Population health and Mediterranean Diet

Fig. 1 – Extra-virgin Olive Oil

Mediterranean Diet was formulated through the century and so has a long tradition of use without evidence of harm, it is not a hard dietetic constraint, but a life style which will prove to be very useful to you contributing to a better quality of life. No scientific association support the thesis that it is harmful and many studies have showed that greater adherence to Mediterranean Diet is associated with improvement in health status and reduction in overall mortality.
In fact:

  • as shown for the first time by nutritionist Ancel Keys and colleagues in the Seven Countries Study, conducted in the 1950′s and 1960′s, and subsequent studies, the Mediterranean Diet is celebrated for its impact on cardiovascular system health because it causes a significant reduction in mortality from coronary heart disease and stroke (data on stroke obtained from women);
  • it is related to lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease;
  • it is related to lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease and also to its subsequent course and outcomes: the higher adherence is associated with lower mortality in Alzheimer disease and it is suggested a dose-response effect;
  • there is a significant reduction in the cancer incidence and mortality;
  • there are mounting evidence that indicates a protective effect on weight gain;
  • it has been reported an inverse association between adherence to this dietary habits and the incidence of type 2 diabetes among initially healthy people and patients who survived myocardial infarction;
  • it is associated with a lower prevalence of the metabolic syndrome;
  • epidemiological and interventional studies have revealed a protective effect of the Mediterranean Diet against mild chronic inflammation and its metabolic complications; an anti-inflammatory dietary pattern could help fighting diseases related to chronic inflammation, including visceral obesity, type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome;
  • there is evidence that adherence to Mediterranean Diet patter may have a potential protective role with regard to prevention of depressive disorders; because inflammatory, vascular, and metabolic processes may be involved in the risk of clinical depression adherence to Mediterranean Diet may have a protective effect reducing such risk factors;
  • it may reduce greenhouse gas emissions (carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide and similar) related to food production, especially meat, because is characterized by the prevailing consumption of foods of plant origin such as vegetables, legumes, cereals and olive oil while it reduced the consumption of meat, especially red (greenhouse-gas emissions from livestock sector exceeds that due to transport, 18% versus 14% of total, and is second only to energy production, 21% of total).

Fiala N. Hamburger a effetto serra. Le scienze. Dicember 2009

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Martínez-González M.Á., de la Fuente-Arrillaga C., Nunez-Cordoba J.M., Basterra-Gortari F.J., Beunza J.J., Vazquez Z., Benito S., Tortosa A., Bes-Rastrollo M. Adherence to Mediterranean diet and risk of developing diabetes: prospective cohort study. BMJ 2008;336:1348-51. doi:10.11bmj.39561.501007.BE

Sánchez-Villegas A., Delgado-Rodríguez M., Alonso A., Schlatter J., Lahortiga F., Serra Majem L., Martínez-González M.A. Association of the Mediterranean Dietary pattern with the incidence of depression: The Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra/University of Navarra Follow-up (SUN) Cohort. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009;66:1090-98 doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.129

Scarmeas N., Luchsinger J.A., Mayeux R. and Stern Y. Mediterranean diet and Alzheimer disease mortality. Neurology 2007;69(11):1084-93 doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000277320.50685.7c

Schröder H. Protective mechanisms of the Mediterranean diet in obesity and type 2 diabetes. J Nutr Biochem 2007;18:149-60 doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2006.05.006

Sofi F., Cesari F., Abbate R., Gensini G.F. and Casini A. Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health status: meta-analysis. BMJ 2008;337:a1344. doi:10.1136/bmj.a1344

Subak S. Global environmental costs of beef production. Ecol. Econom. 1999;30:79-91. doi:10.1016/S0921-8009(98)00100-1

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