Category Archives: Health Benefits

Modified Mediterranean Diet Fights Depression

 

Olive oil is a prominent source of fat in the Mediterranean diet

From Dr. Emily Deans at Psychology Today:

This year, finally, we have the SMILES trial, the very first dietary trial to look specifically at a dietary treatment in a depressed population in a mental health setting. Participants met criteria for depression and many were already being treated with standard therapy, meds, or both. The designers of this trial took the preponderance of observational and controlled data we already have for general and mental health and decided to train people using dietary advice, nutritional counseling, and motivational interviewing directed at eating a “modified Mediterranean diet” that combined the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Dietary Guidelines for Adults in Greece. They recommended eating whole grains, vegetables, fruit, legumes, unsweetened dairy, raw nuts, fish, chicken, eggs, red meat (up to three servings per week), and olive oil. Everyone in the study met criteria for a depressive disorder.

The experimental arm of subjects were instructed to reduce the intake of sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast food, processed meat, sugary drinks, and any alcohol beyond 1-2 glasses of wine with meals. There were seven hour long nutritional counseling sessions and a sample “food hamper” with some food and recipes. The control group had the same number of sessions in “social support,” which is a type of supportive therapy that is meant to mimic the time and interpersonal engagement of the experimental group without utilizing psychotherapeutic techniques.

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Despite the small size, the results were still statistically significant and better than anticipated. The dietary group had bigger reductions in depression scores at the end of 12 weeks. Remission of depression symptoms occurred in 32.3 percent of the diet group as opposed to 8 percent of the control group.

Source: A Dietary Treatment for Depression | Psychology Today

The Mediterranean diet…Is there anything it can’t do?

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Mediterranean Diet Could Prevent 20,000 Deaths Per Year in Britain

 

Italian seaside tangentially related to this post

Italian seaside tangentially related to this post

The Telegraph has the details:

“Some 20,000 lives could be saved each year if Britons switched to a Mediterranean diet, according to a new study.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) and Cambridge University followed nearly 24,000 people in the UK for up to 17 years to see how their diet affected the health of their heart.

They discovered that people who followed a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and olive oil lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 16 per cent. The researchers estimate that 12.5 per cent of cardiovascular deaths, such as heart attacks and strokes,  could be prevented if everyone switched to the Mediterranean diet. There are around 160,000 heart deaths each year so 20,000 deaths could be avoided just by eating more healthy foods.”

Source: Mediterranean diet could prevent 20,000 deaths in Britain each year 

I’ve been a proponent of the Mediterranean diet for over a decade. I’m not alone.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Health Benefits, Heart Disease, Longevity, Mediterranean Diet, Stroke, Uncategorized

Improve Your Quality of Life With the Mediterranean Diet

Not only overall quality of life, but reduced pain, disability, and depression symptoms.

Action Plan: Move your current way of eating more towards Mediterranean.

Source: Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with better quality of life: data from the Osteoarthritis Initiative

Improve your quality of life and lose excess weight with with the Advanced Mediterranean Diet.

Santorini, Greek seaside

Santorini, Greek seaside

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Mediterranean Diet With Extra Olive Oil May Prevent Breast Cancer

From my pantry...

From my larder…

A Mediterranean-style diet with supplemental extra-virgin olive oil seemed to reduce the incidence of breast cancer in a Spanish population. This is consistent with prior observational studies that link the Mediterranean diet with lower rates of breast and other cancers (colon, prostate, uterus, and melanoma).

The study population involved 4,000 women who were followed for five years. Thirty-five new cases of breast cancer occurred in this PREDIMED study sub-analysis.

The comparison diets were a reduced-fat diet and Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts.

This is a relatively small study, so results may not be entirely reliable.

Action Plan

If you’re a woman hoping to avoid breast cancer, consider the Mediterranean diet and be sure to eat plenty of extra-virgin olive oil. A good way to do this is to use home-made vinaigrettes.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Even if you think Spaniards are jovial, you won’t find any in my books.

Reference: Mediterranean diet and invasive breast cancer risk among women at high cardiovascular risk in the PREDIMED trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2015. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.4838

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Mediterranean Diet Fights Inflammation In Type 2 Diabetes

 

Santorini, Greek seaside

Santorini, Greek seaside

Blood markers of inflammation in our bodies are linked to higher rates of type 2 diabetes. One such marker is C-reactive protein: the higher the CRP, the greater the risk of T2 diabetes. Another inflammatory marker is adiponectin, a protein secreted by fat cells. Adiponectin levels are inversely related to ongoing inflammation: higher levels of adiponectin indicate lower levels of inflammation. Folks with higher adiponectin levels are at lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Italian researchers affiliated with the MEDITA clinical trial took 215 men and women with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes and randomized them to eat either a Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet. Hemoglobin A1c and inflammatory markers were followed for up to eight years. (I’m not sure, but I think these were relatively mild diabetics from the get-go, probably with HgbA1c under 7%.)

At the end of year one, CRP dropped by 37% and adiponectin rose by 43% in the Mediterranean diet group. In other words, inflammatory markers moved in a healthful direction.

Levels in the low-fat group were unchanged.

For individual Mediterranean dieters who were deemed diet failures (HgbA1c over 7%) at one year, CRP levels were higher and adiponectin levels were lower than their counterparts without diet failure.

Values were also measured two and four years after baseline, but results are not easy to summarize, and I don’t give too much credence to a diet modification purported to last that long. After six to 12 months of a new diet, most folks drift back to their usual way of eating.

Grapes are a time-honored component of the Mediterranean diet

Grapes are a time-honored component of the Mediterranean diet

Action Plan

If you have type 2 diabetes or want to avoid it, consider a Mediterranean-style diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Even if you think inflammation is important, you’ll find no shortage of chapters in my books.

Reference: Anti-inflammatory effect of Mediterranean diet in type 2 diabetes is durable: 8-year follow-up of a controlled trial. Diabetes Care, 2016. doi: 10.2337/dc15-2356

low-carb mediterranean diet

Front cover of book

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Stroke Drops to #5 Cause of Death in U.S.

For most of my medical career, stroke was the third leading cause of death in the U.S., behind heart disease and cancer. Just a few years ago, chronic lower respiratory tract disease surpassed stroke.

Stroke continues to fall in rank and fell recently to fifth place, overtaken by accidents (unintentional injuries).

Even non-fatal strokes can be devastating.

Reduce your risk of stroke by maintaining normal blood pressure, not smoking, exercise regularly, living at a healthy weight, limiting your alcohol consumption, don’t get diabetes, and limit your age to 55. It’s also important to seek medical attention if you have a TIA (transient ischemic attack).

I also think the Mediterranean diet helps.

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Front cover of book

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New research: Mediterranean diet linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and death

This tower is in Pisa, Italy

This tower is in Pisa, Italy

This won’t surprise you if you’ve been reading this blog for a while:

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, killing around 610,000 people annually. Heart attack affects around 735,000 Americans each year, while around 800,000 people are affected by stroke.

Adopting a healthy diet is considered key for reducing the risk of CVD, and numerous studies have suggested the Mediterranean diet fits the bill.

A study published in the European Heart Journal earlier this year, for example, found older adults who adhered to the Mediterranean diet were at lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death than those who followed a Western diet.”

Source: Mediterranean diet linked to reduced risk of CVD – Medical News Today

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