Highlights of the Med Diet

Highlights of the Mediterranean diet – source Life Extension, Dec. 2021 Michael Ozner, MD

 In thousands of studies, the Med diet has been reported to be one of the best lifestyle strategies for extending longevity and avoiding the common disorders of aging, including heart disease and cancer.

In 1990s, the first Mediterranean Pyramid was created by a non-profit group called the Oldways Preservation Trust, in cooperation with the Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization. It was based on food patterns seen in  the Mediterranean island including Greece (especially the island of Crete and southern Italy in the 1960’s.

A clinical trial showed that those who adhered most closely to a traditional Med diet appeared less likely to suffer sudden cardiac death than those who at least had a better chance of healthy aging, defined as living to 70 years or older with no major physical or mental impairments. For more diet details, search this blog key words: Mediterranean Diet.

Components of the Med Diet to show proven health benefits:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

Omega-3 Fatty acids

 Vegetables and fruits

Whole Grains

Clinical trials and observational studies have found particularly strong evidence that the Med Diet protects the heart and lowers the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular death.

However, this diet pattern is beginning to show that the diet can reduce the risk for other chronic diseases associated with aging.

Metabolic Syndrome

A meta analysis of 50 studies including nearly 535 people found that following the Med Diet was associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms associated with heart disease that include:

  • Decreased HDL (“good cholesterol”)
  • Increased waist circumference
  • Increased blood pressure
  • High glucose levels
  • Increased triglyceride levels

Diabetes type 2

Another study of subjects with a high cardiovascular risk showed that a Med Diet compared to a low fat diet reduced the risk of developing diabetes type 2 by 52% .

Alzheimer’s Disease

In a study lasting four years, in patients showing no signs of dementia at baseline, greater adherence to the Med Diet was associated with a significant reduction in risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Cancer

In a meta-analysis of 83 studies that included 2, 130, 753 subjects, the highest adherence to a Med diet was associated with the lowest rates of many cancers, including colon, breast, stomach, liver, and prostate and a lowest risk of cancer mortality. The diet’s benefits were attributed to a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, i.e. a plant based diet.

 Longevity

Several studies have specifically shown that the Med Diet increases longevity.

One study analyzed the diets of 10,670 women in mid-life with a median age of 59 years. Greater adherence to the Med Diet was related to 46% greater odds of surviving to 70 years or older with no major impairments in physical function or mental health.

Another study of adults 65 and over also found that closer adherence to the Med Diet was associated with prolonged survival. Many components of the Med Diet including omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and polyphenols from fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation. Be sure and search Food, Facts, and Fads for diet and disease as well as the Mediterranean diet for more details about this powerful diet and its benefits.

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