As well as being a chance to kick back and relax, a long sunny break could lengthen your life, suggests new research. In even better news, along with sunshine, scientists have also linked red wine and oily fish to longevity. Let's cheers to that.

Stress and life's toils can alter the genes linked to ageing and life expectancy and now US-based researchers believe certain compounds can influence the genes for the better. Three of these compounds include omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish (mackerel, trout, herring, tuna, salmon, sardines, anchovies, etc), vitamin D from the sun and resveratrol found in red wine.

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Although this seems like great news to all sun worshippers, wine fans and those partial to oily fish, the scientists didn't explain to what extent or exactly how these compounds work with genes to fight against ageing. As well as red wine, sunshine and oily fish, some drugs, such as antidiabetics and oestrogen-like compounds also positively impacted certain genes.

The study used people and worms to identify hundreds of genes involved in stress and depression. They found a gene called ANK3 – known to play a role in psychiatric disorders – works harder with age. The study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry also found the anti-depressant mianserin extended the lifespan of worms and is thought to lower levels of the ANK3 gene.

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Dr Alexander Niculescu of Indiana University says, 'We were looking for genes that might be an interface between mood, stress and longevity. We have found a series of genes involved in mood disorders and stress disorders, which also seem to be involved in longevity. People subject to significant stress or mood disorders, such as people who committed suicide, had a shift in levels of these genes that would be associated with premature ageing and reduced longevity.'

The team believe genes could provide clues to biological age and help researchers in the pursuit of life-extending drugs.

Sunshine + wine + oily fish = The Mediterranean diet

Many studies indicate people who follow a Mediterranean diet are less likely to develop heart disease. In fact, an analysis of more than 1.5 million healthy adults demonstrated that following this diet was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality as well as overall mortality. It's also been linked to a reduced risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

Eat like a Greek:

- Primarily opt for plant-based foods, pile on the fruit and vegetables (around nine servings each day), whole grains, pulses, seeds and nuts

- Choose healthy fats such as olive oil instead of butter

- Flavour foods with herbs and spices instead of salt

- Share meals with others and take time to eat food

- Drink wine in moderation

- Eat red meat rarely, poultry in moderation and fish and seafood regularly


What do you think?