Category Archives: Health Benefits

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

New Scientific Review: Mediterranean Diet Helps Control Diabetes and Reduce Heart Disease

Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes, Steve Parker MD

Olive oil and vinegar: prominent features of the Mediterranean diet

“The Mediterranean diet can be described as a dietary pattern characterized by the high consumption of plant-based foods, olive oil as the main source of fat, low-to-moderate consumption of fish, dairy products and poultry, low consumption of red and processed meat, and low-to-moderate consumption of wine with meals. The American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association recommend Mediterranean diet for improving glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes. Prospective studies show that higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with a 20-23 % reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while the results of randomized controlled trials show that Mediterranean diet reduces glycosylated hemoglobin levels by 0.30-0.47 %, and is also associated with a 28-30 % reduced risk for cardiovascular events.”

Source: Mediterranean diet for type 2 diabetes: cardiometabolic benefits. – PubMed – NCBI

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You Want Long Telomeres, Don’t You?

Judicious wine consumption is one component of the traditional healthy Mediterranean diet

Judicious wine consumption is one component of the traditional healthy Mediterranean diet

Telomeres are very trendy in the biomedical research community. Like kale and chia seeds with hipster foodies.

Telomeres are repetitive chains of amino acids attached to strands of your DNA. The longer your telomeres, the lower your risk of chronic disease and premature death, generally speaking.

The massive Nurses Health Study showed that women who ate a Mediterranean-style diet had the longer telomeres, which is good. That fits with other evidence of greater longevity and lower chronic disease rates in Mediterranean dieters.

Click for a brief pertinent article at NEJM Journal Watch, which includes a link to the original research report.

To lose weight with the Mediterranean diet, check out my book, Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes: The Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

 

PS: If you didn’t know chia pets have their own Wikipedia page, see my other books.

PPS: We don’t know if telomeres are longer in men eating Mediterranean-style

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Low-Fat Diet Loses to Mediterranean Diet in Heart Disease Prevention

The American Journal of Medicine has an article entitled “Diets to Prevent Coronary Heart Disease 1957- 2013: What Have We Learned?” The authors conclude:

The Mediterranean-style diet, with a focus on vegetables, fruit, fish, whole grains and olive oil, has proven to reduce cardiovascular events to a degree greater than low fat diets, and equal to or greater than the benefit observed in statin trials.

The only bone I’ll pick with that quote today is that folks with diabetes and prediabetes often have unacceptable blood sugar spikes when they eat whole grains. That’s one reason I designed the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Diabetes Complications, Grains, Health Benefits, Heart Disease, Mediterranean Diet