Tag Archives: Mediterranean diet

Eating Mediterranean to beat the bills

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:

  1. What does the summary of the research say about the health benefits.
  2. How can I translate that into my everyday life.
  3. 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 WomenMen
Colon cancer

40%

44%

Stomach cancer

42%

29%

Lung cancer

25%

23%

Diabetes

28%

28%

Stroke

36%

9%

Prostrate cancer 

30%

Postmenopausal breast cancer

36%

 
coronary heart disease

4%

4%

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).

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

The Mediterranean Diet

A lot of people would like to live in the Mediterranean. The weather is warmer than the UK, the landscape goes from rugged, to rural to beautiful beaches and it often feels more relaxed. That relaxed, warm lifestyle also brings benefits for food. 

The Med diet is well researched and known to have benefits for major health conditions. It may help prevent heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, lower cholesterol  and prevent metabolic syndrome. Benefits can also be seen for Alzhiemers, dementia, depression and Parkinsons.

The Mediterranean diet is not really a diet but a way of life. Regular meals are a key component with meals being an occasion for sitting down and taking time to enjoy food and company. Eating regularly and slowly is something that can help with blood sugar control, weight management and IBS. 

Clinical trials have shown positive effects of this type of diet on reducing the risk of overall mortality, cardiovascular disease and also total cholesterol levels. A significant effect has been seen on cancer incidence and mortality too. The Med Diet has been shown to be more effective than a low fact diet for making long term changes in the risk factors for heart disease and inflammatory diseases. 

 

Summary of the Diet:

Low in saturated fats

Low in salt

Low in sugar

Moderate meat and dairy intake

Moderate fish consumption

Moderate alcohol intake alongside meals

High intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes and unrefined carbohydrates

 

I love this diagram of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.

 

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

 

Eat More:

Fruit and Vegetables – eat a variety and a range of colours to get a mixture of antioxidants and micronutrients.

Fish – at least twice a week, at least 1 portion should be oily (tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines).

Eat more beans and pulses. Try adding lentils to meat dishes, or make a vegetarian curry with beans. Falafels and hummous make great lunchtime options.

Wholegrains – for example oats, brown rice, wholemeal bread, couscous, bulghar wheat and plain popcorn.

Nuts and seeds once a day as a snack will provide healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, magnesium and are filling.

Include Olive oil.

Drink plenty of water.

 

 References:

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/tc/mediterranean-diet-topic-overview

http://dietamediterranea.com/dietamed/piramide_INGLES.pdf (2010 Fundacion Dieta Mediterrainea)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20810976

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21854893