Do your food choices, even if they are not perfect, really matter?

Just a Little More Attention for a Big Impact

In a 2010 systemic review and meta-analysis (the researchers picked out all of the high quality studies globally and gained insights from them) the authors found that just a little more compliance with the Mediterranean diet led to an …

8% reduction of death from all causes
10% reduction of death &/or incidence of  cardiovascular event or stroke
6% reduction
 from death &/or incidence of  cancer
13% reduction of neuro-degenerative  diseases

This is the same diet that was compared to the Standard American Heart Association Diet in 1994 and was found to have an unprecedented 76% lower risk of dying from or suffering a cardiovascular event.  So, if you want to avoid heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia/Alzheimer’s it makes sense to consider your diet as the starting place. Logic tells me that these risk reductions are just the beginning. What happens when you make more substantial changes?

Why, is that?

Well, the jury is still out on all of the research*, but there are some logical conclusions that we can make…

  1. The traditional Mediterranean diet removes the fast foods, deep fried, refined carbs and sugar that are typical components of the Western diet.  These foods are not neutral in our diet – they are pro inflammatory and inflammation is implicated in ALL disease.
  2.  The Mediterranean diet is rich in quality proteins, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and legumes.  These foods are full of nutrients and anti-inflammatory.
  3. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fiber and foods that support digestive health by creating a healthy environment for bowel flora.  These are the probiotics that modulate our immune system and produce vitamins such as B and K that play a critical role in our health.
* As someone who reads research on a regular basis, I will attest to the fact that it is difficult to know what to believe and how to make sense of it in real life.  At the heart of the confusion is the clash of reductionist research – breaking nutrients down to isolated components and then testing them in a petri dish – and the infinite uniqueness of living food and living human beings.  In other words, the basis of most research is reductionist.  In order to provide useful information I believe that the current models of research will need to expand their perspective to incorporate a holistic point of view in the structuring and evaluation of the study.  

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