The Mediterranean Diet – A Beginners Guide

 

The Mediterranean diet is a tried and true way of improving your health. People have used the Mediterranean diet to become healthier and more energetic for decades.

The diet was popularized in the 1960s. Scientist Ancel Keys noticed that people in small towns in Italy were very healthy and avoided many health problems Americans lived with. Keys studied their diets and popularized them for people in many countries.

Keys found that their diets were high in healthy fats, lower in saturated fats, and very low in trans fats, which are the most harmful. Their diets were also fairly high in protein and high in fiber.

The carbohydrates in their diets were of the healthy, complex kind. Keys found their diets to be highly nutritious and rich in garlic and herbs that have health benefits.

The Mediterranean diet has worked for people of many generations

The Mediterranean diet has stood the test of time. Many diets are fad diets – many people loudly claim that the diet worked for them, but interest doesn’t last, as the diet is too difficult or doesn’t work for most people. Each decade’s medical research has always supported the Mediterranean diet, and new research still supports it today.

Ideally, you may turn the Mediterranean diet into a lifestyle and not merely a diet. Aim for a lifestyle reasonably similar to that of a relaxed rural Italian in the fifties and sixties.

Get enough exercise, spend enough time in the sun, spend enough time around other people, and minimize stress. You can raise your overall quality of life in this way, becoming a happier as well as healthier person.

Italians ate meals with their families, often with both their parents and their children, and ate their food slowly. This is a healthier and happier way to live than eating by yourself and eating fast.

You can become healthier, more relaxed, and happier if you eat this way. Slow eating is good for digestion, and spending more time around others has physical as well as mental health benefits. If you spend more time around others, you will live longer.

People used the Mediterranean diet for generations before anyone recommended it

No one in Italy in the fifties and sixties thought they were on “the Mediterranean diet” – it was the standard diet in that time and place. People did not choose the Mediterranean diet for the sake of avoiding an unhealthy standard diet.

Today, a standard western diet is full of processed food and sugar. A standard American diet is much worse than it was in the 1960s, and even back then, the Mediterranean diet was better. Going on some sort of a diet today is necessary for health – a standard American diet can make even a young person unhealthy, and it is much more harmful to older people.

Because of improvements in medical science, life expectancy until very recently was increasing. However, remaining alive but sick for decades is no way to live life. If you want to remain healthy and not merely alive for a long time, you should care about what you eat.

This healthy diet can improve your microbiomeOpens in a new tab.

Doctors now fully accept that your gut microbiome is crucial to health. Everyone has gut bacteria, and some of these bacteria are helpful and others harmful.

Those with unhealthy gut bacteria have health problems of all kinds. Unhealthy gut bacteria lead to chronic inflammation, which leads to all sorts of health problems.

As people get older, the variety of gut bacteria decreases. This leads to inflammation, which worsens age-related health problems. Neurological disorders and cancer are linked to the loss of beneficial gut bacteria.

In recent years, medical researchers have started measuring levels of gut bacteria and testing diets to see which ones are most beneficial. The researchers found that the Mediterranean diet is one of the most beneficial diets, helping people grow healthier gut bacteria even late in life.

After twelve months, the change is remarkable. The participants, aged 65 to 79, had far fewer inflammatory markers after following the Mediterranean diet for a year. The participants also had higher levels of beneficial gut bacteria.

What other diseases does the Mediterranean diet prevent?

Many studies prove that the Mediterranean diet prevents many diseases, including some of the most common causes of death in modern societies.

Heart disease

Even someone who has already had a heart attack can return to health if they try the Mediterranean diet. Someone who has a heart attack is half or a quarter as likely to have another one if they switch to the Mediterranean dietOpens in a new tab. instead of an average diet.

Diabetes

For those without diabetes, the Mediterranian diet reduces the risk. The odds of getting type 2 diabetes in the future are lower on a Mediterranean diet. The diet stabilizes your blood sugar.

While the Mediterranean diet is not usually a low carb diet – you avoid bad carbs such as white bread and white rice, not carbs in general – there are low carb versions of this diet. If you already have diabetes, you might try a low-carb version of it to stabilize your blood sugar.

Cognitive decline

The Mediterranean diet can also prevent Alzheimer’s disease. If you stick to the diet and get exercise, your risk decreases by more than two-thirds. If you stick to the diet less properly, you still get a 40% or 32% reduction.Opens in a new tab.

Cancer

A Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of cancer by preventing obesity and reducing the odds even for people of the same weight. Many cancer cases are linked to diet – sugar, processed food, and probably red meat all increase the risk of cancer. About one in two people that lives to the age of 85 will get cancer eventually.

People on the Mediterranean diet limit red meat, especially if processed, sweets, and processed food in general. Much of the fat in the diet comes from olive oil, which is very good for you. There is some evidence that regular vegetable oils are an under-discussed health risk and may cause cancerOpens in a new tab. and other diseases, so switching to olive oil may lengthen your life.

he Mediterranean diet reduces the overall risk of cancer by as much as 61%Opens in a new tab., so it is one of the best diets for cancer prevention. You don’t have to give up sweets and red meat entirely; you only need to limit them. The Mediterranean diet is not very restrictive – it is neither a low-fat diet nor a low-carb diet; you only avoid bad fats and bad carbs.

Sexual problems

The Mediterranean diet may even prevent erectile dysfunctionOpens in a new tab.. This may be because the diet improves the health of your blood vessels. The diet may also prevent metabolic syndromeOpens in a new tab., which leads to sexual problems or diabetes in the long run.

What should you avoid on the Mediterranean diet?

First, you should eat non-processed rather than processed carbohydrates. Sugar and refined carbohydrates are the first things you want to avoid.

The next thing to avoid is saturated fat. Get your fat from nuts, fish, poultry, and olive oil, less of it from beef and pork.

Avoid processed food. People on the Mediterranean diet avoid:

• Refined flour and refined grain. Don’t eat pizza made from white flour, bread made from white flour, or white rice.
• Most cooking oils. Use pure olive oil that is not mixed with other oils. What cooking oils you use have a big impact on your health, so don’t assume this part of the diet doesn’t matter.
• Red meat, especially processed meat. Hot dogs, ham, deli meats, and fast food meats are processed. Non-processed beef and pork should also be limited. Poultry is much better, fish better still.
• Sugar. Nearly every diet will tell you to cut down on sugar, and for a good reason. Sugar leads to weight gain and diabetes faster than anything else. You can have dessert with a meal sometimes, but don’t eat dessert every day.
• Meals fried in oil – for example, a burger and fries at a restaurant – are not healthy.
• Heavily processed foods with long ingredient lists – if there is a long list of unpronounceable ingredients on the box, it is a safe bet that the food is bad for you.

What can you eat on the Mediterranean diet?

Again, both fat and carbs are allowed. Some of the effectiveness of the diet comes from the fact that people can stick to it for many years. You won’t have to tolerate either fat cravings or carb cravings on this diet.

Include seafood into your diet. If you find it hard to get enough protein without eating a lot of red meat or eggs, eat fish. You can also eat clams, oysters, and other shellfish on this diet.

Eat protein from many different sources, don’t get most of your protein from a single food. Rotate between fish, poultry, and plant-based sources of protein.

Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, plus whole grains. Be picky about what bread you eat. Look at the ingredients – don’t buy white bread, and don’t buy it if canola oil or soybean oil is on the ingredients list.

For best results, you should also eat a lot of garlic and other healthy flavor boosters. Use onions, learn about herbs and spices and their health benefits.

What should I eat on an average day?

Eating a variety of different foods is best. Depending on whether or not you want to lose weight and how difficult it is for you to do this, you may have to count calories. Ideally, you should not feel hungry often on this diet and should start eating fewer calories naturally with little effort.

An example

Breakfast

Have coffee, oatmeal, and berries for breakfast. You can put milk or cream in your coffee, but you should probably not use sugar. If you do use a bit of sugar, make sure it is brown rather than white sugar.

Lunch

Have a turkey sandwich and some lentil soup. Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein. Make sure the bread you use is healthy.

Dinner

Have a vegetarian but still protein-rich stew with lentils, beans, and vegetables. Have fish as well, cooked in olive oil and not butter or vegetable oil. Margarine is not a good cooking oil either.

Snacks

Nuts. Nuts are a great source of healthy fat. If you find your calories are going too high, trade nuts for carrots and peppers.

An example of a day without meat but with dairy

Breakfast

Have tea, yogurt, and fruit slices. You might also have sunflower seeds if you like them, and you could have berries. Many berries include antioxidants and are excellent for your health.

Lunch

Have a cheese sandwich with whole-grain bread, tomatoes, olives, and lettuce, plus a glass of milk.

Dinner

Make thick stew out of lentils and vegetables. This will not be too light of a dinner – lentils are very filling, even if you did not have fish or turkey that day.

Snacks

Have sliced fruit and nuts. Don’t let your snacks turn into fourth and fifth meals.

An example of a day where non-processed red meat is allowed

Breakfast

Have salmon and sliced vegetables. Have coffee if you can drink it often without reducing your sleep quality or causing any other problems.

Lunch

Have tuna salad with olive oil, herbs, tomatoes, spinach, and onions. You might also have a slice of whole-grain bread.

Dinner

Lamb stew is very tasty if you have never tried it before. Lamb is red meat, but you don’t have to avoid it strictly. Add spices and make it as tasty as possible.

Snacks

Try dried, roasted chickpeas. Since today is one of those days where you are allowed to eat saturated fat, try some hard-boiled eggs as well.

Can you lose weight on the Mediterranean diet?

As with any diet, cutting calories is how you lose weight. The challenge is to find a diet where you can cut calories without feeling hungry or weak and without causing any nutritional deficiencies.

Many people who try the Mediterranean diet find that it minimizes hunger better than any other diet they have tried. Because it is so effective, it is one of the most popular diets.

Studies show that the Mediterranean diet works as well as a low-carb dietOpens in a new tab. for weight loss. The diet works in the long run, as people are eating a variety of tasty food and not a very restricted menu. The diet also reduces the odds of weight gainOpens in a new tab. over the next 5 years.

Anthony MSc. Nutrition CPT

Anthony is a certified personal trainer, Certified Holistic Health Practitioner, and Strength and Conditioning coach. Today he works as a full-time fitness coach, writer, blogger, and author. In his spare time, he is an avid sailor, boating enthusiast, hiker, and backpacker His goal is to take the confusion out of weight loss and health and make it simple and easy to understand and follow. Anthony McGarr NASM CPT, CHHP, MSc. Nutrition, Certified Holistic Health Practitioner And Creator Of The Trans4m Diet

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