The Cretan or Mediterranean diet, has been the subject of scientific research for a number of years. Back in the Fifties, an American scientist called Ancel Keys documented how the good health enjoyed by Mediterranean populations was linked to their diet. It seems that people in these countries, especially Greece, enjoy better health – and consequently a longer life expectancy - as a result of their lifestyle.
Central to this lifestyle is a particularly well-balanced diet with an abundance of local produce. Such is the quality, variety and healthy nature of the Mediterranean diet that it was even included in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.
The Mediterranean diet is based on principles that are luckily quite easy to follow. Above all, it’s about eating mouth-watering dishes that contain a wide range of healthy foods, high in fibre, antioxidants, essential fatty acids and vitamins.
The traditional Mediterranean diet also includes a daily glass of red wine. Remember though that excessive alcohol intake is damaging to health – it should always be consumed in moderation.
Are you looking for dietary supplements to boost the effects of your eating plan?
In terms of fibre, choose a prebiotic composed of soluble fibre, such as Organic Acacia. You can also increase your antioxidant intake with a formulation high in catechins, polyphenols and glutathione (for example, AntiOxidant Synergy).
For essential fatty acids, we’d recommend stocking up on fish oil omega-3s with the formulation Super Omega 3. And as for vitamins, there’s no better solution than a course of multivitamins (for example, Daily 3®).
This is the most widely-documented benefit, and with good cause! High in the unsaturated fatty acids omega 3, 6 and 9, , this diet helps control the body’s lipid levels, balancing ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol, and reducing triglycerides… (1)
One study showed it could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 35% (2). It may also have a positive effect on blood pressure (3).
That the Mediterranean diet plays a role in protecting the cardiovascular system is unquestionable: studies show it clearly reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (4). These benefits are also useful for losing weight naturally.
In addition to its heart-health benefits, the Mediterranean diet may also reduce the unwelcome effects of aging, with research highlighting in particular the protective role it plays in the nervous system. The targets here are neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Positive effects on age-related cognitive impairment are also associated with the Mediterranean diet (5). A decline in mental faculties can be incapacitating and is the first step on the road to more serious neurological conditions.
Many scientists believe the Mediterranean diet to be a valuable cancer prevention tool, particularly for colorectal, prostate, oral and throat cancer.
It seems that following this diet carefully over the long term reduces the risk of cancer and associated mortality (6). The fibre, antioxidants and essential fatty acids abundant in typical Mediterranean foods are key among the constituents responsible for these benefits.
Several components of the Mediterranean diet (particularly its antioxidants) may also exert positive effects on mental health. Some studies suggest that it not only plays a preventive role in depression (7) but may relieve its symptoms too (8).
The Mediterranean diet also appears to promote good reproductive health in both men and women. Superior sperm quality (9) and improvements in the menstrual cycle have been observed in those following such a diet (10).
Similar observations have been made in the area of medically-assisted reproduction: it seems the Mediterranean diet may increase the chances of IVF success (11).
The simple answer is everyone! With a diet as healthy and balanced as this, any risk of deficiency is negligible.
What’s more, this isn’t really a ‘diet’ as such, because it’s easy to follow and the relevant foods are readily available. There are few forbidden foods, and it can be followed over the long-term, even by ‘foodies’.
Along with consuming the omega-3s, antioxidants and vitamins offered by this diet, it’s important to remember to take regular exercise too. And at the same time, why not benefit from the convivial nature of Mediterranean eating by making more of your meals communal, relaxed affairs with family and friends, and reducing your stress levels as much as possible … it’s a whole philosophy for life that’s excellent for health!
Note: If you want to enjoy all the benefits of the Mediterranean, a sun-soaked region if ever there was one, then focus more on life in the great outdoors and the benefits of natural light. As extra ‘insurance’ against deficiency, you could also supplement with vitamin D, the famous ‘sunshine vitamin’ (try, for example, Vitamin D3 5000 IU).
If you’re experiencing intense fatigue or looking paler than usual, you could well be suffering from anemia. But don’t panic – here, we explore the foods you should avoid and other options for fighting anemia.
Always tired and lacking in energy? Then you’re suffering from asthenia! But you can do something about it - simply follow our 7 tips to fight fatigue naturally.
While they represent only a tiny part our nutritional needs, micronutrients are central to vital functions. What do they do and where are they found?
The Japanese art of shinrin-yoku – which translates as forest bathing or sylvotherapy – is becoming increasingly popular. In this article, we explore its benefits, exercises and potential risks.
Exhaustion, pale skin, shortness of breath … could it be anemia? Read on for how to remedy this blood count abnormality which is much more common than you might think.
Based largely on Taoism, traditional Chinese medicine dates back more than 2500 years. Let’s take a look at its key principles and characteristic remedies.