February 11, 2014

Salutogenesis Factor #3 -- Mediterranean Diet

Working on this blog for over four years, I've read many studies about dealing with diseases, including my two: Parkinson's and prostate cancer. Those findings invariably suggest that there are TWO things within our power to prevent, treat, even cure those diseases: diet and exercise. I'll talk about diet today and exercise tomorrow.

The media health gurus pitch one new diet fad after another. Even respected medical authorities sometimes recommend diets that require following formulas that require tracking fats, proteins, carbohydrates, etc. I could never do that.

I'm pleased about the emerging consensus: what's best for us is the Mediterranean diet. This regimen focuses on increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pasta and fish, eating products made from vegetable and plant oils, and eating less meat.

I have a folder full of clippings reporting the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Here are just a few:
  • A Mediterranean-style diet reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiac death by about 30 percent in people at high risk, according to a study published last April in the New England Journal of Medicine. 
  • Adherence to a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of stroke, depression, cognitive impairment and Parkinson's, particularly for males, a group of Greek researchers concluded after reviewing 22 studies.
  • The battle against dementia should focus on the benefits of a Mediterranean diet rather than "dubious" benefits of drugs, according to an open letter sent by leading doctors in Great Britain to the Health Secretary based on a 34-year study, the longest of its kind. The doctors added that the diet -- unlike drugs -- carries has no side effects.
One of the doctors, cardiologist Aseem Malhotra, said: 
The evidence basis for the Mediterranean diet in preventing all of the chronic diseases plaguing the western world is overwhelming. This includes cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's and cancer.
Just released is a new study published this month finding more evidence that people who adopt a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of heart attack and cardiovascular-related death than those who follow strict low-fat or low-cholesterol diets.

The study notes that the American Heart Association had recommended keeping fat intake below 30% of daily calories, saturated fat below 10%, and keeping cholesterol under 300mg daily. I'm not willing to do the math.

Mediterranean Diet and Me
All of these endorsements for the Mediterranean diet fit right in with my favorite slogans - easy does it, less is more, and K.I.S.S. I'm not a cook; I can barely heat something in the microwave. But I'm eating a healthy Mediterranean diet thanks to Figs, a Lebanese restaurant and carryout just five minutes from my house.

All I need to do is walk in . . .



. . . go to the display case and pick out three of four freshly prepared items for carryout . . .


. . . once home, ladling out the food. Here, I'm enjoying beet salad, orzo pilaf and stewed spinach:


Then I add my signature gourmet touch -- a spoonful of Trader Joe's corn chile on top to jazz it  up a little:


BINGO! A healthy meal with no effort or culinary skill. Three cheers for the Mediterranean diet and Figs.

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