Medical scientists are beginning to realize that the Mediterranean Diet has numerous benefits. When I researched The Mediterranean Diet in Medscape, I immediately had 134 results.
There were 134 different articles, written by medical scientists describing benefits from: longer life, less diabetes, less hypertension, weight loss, less dementia, and on and on
These studies, in the main, were rigorous scientific studies, with large numbers of patients and control groups; i.e., patients who were not on the Mediterranean Diet.
LIST OF DISEASES:
- HEART DISEASE
- METABOLIC SYNDROME
- SHORT LIFE SPAN
It is rather obvious that a diet cannot cure all diseases, but the concept that food is medicine is taking hold in the Western World.
In China, for the last five thousand years, Chinese medicine has always equated food with medicine and most Chinese medicinal herbs are eaten with meals. The use of pills has only been used in Western Medicine in the last century. Pills are Curative, and not Preventive.
Western doctors prescribe pills mainly to cure diseases. Only recently have pills been prescribed to prevent disease; such as, reducing cholesterol levels and to control blood pressure.
It is much more efficacious to prescribe a diet that allows the body to maintain itself in a healthy state; rather than, to prescribe pills that prevent disastrous results from unnecessary illnesses.
DIET IS NOT ENOUGH
Although the Mediterranean diet has been described as beneficial for the disease states mentioned above, further research discloses that exercise is also invariably required as an adjunct to the diet.
Exercise need not be excessive. But, it should be routine; i.e., (that is) on a daily basis.
If we reflect on the evolution of humans, or any other animal, we can see that all animals evolved with the ability to, not only survive, but to live without disease.
Those individuals, of all species, that were genetically weak, would have perished over the millions of years of evolution. Each specie evolved to a high degree of near perfection in its genetic endowment.
Only humans, who could avoid animal predators, and who could also manipulate the environment, would devise methods of eating, drinking and behaving in manners that would harm themselves.
No animal eats or drinks to excess, nor smokes, nor ingests harmful chemicals. The human battle is mainly against itself.
As people evolved; however, in the Mediterranean Sea area, they developed a diet and way of life that produced the best results from their genetic make-up.
We remember that the Classical Greeks were of superb intelligence and creativity, and that their successors, the Romans, were so strong and healthy they conquered the entire civilized world of their era.
Part of the reason for this achievement, was the development of the Mediterranean Diet.
WHAT IS THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET?
Definitions of the Mediterranean Diet differed slightly amongst the various researchers.
Here are some examples:
LOWERS THE RISK FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
The Mediterranean diet features a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, and cereals; a high intake of unsaturated fatty acids, mostly in the form of olive oil; a low intake of saturated fatty acids; a moderately high intake of fish; a low to moderate intake of dairy products, mostly as cheese or yogurt; a low intake of meat or poultry; and finally, a regular but moderate amount of alcohol, usually wine, generally taken with meals.
REDUCED HYPERTENSION (HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE)
Clinical trials report lower BPs in vegetarians than in non-vegetarians and people with diets rich in minerals and fiber; however, vegetarian diets are not practical for most people. An alternative to a vegetarian diet is the Mediterranean diet.[34,35] Olive oil is the most important element in this diet, not only because it has several beneficial properties, but also because it encourages the consumption of large quantities of vegetables in the form of salads and equally large quantities of legumes in the form of cooked foods. This is perhaps the single most important difference between the Mediterranean diet and the new dietary guidelines proposed by the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at the United States Department of Agriculture. Other essential components of the Mediterranean diet are wheat, olives, grapes, and their various derivative products. This traditional diet may be thought of as having nine components: high consumption of olive oil, legumes, cereals, fruits, vegetables; moderate-to-high consumption of fish; moderate consumption of wine, dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), and beans; and a low consumption of meat and meat products. Alcohol is consumed in moderation and almost always during meals. This diet is low in saturated fat (less than 9% of energy), with total lipid intake ranging from <30% to >40% of energy from one area to another. Moreover, the ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fats is about 2:1, which is higher than in the usual diet in the United States.
The high content of vegetables, fresh fruits, and cereals, and the liberal use of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet guarantees an adequate intake of beta carotene, vitamin C, tocopherols, linolenic acid, various important minerals, and several possibly beneficial non-nutrient substances such as polyphenols and anthocyanins. The Mediterranean diet can be represented in the form of a triangle (pyramid), the base of which refers to foods which are to be consumed most frequently and the top to those to be consumed rarely, with the remaining foods occupying intermediate positions. Compared with the US Food Guide Pyramid from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Mediterranean diet includes less meat, less saturated fats, and more fruits and vegetables.
TYPICAL TYPES OF FOOD IN MED DIET
WHAT THE MED DIET IS NOT
It is not fried foods in the sense of batter encrusted meat or vegetables fried in high temperature oils or fats.
Kentucky Fried Chicken is a perfect example of what the Med Diet is not! Most super markets fry various meats, especially chicken, in this grotesque manner, and the idiots who eat this food see their weight jump up on a daily basis.
The use of oils, other than Olive Oil, is another condition that must be avoided.
Olive Oil is a Mono-unsaturated Oil. A mono-unsaturated oil works with the liver to reduce cholesterol and (bad cholesterol) and produceLow Density Lipoproteins High Density Lipoproteins, (good cholesterol.) This last fact is extremely important.
Low Density Lipoproteins produce disease in the arteries of the heart, brain and other vital organs, and High Density Lipoproteins prevent disease in these arteries.
MYTH OF HEATING OLIVE OIL
Many people believe that if you heat olive oil you change its chemistry. This is not true!
Olive oil remains a mono-unsaturated oil when heated for frying or cooking. It does not become a trans-fat or hydrogenated oil upon heating. What does change upon heating, is the notional value of the other foods being heated.
Although the Raw Food Diet has disadvantages in terms of flavor and the content of dangerous micro-organisms, it maintains the nutritional value of the food being eaten.
When using the Med Diet, it is advised that over heating of foods be avoided; not because of the Olive Oil, but because some nutritional value will be lost from escaping molecules as they go from the liquid to the gaseous state. Also, certain nutrients change their structure upon heating.
The use of Olive Oil increases the consumption of raw foods, such as green vegetables, which are used in salads. In addition to raw green veggies, fruit and nuts play a big part in the Med Diet.
Fruit has a small component of sugars in it (glucose and fructose) which makes the fruit attractive to eat. More importantly, it has a large component of fiber which changes during digestion to reduce cholesterol and other lipids.
However, no matter how we look at the Med Diet, we must conclude that there is another mechanism which produces all the benefits which we see and find in medical studies.
THE TELOMERE EFFECT
Telomeres are long strands of DNA that surround our genes. Their function is one of defense. They protect our genes from damage by mechanically preventing other molecules from coming close enough to chemically engage with our genes which would degrade the molecular shape of our genetic structure.
As our telomeres shorten, they permit the process of apoptosis, or death of the cell.
Telomeric shortening is the underlying process which produces all the phenomena which we associate with aging.
There are two ways to reduce the process of Telomeric shortening:
2. CALORIC RESTRICTION
Resveratrol is a molecule found in red wine and other fruits and vegetables. It is a naturally occurring molecule which protects telomeres from being shortened during the metabolism of nutrients. Exactly how this is done is not known at the moment.
We do know that Resveratrol is produced by plants when they are attacked by micro-organisms. This protection involves the protection of the plant telomeres.
In humans, it is theorized that Resveratrol protects telomeres as well. Evidence of Resveratrol protection against cancers as also been found in humans.
Caloric Restriction has been shown in innumerable studies to prolong the lifespan of many species. Most physicians presume that it prolongs the life of humans.
It is understood that although calories are restricted, the necessary nutrients required by living cells must be provided to the organism.
Thus, we have the following:
Calories are reduced to approximately one half the normal amount ingested by the animal. Nutrients, such as vitamins, essential lipids and proteins, etc., are provided.
When the essential nutrients are provided and the calories are restricted, instead of weakness we find a healthy animal that generally lives 50 percent longer than normal.
The mechanism of this added life span is not completely known, but it is theorized that the telomeres are not used up as rapidly as they normally are, and hence, the animal lives longer.
Both Resveratrol and Caloric Restriction protect the telomeres.
TELOMERES AND THE MED DIET
The Med Diet, in spite of its attractive and appealing presentation, is a diet that restricts calories!
Fruit, veggies, fish and wine are not high calorie foods. Fruit and veggies provide large quantities of fiber and reduce hunger, but the calories are sparse.
We therefore have a form of Caloric Restriction. In addition with red wine and fruit, we provide the consumer with Resveratrol.
In summary, the Med Diet provides the two proven means of increased lifespan and good health. Best of all, the Mediterranean Diet is pleasurable in it taste, appearance and ease of preparation.