One thing I love about nutrition and dietetics is the conundrum that is complex science that usually translates down to simple health messages. The Mediterranean diet is a great example. The science behind how it all works on the body is long winded actions of polyphenols and antioxidants. However you don’t really need to worry about all of that. What we really want to know is:
- What does the summary of the research say about the health benefits.
- How can I translate that into my everyday life.
- What do I need to eat and how often.
A team from Ghent University analysed the research on the Med diet, looking at 8 meta analysis and 10 cohort studies, they founds some pretty huge results. If we convinced 2% of the UK to eat a more Mediterranean diet it could lead to a saving of £1 billion. Increase this to 10% of the population eating more plant foods, olive oil, soya, nuts and seed would potentially save £5 billion. Reductions through a decrease in hospital admissions, doctors bills and keeping people healthy to work more days a year. Isn’t it amazing that such simple changes can lead to such huge savings.
A summary of the research showed that a Med diet can:
- Reduce diabetes risk by 26%
- Lead to a 42% reduction in CHD in men and 25% in women
- 37% reduction in stroke
- 33% reduction in breast cancer
|Med diet reduces disease risk||Women||Men|
|Postmenopausal breast cancer|
|coronary heart disease|
Soya beans, soy products and tofu contain phyto-oestrogens. These are bioactive substances in plant foods that have naturally occurring oestrogen activity. Photo oestrogens have been widely studied and there is evidence they can help with menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats. Some bone sparing effects in osteoporosis and they may reduce the risk of certain cancers. They can reduce the risk of heart disease due to their cholesterol lowering effects. Eating more soy can displace the saturated fat intake from meat.
So the plan from this for you?
Eat more fruit and vegetables – aim for over 5 portions a day if you can and include soy products in your eating (25g a day = 1 portion).