Dietary patterns, food groups and telomere length: a systematic review of current studies


Telomere length (TL) is recognized as a biomarker of aging and shorter telomeres are linked with shorter lifespan. Inter-individual variability in telomere length is highly heritable. However, there has been a resurgence of interest in the controversial relationship between diet and TL. Evaluating the impact of diet at the food group and dietary pattern level will provide greater insight into the effect of diet on TL dynamics, which are of significant importance in health and longevity. This article reports the first systematic review of the relation between food groups, dietary patterns and TL in human populations based on PRISMA guidelines. Design: PubMed, Science Direct, The Cochrane Library and Google Scholar databases were electronically searched for all relevant studies, up to November 2015. Among the 17 included studies, 3 and 10 of them were regarding the effect of dietary patterns and various food groups on TL, respectively. Also, in 4 studies, both dietary patterns and different food groups were assessed in relation to TL. Mediterranean dietary pattern was related to longer TL in 3 studies. Five studies indicated beneficial effect of fruits or vegetables on TL. In 7 studies, a reverse association between TL and intake of cereals, processed meat, and fats and oils was reported. Our systematic review supports the health benefits of adherence to Mediterranean diet on TL. Except for the fruits and vegetables, which showed positive association with TL, results were inconsistent for other dietary factors. Also, certain food categories including processed meat, cereals and sugar-sweetened beverages may be associated with shorter TLs. However, additional epidemiological evidence and clinical trials should be considered in future research in order to develop firm conclusions in this regard.

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We would like to thank the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences for their great cooperation in conducting this study. The gauarantor of this article is M Miraghajani.

Author contributions

NR, SG, FB, SMS and MM conceptualized and designed the study, and drafted the manuscript.

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Correspondence to M Miraghajani.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Rafie, N., Golpour Hamedani, S., Barak, F. et al. Dietary patterns, food groups and telomere length: a systematic review of current studies. Eur J Clin Nutr 71, 151–158 (2017).

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