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Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

HEALTHY FOOD
9th December, 2023

In the world of weight loss and the ever-popular wellness diet, the Mediterranean diet remains sui generis, one of a kind. Mediterranean diet, in particular, isn't a fad or a passing trend; instead, it is an environment-driven food culture that allows people to eat, drink, and be merry. Contrary to expectations, the Mediterranean diet does not conform to the typical definition of a restrictive diet, as it does not impose strict eating regulations or calorie limits. Instead, it highlights the importance of consuming fresh, nourishing, and sustainable food that is simple, realistic, and promotes a healthy lifestyle.

The Mediterranean diet originates from the customary dietary habits, food, and social culture of people residing in the ancient civilizations bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It is a heart-healthy plant-based diet based on traditional cuisines of countries surrounding the Mediterranean basin, like Southern Italy, Greece, France, Turkey, and Spain.

This diet is rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole grains, and legumes, complemented by a generous amount of nourishing olive oil. It also incorporates modest portions of seafood and dairy products and limits the consumption of poultry and red meat to maintain nutritional balance for flourishing health. People savour a moderate amount of wine alongside their meals and drink ample water throughout the day. Hard liquor, carbonated beverages, sugary drinks, refined sugar, sweets, butter, and saturated fats are consciously omitted from the diet. This way of eating is healthy, realistic, and sustainable as you indulge in the pleasure of eating and drinking fresh, natural produce, having remarkable health benefits and protects against specific chronic ailments.

Top Health Benefits of Adopting a Mediterranean Diet

Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease

The Mediterranean diet promotes plant-based meals and healthy fats having vascular and anti-inflammatory properties, which naturally regulate blood pressure and cholesterol. Heart-healthy elements like olive oil, nuts, and seafood, rich in unsaturated fats and omega-3s, maintain clear arteries, combat oxidation, and improve endothelial function in the heart to enhance overall heart and blood vessel health. It effectively reduces blood sugar levels and body mass index, lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks.

Prevents Cognitive decline

Age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's or dementia, affecting memory and cognitive function, stem from cell damage due to stress and inflammation. Telomeres, an element of DNA, are associated with these diseases. The telomeres shorten with age; however, the longer telomeres protect against neurodegenerative diseases. Diet significantly impacts brain health. Mediterranean diet, incorporating healthy fats like olive and nuts, antioxidant-rich vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and probiotic-rich yogurt, can alleviate cell stress, preserve telomere length, and enhance cognitive function, contributing to healthier aging.

Promotes weight loss and healthy weight management

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The Mediterranean diet isn't designed to starve and skinny you down; rather, it prioritizes mindful consumption of nourishing foods. This regimen emphasizes the intake of fresh produce, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. The nutrient-dense nature of the whole and fresh food keeps you full and boosts metabolism. A simple, realistic, and unrestrictive diet aids in safely and healthily losing or maintaining weight and curbing the incidence of overweight and abdominal obesity. Unlike other diets across the globe, the Mediterranean diet isn't a fad; it is a sustainable lifestyle choice.

Prevents or Heals Type-2 Diabetes

The Mediterranean diet is inherently a diabetic-friendly eating plan, prohibiting refined carbohydrates and sugar while emphasizing the bounteous intake of fresh produce and whole foods high in vegetal fats and fibres. Including unsaturated fats from olive oil and nuts helps stabilize blood sugar levels. At the same time, whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables work to decrease insulin resistance, lower cholesterol levels, and provide cardiovascular protection.

Fewer Osteoarthritis complications

Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition leading to severe joint pain and swelling, can be relieved by consuming antioxidant-rich food and healthy fats to reduce inflammation. Moreover, the Mediterranean diet is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and calcium, given the intake of fatty fish, dairy products, and leafy greens, which contribute to strengthening bone health.

Helps de-stress, relax, and fight depression

Amidst fast-paced urban living, the Mediterranean style encourages simple lifestyle changes and mindful eating to reduce stress, anxiety, and the risk of depression. This unique, nutrient-dense diet protects parts of the brain from inflammation, enhances mental well-being, and uplifts mood. As they say, food is the best fuel for the brain; a Mediterranean diet comprising healthy fats, fiber, antioxidant-rich fresh produce, lean protein from seafood, and the occasional glass of wine serves as effective brain boosters for de-stressing, relaxation, and combating depression.

Reduces risk of Cancer

The Mediterranean diet centers around plant-based foods, rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Fruits and vegetables that are high in fibers and polyphenols offer protection against specific cancers. Additionally, the immune-boosting nutrients such as omega-6 and omega-3, sourced from olive oil, nuts, seeds, and seafood, aid in preventing and decelerating cancer progression by reducing inflammation, curtailing cancer cell proliferation, and restraining the formation of new blood vessels by cancer cells.

Promotes healthy aging and protects skin health

Given Dubai's hot and humid climate and the range of skin issues experienced by residents, adopting a low-glycemic Mediterranean-style diet is the best way to protect, prevent, and manage oxidative stress, the aging process, cellular damage, acne, and other inflammatory skin ailments. The Mediterranean diet, rich in fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, maintains a radiant and healthy skin complexion.

Improves Gut health

Poor gut health can result from highly processed food, stress, and exposure to eco-toxicants. However, the Mediterranean diet is proven to be remedial for gut health and restore overall well-being. Fibers from various fruits, vegetables, and whole grains promote diverse and healthy gut microbe, fostering improved digestion, enhanced immune function, and reduced inflammation. Nourishing Mediterranean meals facilitates the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, resulting in heightened energy levels, improved hormone function, better metabolism for weight management, and prevention of gastrointestinal ailments.

Bottom Line

Summing it all up, the Mediterranean diet represents a comprehensive lifestyle approach. It fosters overall well-being through mindful eating habits, balanced nutrition, moderate dietary intake, physical activity, and stress management. Due to the easy adaptability and versatility of the Mediterranean diet, it caters to people of all ages, health conditions, and taste preferences. Global research proves that the Mediterranean diet restores health and well-being while safeguarding against cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, gastrointestinal, and osteoarthritis ailments. The diet has shown better remedial efficacy in treating hypertension, cholesterol, and obesity.

In essence, the Mediterranean diet is a perfect integration of ancient food culture and traditions, contemporary wellness practices, and medical and therapeutic consciousness, popularising it as an epitome of wholesome living.

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