Thu 2 November 2023
Spain News | The Mediterranean diet- Update!
The Mediterranean Diet - Not a diet at all!
Here at Jacaranda Spain, our business is real estate, buying and selling property in the Marina Alta. However, we are also happy to promote a lifestyle. After all, when you buy a new home, you are also investing in the rest of your life. We want to encourage our clients and friends to pursue a healthier lifestyle to achieve a longer, happier life.
Not for the first time, we find ourselves talking about the famous "Mediterranean Diet".
The "MedDiet" is not simply a programme of eating, it is a lifestyle. Research, over the years, has proven, without any room for doubt, that the Med Diet IS a healthier way to live.
The Mediterranean diet and lifestyle is defined by:
- Daily consumption of;
non refined cereals, whole grain bread, wholegrain pasta, brown rice, fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, low fat dairy products, olive oil, moderate alcohol intake, moderate consumption of fish, poultry, eggs, potatoes, consumption of marine omega 3 fatty acids in sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon, octopus etc.
- Low consumption of red meat. The new guidelines say MONTHLY consumption!
- Minimal processed foods, especially "ultra processed foods". - This is a whole other blog! Some processed foods are healthy eg. nut butters and even bagged salad count as processed. However, ultra processed foods are those that have many added preservatives, colourings, flavourings ie. they have been completely changed from their original form.
- Regular exercise and physical activity.
The combination of all of these things has enormous health benefits for:
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Metabolic syndrome.
It was not until the 1990´s that the Mediterranean diets' positive effect on health was recognized around the world. Despite the research and the obvious health implications the world population is fast moving towards a more western style of food consumption. Increasing numbers of people working from home and everything delivered to your door (thanks to the internet), means more and more people are living a largely, sedentary life. These factors combined, are having a disastrous effect on our health and well being.
The research into the benefits of the MedDiet, is ongoing and there have been updates on recent, clinical trial results. An article published in 2022, by the National Institutes of Health, in the USA, shows the increase in the number of studies undertaken into the MedDiet health benefits and a summary of the results. * Source https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9317652/
The main areas of study include the most representative groups of concern. These are Metabolic diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
The MedDiet and Metabolic diseases.
The modern inclination of high fat, calorific, processed food and a sedentary lifestyle means that there are alarming numbers of the world population who are overweight or obese. This gives rise to serious health issues like Type 2 Diabetes.
"In summary, the findings of these trials showed the beneficial effects of the MedDiet on metabolic disorders that could be mainly related to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Moreover, strict and long-lasting adherence to a MedDiet seems to be essential for its interventional improvements".
The MedDiet and Cardiovascular diseases.
Unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity cause high cholesterol and high blood pressure which can directly cause Cardio Vascular Diseases.
"The MedDiet’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative potential in CVD patients and its regulatory effect on fatty acids emerge from these studies. Further insights concern the beneficial impact on cardiovascular risk regardless of gender".
The MedDiet and Cancer.
Cancer is the second highest cause of death globally!
"Overall, these findings demonstrate the effectiveness of the MedDiet in regulating aspects that expose people to cancer risk, such as potential modulators of BRCA penetrance . Moreover, the beneficial impact of a healthy life approach in managing cancer symptoms in BC survivors who are overweight or obese also emerges in our examination. This is extremely encouraging, given that randomized controlled trial evidence is the gold standard for establishing the prognostic value of dietary factors. Finally, the effectiveness of OL and OC in CLL improvement also confirms the beneficial role of olive oil, the major component of the MedDiet, on cancer prevention."
If you are still sceptical of the alleged benefits of a MedDiet, the sheer numbers of medical trials that are being undertaken, should be enough to make you want to know more. The World Health Organisation and world governments fund these trials and there is increasing concern and a real urgency to make the public aware that there is a much healthier, alternative lifestyle.
"In summary, the studies’ findings disclose that the MedDiet’s beneficial effects could be primarily related to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. The effectiveness of this dietary pattern in controlling waist circumference and obesity seems to be another key aspect. Moreover, strict and long-lasting adherence to the MedDiet as well as the beneficial effects of specific components (e.g., olive oil or its polyphenols) seem to emerge as useful insights for interventional improvements. The synergic effect of the MedDiet and physical exercise has also been exanimated, mainly in cancer survivor patients. This is proof of the emerging evidence that addresses the MedDiet as a healthy lifestyle rather than a simple dietary pattern."
Living in the Marina Alta means that it is even easier to achieve these improvements to our lifestyle. The weather means we can get out in the sunshine, even if your goal is to increase your activity by a few thousand steps.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, grown locally, are plentiful and affordable and, the all important "liquid gold", (olive oil) is also more affordable as it is produced here in Spain.
It´s not easy to change the habits of a lifetime but, slowly replacing unhealthy choices with healthy ones, is a great place to start. Instead of chips try sweet potato chips. Instead of sitting down in front of the TV with your morning coffee, get out and walk to your local bar for one. Instead of a stroll, pick up the pace and speed walk until you are out of breath and your heart rate is up. Stop buying crisps and biscuits, they have no nutritional value. Small but significant changes to improve your physical health which, in turn, will benefit your mental health.