The Mediterranean Diet Information – Longevity

Italian Diet

So, your eating style should be an easy choice but with over 40 diets available diet rivals may blur the facts surrounding a healthier food choice which is said to be the Mediterranean diet.

Unlike many modern tailored diets the Mediterranean diet (1940 – 1950) is regarded as an inspirational eating habit of Greece, Southern Italy, and Spain and this renowned healthy diet is said to include an array of food types including the Seven Species the seven plant-based agriculture products; wheat, barley, grapes, olives, dates, figs, and pomegranates. 

Associated with longevity the Mediterranean style of eating is said to be responsible for an extraordinarily high number of centenarians with more than 1 in 10 of the population of which 700 is over 100 years old in south-west Italy; “Acciaroli”.

Other facts -  the Mediterranean diet is linked to significantly lower diseases rates such as cancer, neurological, obesity, and heart problems.

Food for all – It is common knowledge that fruits and veg are considered strong contributors to a healthy diet and when we ingest them we can reduce our risk of diseases such as cancer and heart cardio issues and eyes problems such as cataracts as we draw on the benefits of this sun kiss bioactive foods rich in carotenoids, dietary fiber and a mountain of others health goodies!

The Mediterranean Diet - some useful information

FoodUseful Information
Vegetables (fresh)Such as dandelion, spinach, eggplant, cauliflower, fennel, artichokes and other non-starchy veggies
FruitsCentenarians - hydrating at any age is vital for optimum health the human body is said to be 65% water and a wide variation of tasty fruit juices are sure to stimulate your taste buds, boost collagen production for youthful skin (via Vitamins C).  Natural fruits juices can provide instant energy.

Good sources of high juicy fruits include; pineapple, orange and raspberries which is about 87% by weight and watermelon and strawberries contain a hefty 92% of its tasty liquids.  And while banana and papaya are less juicy these blood pressure friendly fruits are also high in electrolytes 425 potassium and 390 potassium respectively and works extremely well in rainbow fruit medley or fluffy creamy smoothie.

A fantastic addition to brighten-up any dining table!

NutsGreat source of both dietary fat and fibre - both mono and polyunsaturated fat and dietary fiber contributors to brain, heart, bone and a healthy blood sugar.  
SeedsMore amazing dietary fats for your heart, brain, and vision so don’t shy away from organic seeds such as hemp seeds, sesame and pumpkin seed as these are good sources of zinc (immune, hormones health) chia and sunflower.

These seeds are a good source of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which is converted in the liver to EPA omega and then to DHA omega.  DHA is said to be the most prevalent omega 3 fatty acid in the brain and low levels may cause neurocognitive problems.

Non-meat eaters – studies suggest that adequate ALA supplements may be necessary to satisfy the EPA and DPA levels – (RDA 500mg is suggested).

Other cleaner mercury FREE omega is said to come from olive oil, canola (rapeseed) oil, walnut oil.
LegumesGood fibre helps to keep cholesterol in check great for both heart health and digestive.
PotatoesThis fill-me-up root veg is great in moderation so be mindful it is starchy and this may increase your waistline, however other benefits also include bone-building phosphorus, immune support Vitamin C and energy boosting B6 and B5 and of course heart friend potassium.
Whole grain foodsSimilar to Legumes this plant food is an excellent source of undigested fibre which is great for digestion health as well – excellent for weight management as you can feel fuller longer a great food to curb food craving.
HerbsThe Mediterranean diet advocate the use of herbs to flavor food; rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Coriander, Chives, Mint, and Parsley.   Herbs aid circulation and is well-known for their anti-inflammatory effect against painful health problems.
SpicesSimilar to herbs, spices have many healing benefits and it is an excellent source of anti-oxidant.
Fish (moderation)Some people eat fish for omega 3, Vitamin A and Vitamin D nutrients, however, these heart, skin and bone nutrients can also be obtained from plant-based sources.   To add Vitamin D can also be from plant food mushroom which is formed when the veggie is exposed to the sun as with human skin – research has shown darker skin need longer exposure for optimum Vitamin D.
Seafood (moderation)
Benefits includes Omega 3, Vitamin D (calcitriol state) and Vitamin A which is also beneficial for your heart, immune, reproduction system, skin. Other health-giving giants include potassium, zinc, selenium, and iodine which aids and protect from nutritional deficiency illness and disease.
Be mindful – seafood is linked to higher levels of mercury poisoning and other unpleasant substances.
Extra virgin olive oil
Can reduce the risk of a stroke as blood stickiness is lowered with (ALA) omega 3 acid, it helps to promote healthy levels of cholesterol and supple joints and studies also show that olive oil boosts memory health as well.
Canola oil
Similar to olive oil and other seed oils, Canola is rich in protective antioxidant, ALA and anti-inflammatory – research also shows that this oil can defend against strokes and heart disease as well.
Poultry (moderation)
Is said to be a good source of protein, however, a cleaner and complete amino acid alternative for non-meat eaters may include – spirulina, hemp, rice, garden pea, chickpeas and other peas and legume foods as well.
Eggs (moderation)
Some people enjoy eggs for its protein, lutein, Vitamin D (calcitriol state), CoQ10 and other nutrients – all of which is also in plant-based for non-meat by-products people. 
Cheese (moderation)
Bone, nail and teeth health is a good source of calcium, Vitamin D (calcitriol state) and Vitamin K2.  High consumption may elevate your (so call) bad cholesterol and this is no linked to good blood pressure.
Calcium for strong bones, nails, and teeth improve nervous system and bowel health –  it can serve as a light evening meal when oats and a small fruit is added.
Red meat (rarely)
So here is another source of protein if you enjoy eating meat – the iron nutrient is a blood builder, it helps to balance energy and it instigator weight loss.  An alternative is the primary part of the Mediterranean diet which is fruits, veggie, nuts and seeds healthy fat as they also provide and set up conditions for the same health benefits as meat.

Be mindful - similar to fish, meat can be problematic on your bowel as studies have shown animal material contain no fiber, what-so-ever.
Red Wine (moderation)
Aids digestion, according to research protein softens the wine tannins polyphenol (textural element that makes wine taste dry), red wine also helps to oxidize fats name malonaldehydes which comes from meat during digested.  A low-alcohol red wine such as “Merlot” is said to have a positive effect on intestinal bacteria and polyphenol is held responsible.

Red Wine resveratrol antioxidant aids blood vessel dilation and thus improve blood flow and food nutrients delivery for general wellness.

Be mindful - over consumption is not linked to longevity but it is linked to fatty liver (hepatic steatosis) also wine is not great if you are planning to exercise (exercise is vital to wellness).   In the UK the revised limits consumption is 14 units instead of the old 21 units.  And according to the UK chief medical officer, the new amount is for both men and women.

Non-alcohol sources of “resveratrol phytonutrient” is also found chocolate, grapes, some berries, and peanuts.

So, in summary – if you prefer the Mediterranean diet then eat mainly plant-based foods to include fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts and legumes.  Try to include olive oil and canola oil.  Include plant base herbs and be mindful of animal products and by-products.  Moderate consumption of alcohol wine.

Food for all – whatever eating style you adopt ensure it is disease proof as several factors such as genetics may hinder your body’s ability to handle certain foods.  Awareness of the “food-health” relationship is particularly important with regard to plant-based foods if it works for you!

Alison Henry

by Alison Henry, WAFFL Nutritionist

Alison’s dedication to her clients’ nutritional needs has meant using innovative tools and techniques to help clients reach great health.

Alison specialises in correcting long-term and recurring health issues. She also conducts a thorough assessment of her patients’ dietary and lifestyle choices to bring a solution for wellness.