Tag Archives: blood sugars

Mediterranean Diet – the best diet to follow?

I love doing media work and this was especially fun as the radio crew came to me! We broadcast my part live from my lounge. Have a listen:

 

So normally I am not pro diets. However there is always an exception and this is it. The Mediterranean diet is the way I try to eat and drink. I prefer to call it an eating plan or a lifestyle rather than a diet. It is one of those diets that is good for your overall health and could have a great protective and preventative effect on chronic disease such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

There is some really good research on this way of eating. Large scale randomised trials conducted over a number of years with deent follow up. This is what we like. So the evidence shows that the Mediterranean diet definiately has good implicaitons for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For overall health it is a very good way to be eating.

The PREDIMED study followed 7447 people aged 55-80yrs  who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), for 5 years. They were randomised to:

  • Mediterranean diet with 1 litre of olive oil a week
  • Mediterranean diet with 30g/d nuts 
  • Low fat control group

The data has been analysed in a number of different studies. Here is my short summary.

Dietitian UK: Meditteranean diet olive-oil-1596417_1280

Cardiovascular Disease:

Estruch et al (2013) found the Mediterranean groups had a 

  • 30% reduction in the risk of death from CVD 
  • 39% reduction in stroke
  • These results were only significant in men and less than expected but still show the benefits of the Med diet for heart diease.

Metabolic Syndrome:

Salas-Salvado et al (2008) looked at the data from 1224 people after 1 year of the diet. 61.4% of people at the start had Metabolic syndrome (abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, raised blood sugar levels and blood lipid levels) and found:

  • 6.7% reduction in metabolic syndrome in the olive oil group
  • 13.7% reduction in the nuts group, which was statiscally significant. So a Med diet with nuts may have reveress metabolic syndrome.

Cholesterol:

Monteserrat et al (2007) looked at 372 of the subjects at the 3 month marker and found the levels of LDL cholesterol reduced in the Mediterranean diet groups. The high levels of antioxidants in the diet was concluded to the be cause of this. Olive oil, nuts, fruit, vegetables and legume intake was all increased in the Meditteranean diet groups and all these foods contain antioxidants.

Blood Sugars:

Blood sugars were looked at in 772 people at 3 months bu Estruch et al (2006). They found in the Med groups:

  • Blood sugars reduced
  • Systolic blood pressure reduced
  • Total:HDL cholesterol reduced
  • C reactive protein reduced (a marker of inflammation).

Looking at type 2 diabetes, Salas-Salvado (2011) found the risk was overall reduced by 52% in those on the Med diets. Only 10-11% of people on the Mediterrrean diets developed type 2 diabetes compared to 17.9% in the control group.

 

Lyon Heart Study:

The Lyon Heart Study is another good quality piece of research. 605 middle aged subjects who had already had a heart attack were followed for 4 years and were randomised to either:

  • Mediterranean diet with an omega-3 rich margarine
  • Western style diet

The results showed:

  • 72% reduction in death from heart disease
  • a reduced rate of recurrance of heart attacks

 

Weight Loss:

  • Esposito et al (2008) followed 180 patients with metabolic syndrome for 2.5 yrs. They were put on the Mediterranean diet or a low fat diet. At the end the Mediterranean group had lost more weight at 4.0kg compared to just 1.2kg in the low fat group. The Mediterranean diet group also had reduced the occurance of metabolic syndrome with only 44% of people still having it.
  • Shai et al (2008) looked at 322 obese people, putting them on a:
    • Low fat calorie controlled diet – weight loss of 2.9kg
    • Mediterranean calorie controlled diet – weight loss of 4.4kg
    • low carbohydrate diet that was not calorie controlled – weight loss of 4.7kg

So a Mediterranean diet may help with weight loss too. Here is a post on the Mediterranean diet explaining what it is and what foods to eat more of.

Taken with permission from: http://dietamediterranea.com/dietamed/piramide_INGLES.pdf
Taken with permission from: http://dietamediterranea.com/dietamed/piramide_INGLES.pdf

Other Sources:

Authority Nutrition: 5 studies on the Meditteranean Diet: Does it really work?

PENNutrition

Carbohydrates, the Good Guys.

Carbohydrates are often seen as the baddies of the nutrition world. There are so many low carb diets out there and lots of claims about carbohydrates being the reason people can’t lose weight.

 

Carbohydrates are actually the bodies favoured energy source. Given a choice of protein, fat and carbohydrate the body will always choose to use the carbohydrate first. Why? Because carbohydrate foods easily break down to simple sugars that are the fuel the body needs. Proteins and fats needs to be converted to sugars in order to be used, a time consuming process that uses energy up. However you will put on weight if you OVEREAT carbohydrates or eat too much of the wrong kinds.

 

So where do these anti-carbohydrate claims come from? 

After we eat carbohydrates, blood sugar levels increase and insulin is released. Insulin moves the sugar in the blood into the bodies cells and it will be used as fuel or stored as glycogen to be used later on. Eating too much carbohydrate in one go or more white, processed carbohydrates cause a larger, rapid peak in blood sugar levels. In response lots of insulin is released, which can cause a problem. After the insulin has done it’s job it takes a while to drop back down to normal levels, so you have insulin in the blood stream asking the body for more sugar. It’s this lag phase that can lead to you craving sugary food or wanting to eat a short while after a meal.  If you eat like this you are likely to put on weight. Those hunger cravings will get the better of you and you’ll eat more than you need.

 

What happens if you avoid Carbs:

If carbs are the bodies preferred energy source then it makes sense that avoiding them can lead to you feeling tired, grumpy, lethargic, perhaps dizzy and shaky. Ever had that energy slump after skipping a meal?

 

How to eat Carbohydrates without gaining weight:

  1. Eat carbohydrates at every meal. Just watch your portion size. If you are trying to lose weight keep those carbs to 1/3 of your plate, steer clear of adding creamy sauces, butter and oils to them.
  2. Go Wholegrain. Wholegrains have been shown to protect against cancer, obesity, diabetes and obesity. Choose wholemeal, granary or multi-grain bread, whole oats, weetabix, shredded wheat, bran flakes, rye bread, oatcakes,brown rice and pasta, bulgar wheat, quinoa, pearl barley and anything with the word whole/wholegrain in from of it!
  3. Lower the glycaemic index of meals. Adding lower GI foods (many of which are wholegrains too) will help stabilise your blood sugars, preventing the peaks and dips that can cause those sugar cravings. Also try adding beans and pulses to your main meals.

This post was written for Slimsticks and can be seen on their website here.