focus on longevity by promoting autophagy in the body and both target foods with compounds such as spermidine

Rocky mountain side overlooking water in a Mediterranean area

Benefits Of This Lifestyle

The Mediterranean diet is more of a lifestyle than a diet. By promoting autophagy in the body, you greatly lower your chances of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancer. The diet extends far beyond the food you eat, as you are also expected to greatly limit your number of calories, the nutrients you eat, how often you eat and live a healthy lifestyle. 

We could spend all day talking about each and every individual benefit the Mediterranean diet offers. It can prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, reduce the chance of stroke and women, and ease depression. While there are many more, here are two of the major benefits, increased longevity, and weight loss. 


Studies have found that the Mediterranean diet has been linked to improved longevity. The main way that it achieves this is by greatly lowering your risk of death from all causes, coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular diseases, and diseases not due to cancer. These are some of the most common causes of death throughout the world and can oftentimes be attributed to lifestyle choices. 

The Mediterranean diet is a form of a longevity diet that focuses on promoting autophagy throughout the body. Autophagy is the body’s process of replacing older, damaged, dying cells with new cells. This process greatly reduces the effects of aging and can help you live a longer, healthier, happier life. 

Weight Loss

The number one question anybody asks before they begin a new diet: can you lose weight on the Mediterranean diet? The answer is yes, but as long as you follow the diet and pair it with an active lifestyle. It can be easier to lose weight on a plant-based diet, such as the Mediterranean diet because it allows you to eat a higher volume of food for fewer calories. 

The diet also phases out processed foods in favor for more whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruit. Getting rid of the dangerous foods we eat will go a long way in improving our overall health. An added benefit, a plant-based diet can be more sustainable for the environment than a meat-based diet. 

What is the Mediterranean Diet Eating Plan?

When you’re planning your Mediterranean diet meals, you will need to heavily rely on olive oil, tomatoes, walnuts, chickpeas, arugula, lentils, and greek yogurt. These foods are plant-based and are high in protein, low in calories, and low in fat. Here is what a day on a Mediterranean diet plan may look like:

  • Breakfast - Greek yogurt topped with berries and a drizzle of honey
  • Snack - A small bowl of pistachios
  • Lunch - Tabouli salad with whole-grain pita
  • Snack - Hummus with dipping veggies
  • Dinner - Salmon with quinoa and sauteed garlicky greens

There are plenty of recipes for you to choose from, all healthy, nutritious, and delicious. On top of tasting great, these meals will aid your body in the anti-aging process. That’s because these foods are rich with spermidine, which helps promote autophagy throughout the body. 

Okinawa Diet vs Mediterranean Diet

As mentioned earlier, Okinawa is one of the five blue zones, areas where people live longer and healthier lives on average. While the Okinawa diet and the Mediterranean diet share many similarities they do share some differences. Here are some of the key differences between the two to help you better differentiate and decide which diet may work best for you:

  • Protein sources - The Mediterranean diet is high on omega-3 rich protein sources such as fish, shellfish, and other types of shellfish. Meanwhile, Okinawa diet recipes steer clear of fish in favor of plant-based sources such as vegetables, legumes, and tubers
  • Grains - Both diets are pro-carb, but the Okinawa diet is very low in refined carbohydrates. This means no white rice, bread, pasta, sweets, or baked goods. The Mediterranean diet allows for some simple carbs like grains, bread, and pasta
  • No calorie counting - Luckily for you, neither of these diets require vigorous calorie counting. The Okinawa diet follows the practice of hara hachi bu which means eating until you’re satisfied, not full. The Mediterranean diet does not emphasize tracking calories or macros

As you can see, outside of protein sources, both of these diets are very similar. If you are already very low-carb, you may want to consider the Okinawa diet. If you are a fan of seafood and other white meats, you may want to consider the Mediterranean diet. 

hummus, bean sprouts, cabbage, leafy vegetables in a bowl which are part of a healthy Mediterranean diet

How do You Get Started?

Just like any other diet, the first thing you should do is consult with your doctor to ensure the diet is safe for you. Next, you should follow some of these steps to get started with the diet to achieve maximum results:

  • Build a solid foundation of plant foods
  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Low amounts of poultry
  • Workout for at least 30 minutes every day
  • Drink red wine in moderation

Starting a new diet can always be difficult. Do not be afraid to ease your way into the diet so you can get your feet wet while avoiding burnout. Too often people charge full steam ahead into diets, leaving them burnt out after a few weeks. 

What do I Buy on a Mediterranean Diet? 

When stating, you will need to find some examples of Mediterranean food or a Mediterranean diet pyramid so you know what foods to get. Doing your research will help you build a diet that is both tasty and healthy. Here is a healthy food list to help get your grocery shopping started:

  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Wine
  • Fish
  • Cheese
  • Vegetables and fruits

These are the foods to eat to live longer and more importantly, live healthier. Nearly every Mediterranean diet recipe will include at least one of these ingredients. You should also purchase plenty of coffee grounds and a few bottles of red wine! 

What Foods Are Not Allowed on the Mediterranean Diet? 

Unlike many other longevity diets, the Mediterranean diet is more focused on adding healthy foods into your diet rather than restricting bad foods. This is part of the reason why this diet is so popular. However, that doesn’t mean that you can still eat whatever you want, whenever you want. Here are some of the foods you should try to avoid on the Mediterranean diet:

  • Red meat
  • Processed meats
  • Added sugars
  • Hard liquors
  • Refined grains like white flour and white rice
  • Butter

This isn’t to say that you can never enjoy these foods again. Rather, you should try to limit your consumption of these foods. Rather than eating processed meats every other day, limit your consumption to once a week or maybe even once or twice a month. Quitting these foods cold turkey can lead to burnout so don’t be ashamed of taking your time. 

How Does The Mediterranean Diet Cause Autophagy?

There are three different ways that you can trigger autophagy in your body. We’ll go into further detail about these three ways in a bit. As far as the Mediterranean diet is concerned, the lack of certain nutrients and the low number of calories consumed can help cause autophagy. Here are some of the benefits of autophagy and why it’s so important:

  • Provides cells with molecular building blocks and energy
  • Clears damaged endoplasmic reticulum
  • Helps prevent damage to healthy tissues
  • May prevent cancer
  • Recycles damaged organelles and proteins
  • Protects against heart disease

If you are wanting to increase your longevity, your number one focus should be promoting autophagy in your body. 

What Triggers Autophagy?

As mentioned earlier, there are three ways you can trigger autophagy. The Mediterranean diet creates a pathway for you to achieve all three of these. Here is how to induce autophagy:

  • A lack of nutrients - A lack of nitrogen, glucose, amino acids, and zinc have been shown to initiate non-selective autophagy
  • Limited calories - A calorie restriction can cause energy stress and endoplasmic reticulum stress, which can induce autophagy
  • Fasting - Fasting leaves the body low on sugar, initiating autophagy

You can also trigger autophagy by increasing the amount of spermidine you consume. Foods like potatoes, soybeans, peas, chicken, and lentil soup are rich in spermidine.  

Spermidine Causes Autophagy In The Body

The best way to promote autophagy in the body is by pairing a diet such as the Mediterranean diet with a regular dosage of supplements. These supplements help ensure you’re getting the minerals and vitamins you need to promote autophagy. Spermidine capsules are a great way to boost autophagy in your body.

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  • Don Moxley - Director of Applied Science

    Don Moxley is the Director of Applied Science at Longevity Labs. Moxley draws upon his career as an athlete, a sports scientist, and an instructor to lead and educate on the science of autophagy and longevity.