Thursday, March 29, 2007

The mediterranean diet

Description of the Mediterranean Diet

What are the key aspects of the Mediterranean
diet? Surprisingly, the Mediterranean diet
contains higher levels of fat intake than even the
typical western diet. However, the primary source
of fat in the Mediterranean diet is made up of
omega-3 essential fats and monounsaturated fats.
(These fats are found primarily in our vegetables,
nuts, legumes, and cold-water fish.) Both of these
fats have actually been shown to lower total
cholesterol along with LDL (bad cholesterol). In
fact, 20% to 30% of the calories in the
Mediterranean diet come from these fats, while
less than 10% of the calories come from saturated
fat. This group of foods contains almost no fat
from trans-fats.
The Mediterranean diet is loaded with fresh fruits,
fresh vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts
which contain the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants,
and fiber that are critical for optimal health. These
carbohydrates also contain the good fat and the
good protein. About 50 to 60% of the calories in
the Mediterranean diet come from these types of
carbohydrates. The diet contains a large intake of
olives and olive oil, but is low in red meat and
most dairy products, though low-fat cheese is
consumed frequently.

The Metabolic Syndrome

The metabolic syndrome is characterized by an
expanding waistline, increasing blood pressure,
poor lipid pattern, increased risk of heart disease
and diabetes. It is the underlying problem of the
obesity and diabetes epidemic that modern
civilization faces today. On top of that, people with
metabolic syndrome have increased inflammation
in their arteries along with dysfunction and
damage to the very fine lining of their blood
vessels, called the endothelium. Over 25% of the
population in the US and Canada already have
the metabolic syndrome and another 25% are well
on their way to developing it.

The lead study in last month’s JAMA investigated
180 patients who had the metabolic syndrome.
They divided these individuals into two groups.
One group was placed on the Mediterranean diet
and the other ate the typical American diet. Both
of these groups had similar activity levels and
received similar instruction on healthy living. They
followed these two groups closely over the next
two years.

After 2 years, the patients on the Mediterranean
diet were experiencing these results:
*Significant decrease in body weight
*Decreased waist circumference
*Decreased blood pressure
*Decreased fasting blood sugar
*Increased HDL (good cholesterol,)
*Decreased triglyceride level.

In fact, nearly half of this group actually reversed
their insulin resistance and their metabolic
syndrome. They also had a significant reduction
in the inflammation of their arteries and
improvement in the function of their endothelium.
Investigators obviously concluded that the
Mediterranean diet is a safe strategy for treating
metabolic syndrome and for reducing the
incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
without the use of drugs and the risks that come
with them. Doesn’t it make sense that
developing a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy
and delicious diet, should be our first-line therapy
for the treatment of the metabolic syndrome?

The other study investigated the effects of the
Mediterranean diet and lifestyle factors on
healthful aging. In the industrialized countries,
about 75% of deaths in individuals over the age of
65 are due to either cardiovascular disease or
cancer. Numerous studies show that diet and
lifestyles are directly linked to these degenerative
diseases, regardless of predisposing factors.
People in this 10-year study who ate a
Mediterranean-style diet, exercised moderately,
limited their alcohol intake, and did not smoke or
who had not smoked for at least 15 years, lived
longer, healthier lives. In fact, they had over a
50% decrease in deaths from all causes of death,
including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
These findings were true even in elderly subjects
who made these healthy lifestyle changes.

Use my username 'andrewwilmot' and password 'james'
Healthy for Life Newsletter
November 2004 Vol.1 No. 10

Read full article here.