Currently many researchers and doctors are in agreement that following a Mediterranean diet not only reduces the chances of being obese, but also prevents diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even Alzheimer’s, moreover it increases lifespan and reduces dependency on medication.
The ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’ has published a new study that found women who ate a Mediterranean diet in their 50’s and 60’s had a 40% higher chance of being disease free in their later decades, compared to women who did not.
The study began in the 80’s and assessed 10,670 women’s dietary habits and daily lifestyles via detailed surveys, which were completed every 2 years.
During the next 15 years the women were given a variety of assessments to test their memory and physical function (ability to move and be active). Researchers analysed the data to check which women had developed diseases that included cancer, lung and pulmonary disease and Parkinson’s.
According to a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health the study’s findings suggest “that a healthy diet can help improve multiple aspects of your health and your ability to function when you’re older”. The co-author of the paper was “surprised by the magnitude of the effects” that a simple Mediterranean diet could produce.
The diet originates from Greece, Spain and southern Italy. Unlike the familiar western diet that is high in animal fat and preservatives yet low in fruit and vegetables, Mediterranean’s have a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and much lower in fatty animal products and processed food. Having said this, the diet is in no way a restricted one; in fact variety is encouraged to ensure long term success.
The Mediterranean diet basis:
- Consume more vegetables, fresh fruit and whole grains
- Substitute red meat for fish and poultry, there are lots of fish to choose from
- Eat dairy sparingly and try to aim for low-fat options
- Avoid ready meals and highly processed foods (these have hidden salt content which contributes to high blood pressure)
- Don’t add salt to food, for flavour try herbs
- For snacking select fruit, dried fruit or nuts
- Have a glass of red wine with dinner (daily alcohol unit guideline; men=3-4 units women=2-3 units, a small 125ml glass of wine=1.5 units)
- Thirsty? Drink water, the odd tea or coffee is fine (we’re British after all)
In case you are not convinced how strongly health consultants feel about the overwhelming benefits of the Mediterranean diet 11 senior doctors have sent a mandate to Prime Minister
David Cameron requesting that the Mediterranean diet should be advised. Dr. Richard Hoffman, who was involved in the written letter to Cameron, said “The evidence base for the Mediterranean diet in preventing all of the chronic diseases that are plaguing the Western world is overwhelming”. Dr. Aseem Malhotra added; “We are not going to overcome the increasing burden of chronic diseases by prescribing more pills.”
Don’t think about the Mediterranean as a diet; think about it as a healthy lifestyle, a low fat high vitamin and mineral way of life that will benefit you now and in the future. But don’t ban yourself from the occasional treat or you will drive yourself mad and probably abandon the whole regime.