Our culture loves fad diets. But these do not promote longterm healthy lifestyles.
Just look on the internet or your local bookstore and you will find hundreds of diets proving instant weight loss, health or wellbeing. Some even let you eat what ever you want and still lose weight. Fad diets come and go but the Mediterranean diet is not one of them. Before we review this diet, lets first take a step back and review what we are eating now (Examine and change your own diet habits in Better PD Nutrition.)
American diets are:
- Focused on fast and processed foods. The more processed or altered foods are, the greater the loss in nutritional value. Fruit roll ups made with ‘real fruit’ will never replace fresh fruit for the nutritional and health benefits it contains.
- Too high in processed foods that contain trans fats, high levels of polyunsaturated or hydrogenated oils, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.
- Too much saturated fat from meat, butter and dairy products.
- Processed foods high in salt.
- Too many additives and artificial sweeteners.
- Too few fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, beans, and nuts.
- Too little good fats such as omega 3s and olive oil.
- Too little variety (especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables) limiting the vitamins and nutrients we get.
Beware the marketing hype. Our society’s solution is to produce, market and sell a new brand of processed foods designed to make us healthier. Don’t fall into the marketing traps listed below. Read the labels.
- ‘Low in Fat’. This label leads the buyer to belief the product must be better for them if it now has less or no fat. Not necessarily true. More processed foods such as low fat products tend to substitute fat with sugar, corn syrup or salt to enhance flavor.
- ‘Made with whole wheat or whole grains’. Creative marketing leads the buyer to believe that their whole grain or whole wheat product is better. For example, your whole grain cracker or slice of bread is produced with wheat that is finely processed and in doing so looses the benefit of ‘whole’ grains.
- ‘Less sugar or sugar free”. Again not necessarily better for you. Your reduced sugar muffin may have more fat to keep it yummy.
Why focus on the Mediterranean diet?
Observations that men living in Greece and other areas along the Mediterranean coast had less heart disease and lived longer. Daily exercise and a common diet were key factors in these health benefits.
The Mediterranean diet is proven to improve or prevent
- Obesity even when compared to low fat diets.
- Glucose control and diabetes type 2
- Heart disease and survival from heart disease
- Cancer risk and survival
- Life span
- Risk of depression
The link between brain health, and Parkinson’s health is getting stronger
- Less brain damage from stroke in people whose diet more closely resembles this diet
- Less cognitive problems or progression to Alzheimer’s disease
- Reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease
What is the Mediterranean diet?
Simply stated, the Mediterranean Diet is the standard diet eaten by people in the Mediterranean region.
The Mediterranean diet (print the Mediterranean pyramid) is:
- High in fruits and vegetables. Great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
- High in nuts. High in fat so keep eat but sparingly.
- Low in animal protein and high in plant protein. Meat is limited to just a few times a month. Fish, nuts, beans, lentils are eaten in its place.
- High in fish. At least once to twice weekly.
- High in whole grains.
- Olive oil in place of butter, margarine other oils.
- Garlic or other spices to liven the taste of food without added sugar, fat or salt
- Glass of wed wine or purple grape juice if wine not best for you
Remember the Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle choice not a fad. Exercise and physical activity is part of this healthy lifestyle.
 Gao X, Chen H, Fung TT, Logroscino G, Schwarzschild MA, Hu FB, Ascherio A. (2007). Prospective study of dietary pattern and risk of Parkinson disease.