Tag Archives: Mediterranean Diet

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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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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Preserve Your Hippocampus With Exercise

MRI scan of brain

MRI scan of brain

The NYT’s Well blog has the details. The brain’s hippocampus is a critical center for memory. Alzheimers disease is associated with a gene called apo-E4. Carriers of that gene who exercise regularly have less shrinkage of the hippocampus than non-exercisers.

To PROVE that regular exercise prevents dementia-related shrinkage of the hippocampus, you’d have to force some folks to exercise and stop others who wanted to exercise. A couple years later, scan their brains and compare the two groups. That study may never be done.

The Mediterranean diet also seems to prevent or forestall dementia.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Is There a Single Healthiest Diet?

Amby Burfoot has an article that asks, “what is the healthiest diet?”  for the general public. His answer comes from the Journal of Nutrition. Looks like there are four winners. Quoting Mr. Burfoot:

They differ slightly in the degree to which they favor, or disfavor, certain foods and food types, such as the following:

  • The Healthy Eating Index 2010: Considers low-fat dairy products a plus.
  • The Alternative Healthy Eating Index 2010: Considers nuts/legumes a plus, as well as moderate alcohol consumption. Trans fats, sugary beverages, salt, and red meat get a minus.
  • The Alternate Mediterranean Diet: Considers fish, nuts/legumes, and moderate alcohol a plus; red meat, a minus.
  • The DASH Diet: Considers low-fat dairy and nuts/legumes a plus; sugary beverages, salt, and red meat get a minus.

I think the Mediterranean diet has the most and best data to support it.

Steve Parker, M.D.

 

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Preserve Your Brain Function Despite Aging

There are ways of slowing or reversing losses in cognitive function. The most effective discovered so far is physical exercise, which protects the brain by protecting the body’s cardiovascular health. Mental exercise, often called brain training, is widely promoted, but it boosts only the particular skill that is practised – its narrow impact mirroring that of educational interventions at other ages. Various drugs are being investigated for their value in staving off normal cognitive decline, but for now preventive maintenance is still the best bet – avoid smoking, drinking to excess, head injuries and the like.

MRI scan of brain

MRI scan of brain

The quote above is from an Instant Expert paper on intelligence. It’s full of interesting facts such as the typical difference in IQ between strangers is 17 points. It answers the question whether an enriched school or home environment can increase intelligence.

Also, for preserving brain function, I think the Mediterranean diet helps, but it’s difficult to prove.

On a different note, the article mentions overload of patients’ brains when medical care is too complicated:

Given the complexity of self-care regimes, it is hardly surprising that some people make dangerous errors or fail to comply. The effective management of diabetes, for example, requires a person to keep blood sugar levels within a healthy range, which means coordinating diet, exercise and medication throughout the day, which in turn requires planning for contingencies, recognising when blood sugar is veering too high or low, knowing how to regain control and conceptualising the imperceptible but cumulative damage caused by failing to maintain control. There is no set recipe for people with diabetes to follow – their bodies and circumstances differ. Moreover, they get little training, virtually no supervision and no days off. Effectively managing your diabetes is a cognitively complex job and poor performance has serious consequences, including emergency room visits, lost limbs or eyesight, and even death. The lower the diabetic person’s IQ, the greater the risks.

You’ll also learn about the Flynn effect and possible explanations for it:

Over the past century, each successive generation has answered more IQ test items correctly than the last, the rise being equivalent to around 3 IQ points per decade in developed nations. This is dubbed the “Flynn effect” after the political scientist James Flynn, who most thoroughly documented it. Are humans getting smarter, and if so, why? 

I’m more inclined to think Idiocracy describes our future.

Steve Parker, M.D.

h/t James Fulford

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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

Another Study Finds the Mediterranean Diet Preserves Brain Function During Aging

Well, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. Preserved brain function and the Mediterranean diet were  positively associated in a study involving Americans in Utah. This fits with prior observations that the Mediterranean diet prevents dementia.

In the study at hand, the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) also protected the brain:

Higher levels of compliance with both the DASH and Mediterranean dietary patterns were associated with consistently higher levels of cognitive function in elderly men and women over an 11-y period. Whole grains and nuts and legumes were positively associated with higher cognitive functions and may be core neuroprotective foods common to various healthy plant-centered diets around the globe.

See the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition for details.

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