The History Of The Mediterranean Diet
Today, almost nobody follows the Mediterranean diet, even those that live in countries bordering the beautiful Sea.
This is sad as although this region has a strong history of a very healthy way of life, obesity and other industrial diseases are on the rise. The obesity epidemic is increasing rates of diabetes, fatty liver disease, hypertension, coronary disease, and neurodegenerative disorders.
In my opinion, just taking a step back in time and following the tenets of this wonderful diet could solve a lot of problems for people.
A Time-Tested Way Of Eating Well
Previously, it would have been quite common to eat a diet heavy in MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids). Today, it is more common to eat highly energy-dense, processed, and unhealthy but cheap foods.
The lack of exercise that is common with today’s lifestyles and the over-consumption of energy (food) sums up the problem of obesity. What is debatable is the actual role of fats in that equation. Some believe no fat is better than any.
I happen to believe that there are actually healthy fats and these are meant to nourish our brains and bodies in a good way, as long as they are consumed in moderation. MUFAs are generally accepted as good fat. Most PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) are as well.
How Good Fats Improve Your Health
Adipogenesis (formation of fat) depends on insulin, IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), and glucocorticoids. Fatty acids behave like hormones when certain nuclear receptors are activated. Fatty acids can also regulate adipocyte proliferation and differentiation.
Today’s diets have a high ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 oils (linoleic: linolenic acids). This was not true historically. This change happened, more or less, in the latter half of the 20th century here. Vegetable oils heavy with omega-6 PUFAs became readily available and encouraged by the government and nutritionists.
Linoleic acid will differentiate into pro-inflammatory molecules and exacerbate the problems inherent to obesity. Linolenic acids differentiate into anti-inflammatory or resolvin-type molecules. Thus, it does appear that the type of fat is important.
Olive oil is a MUFA. This is different than a PUFA or animal fat. Traditionally, olive oil is dominant in the so-called Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is a healthy fat and is one of the differentiators of this diet.
Olive oil is thought to contribute to the decrease in SCD (stearoyl-CoA desaturase) activity which is highly associated with obesity. The body can produce its own mono-unsaturated fatty acids for cellular functions with the SCD enzyme; however, if MUFAs are present in the diet, this activity is not needed.
A high intake of olive oil (MUFAs) is the common denominator here. A diet low in PUFAs will also lead to higher internal production of MUFAs. This is the body’s way to account for that deficit.
The Key To A Healthy Diet? Balance
There are many studies that support each and every viewpoint of course. However, for our purposes, it is most important to get away from total badness. This means that a better diet and better wellness should be accessible and achievable.
Most people cannot or will not become vegan. Most people cannot or will not monitor every bite of food that goes into their system. This means, for someone interested in improving people’s health and wellness, that improvement must be possible and desirable.
The Mediterranean diet can offer that. This is a delicious way to eat and a great way to live.
The Mediterranean diet is one that I recommend most often to my patients – in my opinion, it’s one of the healthiest diets out there, and you can use it to truly transform your health. If you missed our seminar on how to start a Mediterranean diet, and want to learn even more about its benefits, you can watch a replay today: