Paper feature: the benefits of a Mediterranean diet

vegetable salad with wheat bread on the side
Photo by Dana Tentis on Pexels.com

This month I have been on holiday to the beautiful Balearic island of Ibiza. Other than the sun, crystal clear waters and iconic nightlife, one of the things I enjoyed the most whilst being away was the food – the Mediterranean diet. And so I wanted this month’s paper feature to be one that looks into the health benefits associated with this diet.

For those that have never heard of the Mediterranean diet before, it is derived from the traditional eating habits of the Southern-European countries bordering the Mediterranean sea. The diet consists of lots of fruit and veg, fish, bread and pasta, and little meat and dairy produce. Just scrolling through the scientific literature about the diet hints at the huge benefits it can have on our health, being heavily associated with a reduction in neurodegenerative disease, diabetes, liver disease, cardiovascular diseases and cancer risk and improving bone health.

In a review by Dr Sofi and team in Italy, they discuss the history of the Mediterranean diet and how it can influence human health. They state that in the late 1900’s, the importance of the diet was identified after a group of scientists noticed lower rates of death and disease in those countries bordering the Mediterranean sea. And since this discovery, many scientists all across the world have investigated the effects of the diet further.

Their paper is broken down into sections, outlining the main studies looking into the following: cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, diabetes and obesity…

  • Studies into cardiovascular disease have found that when patients that have previously suffered a heart attack and then followed a Mediterranean diet, they had a lot less incidence of heart problems afterwards and had an increased life expectancy over those who didn’t follow the diet.
  • Lots of observational studies of people sticking to a Mediterranean diet have also showed that there was a reduced incidence of obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in those people that stuck to the diet compared to those who didn’t.
  • Lastly, in those patients that were newly diagnosed with diabetes, a Mediterranean diet was found to greatly improve the management of the condition better than low-fat or reduced carbohydrate diets.

It seems that one of the biggest reasons a Mediterranean diet is beneficial to health is because of the consumption of healthy fats like olive oil, and the avoidance of processed food and unnatural sugars – an easy concept really.

If you are interested in reading more than there is loads of info out there, or you can read the paper here: https://iubmb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/biof.1096.

~Disclaimer: this post is purely for informational purposes only and is in no way a substitute for medical advice; always consult a medical professional for advice on health and well-being.~

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