Mediterranean Diet Health Benefits
If someone mentions the Mediterranean diet to you, what do you imagine? Do you imagine people living in the beautiful Mediterranean eating delicious healthy foods every day?
It’s easy to think how great that would be, and it’s not far from the truth!
For those who don’t live in the Mediterranean, the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ gained popular awareness back in the sixties. It was about the time when people were becoming aware of the health and longevity of inhabitants from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
These people, who essentially followed what we now call the Mediterranean diet, were recording very low case numbers of cardiovascular diseases, while equally having one of the highest life expectancy rates.
They are both good reasons as to why it has become a very popular diet.
If you’d like additional information on this lifestyle diet including recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then get the FREE download: The Mediterranean Diet For Health Eating & Weight Loss.
The Mediterranean Diet for Improved Health
The Mediterranean diet consists mostly of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, olive oil, beans, seeds, fish, and fish oil. It does include moderate to small amounts of dairy and minimal eating of red meat.
Its powerful health benefits are not purely due to the ideal foods that are included in the diet. It also includes holistic healthy lifestyle practices, which provides overall wellness – physically, mentally, and spiritually.
This includes lots of physical activity, sharing time with family and friends, practicing self-care, and even drinking a glass of red wine. These are all aspects of the Mediterranean lifestyle.
The Mediterranean diet remains one of the healthiest diets recognized in the world today. You just have to Google to see how it has been cited for its “host of health benefits” including diabetes prevention and management, cancer prevention, cardiovascular health benefits, stroke prevention, and weight management.
There are so many health benefits to the Mediterranean diet. It is recognized for improving physical health, mental health, longevity, and is used by many for weight loss.
The foods you eat help keep your hunger at bay, which helps you manage weight better. With the absence of processed meats and sugary foods, weight loss is much easier to achieve.
A great benefit when following the Mediterranean diet is there is plenty of room for flexibility. You may choose your diet to be low-carb or low-protein. Others prefer to be somewhere in between because it is easier for them to follow.
The focus is more on eating foods containing healthy fats while keeping simple carbohydrate consumption low. There are still plenty of carbs, but these are healthy, plant-based carbs. Protein sources are not limited to animal meat.
Proteins are also sourced from plant-based foods. The allowed inclusion of seafood and dairy products can make this diet totally irresistible to many people. You won’t feel deprived at all, so you are less likely to crave unhealthy treats.
The ideal is to only consume grass-fed and free-range meats. Red meat is not excluded, but it is not an everyday inclusion. Healthy, unprocessed meat provides protein and healthy fats that help you feel full and satisfied.
This is a huge part of the attraction of the Mediterranean diet – you don’t feel like you are on a diet. It is more of a healthy eating lifestyle that adds to your enjoyment of life, rather than making you feel deprived.
Of course, this helps greatly with weight management. The absence of processed meat will help you regulate your blood sugar levels, energy levels, and mood.
As stated, the Mediterranean diet is touted to be one of the healthiest diets due to its known positive health benefits. Here are some of them.
FREE download: The Mediterranean Diet For Health Eating & Weight Loss
Type 2 Diabetes Prevention or Treatment
A lifestyle disease, the ‘cure’ for Type 2 diabetes is prevention. ‘Lifestyle disease’ means that how a person lives their life is the major contributor to the disease. It also means that making healthier lifestyle choices is how you prevent falling victim to the disease.
The major lifestyle factors that contribute to Type 2 diabetes are diet and exercise. Adhering to the Mediterranean diet as a lifestyle choice, combined with regular exercise would drastically reduce the likelihood of contracting Type 2 diabetes or many other so-called lifestyle diseases.
The development of type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly more common, so why not change to a more healthy lifestyle to protect yourself?
We all know that prevention is better than cure, but for those already diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, better dietary choices can have a huge effect on the severity of experienced symptoms.
The anti-inflammatory benefits of the Mediterranean diet make it an ideal diet for anyone with diabetes. The diet helps to regulate insulin levels. Adhering to whole foods makes it helpful in controlling blood sugar levels.
The Mediterranean diet generally consists of at least 30% healthy fats, 40% complex carbohydrates, and at least 20% protein. (The other 10% can be split across these macronutrients.) With this ratio of nutrients eaten daily, the body will find it easier to achieve healthy homeostasis.
‘Homeostasis is any self-regulating process by which an organism tends to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are best for its survival. If homeostasis is successful, life continues; if it’s unsuccessful, it results in a disaster or death of the organism.’ (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)
A Mediterranean diet has been linked to reducing the risks of developing cancer. This is because it helps an individual achieve a balanced ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
In addition, this diet increases a person’s consumption of fiber, polyphenols, and antioxidants. Plant-based foods contain a range of essential nutrients that help to prevent cancer. They help protect the body from DNA damage, stop cell mutation, suppress tumor growth, and reduce inflammation.
Many health advocates also swear by the consumption of olive oil as being an ingredient to cancer prevention. Olive oil is a healthy fat source and helps reduce the risk of developing many cancers, such as bowel and colon cancer.
This diet is also associated with cancer prevention because it helps reduce inflammation and oxidative damage. Reduced levels of oxidative stress are just one benefit from olive oil that helps keep cancer at bay.
Fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains, which are all important components of this diet, help reduce inflammation in the body.
The right diet is key in decreasing the body’s inflammatory responses which are considered to be a major factor in the pathology of cancer.
Cardiovascular Health Benefits
A Mediterranean diet provides you with plenty of omega 3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. These nutrients are excellent for keeping the heart healthy. The frequent use of olive oil, which is rich in ALA or alpha-linolenic acid helps lower hypertension.
The Mediterranean diet is also known for its benefits to brain health. It helps to slow down cognitive decline, which in turn lowers a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other related or similar brain disorders.
There are many studies showing how following the Mediterranean diet can lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
One reason why the Mediterranean diet is beneficial for cognitive health is the consumption of foods that contain healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts.
The inclusion of probiotic foods such as Greek yogurt greatly contributes to improved gut health which is also crucial for brain health (the gut-brain connection.)
A whole range of foods in the Mediterranean diet have brain-boosting nutrients and they help combat a decline in cognitive health. Too often this decline is simplistically attributed to aging, without consideration of the dietary inputs the person has had over their life.
Adherence to the Mediterranean diet will bolster cognitive ability during later years, making for a richer, more fulfilling, and happier life experience.
Weight Loss and Weight Management
Not only is the Mediterranean diet full of health benefits, as shown above, but it is also one of the healthiest diets for people who intend to lose weight. This diet does not focus on calorie counting or restrictions, which is not a successful long-term weight loss method.
As this diet is not as restrictive as most weight-loss diets are known to be, the Mediterranean diet is a far more sustainable diet for a healthier lifestyle. It is not only flexible but is flavorful and healthy.
Native Mediterranean residents didn’t count their portions, and they didn’t gain weight because they ate healthy food and incorporated regular physical activities into their lifestyle.
In sum, people living the traditional Mediterranean lifestyle ate their food with family members and with enjoyment and passion! It just goes to prove how you can eat well and not gain weight if the foods are healthy. This healthy eating pattern and eating meals with families have likely led to less binge eating, too. They shared their meals and laughed and played.
Now, if an overall healthy lifestyle like that could be applied to your own, wouldn’t that be good for you? If so, the Mediterranean diet may be just the answer you are looking for. You will be able to enjoy the same health benefits, such as losing weight or maintaining your desired level, boosting your brain health, and keeping your body healthy so you can enjoy your long life.
If you’d like support integrating a Mediterranean diet into your lifestyle, book a FREE 20-minute consultation. I’ll work with you to clarify your vision and plan for a successful outcome. Along the way, I’ll be there to encourage your efforts, to celebrate your progress, and to troubleshoot your breakdowns. Read testimonials from satisfied clients.