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More Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet

Welcome back to “Wellness Wednesday.” It’s hard to believe we’re already half-way through January. I hope you haven’t given up on your goals and resolutions. So many people do, but we’re made of tougher stuff and we’re going to succeed at the things that are important to us.

Are you with me?

If one of your goals is to lose some weight, I applaud you. That’s a perfectly good and reasonable thing to do, but it’s not always easy. It takes some real determination to make different choices in your daily life. Last week, we talked about dieting – what it it and what it isn’t – and I began a discussion of one diet that I recommend to most people: The Mediterranean Diet. If you missed it, I encourage you to read it, because it sets the foundation for the things I want to talk about this month. I included a chart that shows what kinds of food we are talking about, and in what proportions. In a nutshell, we’re talking about lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, grains, legumes, fish, plus a little wine and a little red meat. It’s not super different from the American Diet, but it doesn’t include any processed foods, is extremely light on sugar, almost no alcohol, and much less meat than we’re used to.

In other words, it’s completely different from the way most Americans eat.

There are several great reasons to consider the Mediterranean Diet. A healthy and balanced way to lose weight is just most people’s favorite.

Here are a few others:

1. Low Sugar. There are so many benefits to a diet that’s low in sugar. Weight loss isn’t even the most important one. Because there is little sugar in this diet, the healthy carbs come from grains and pasta, sweets come from fruit, and the fats come from fish rich in omega-3, so you’re less prone to energy slumps and mood swings that are common with processed sugar. That makes you nicer to be around. People on this diet also eat breakfast more consistently, which gives your body the resources it needs for the day at the time it needs them. Your body burns fat from oils and fish more efficiently, and produces less insulin, giving the pancreas more time to recover after meals. This lowers your risk of Type-2 Diabetes. Refined sugar is also a favorite food of cancer cells, so the less you eat of it, the less cancer cells have to feed on.

2. Anti-Inflammatory. If you’ve ever dealt with arthritis, asthma, sinus infections, Chron’s disease, or other inflammatory diseases, you understand that simple acts can be extremely painful and taxing. Inflammation is the pain you experience when your immune system is rising up to fight off toxic invaders. It can manifest on your skin, your lungs, your colon, your eyes, or many other places, but it’s always awful. Sadly, most of those invaders come from our food – preservatives, fillers, sweeteners, and seasonings that food-makers use to make their plastic food taste appealing. Your body knows it’s not real food and fights it off like a virus. The Mediterranean Diet was developed thousands of years before scientists started creating this “Frankenfood” in chemistry labs. Their food comes from the earth. And like I’ve said here many times, if your food comes from the earth, your body knows what to do with it.

3. Heart Healthy. Olive oil is one of the best foods for your heart, and it’s one of the tentpoles of the Mediterranean Diet. According to a great article by Dr. Josh Axe, “Olive oil is also beneficial for lowering hypertension because it makes nitric oxide more bioavailable, which makes it better able to keep arteries dilated and clear. Another protective element is that it helps combat the disease-promoting effects of oxidation and improves endothelial function. Keep in mind that low cholesterol levels are worse than high sometimes, but people in the Mediterranean don’t usually struggle to maintain healthy cholesterol levels either since they obtain plenty of healthy fats.” Good for your arteries, good for your heart.

As we go deeper into this discussion of the Mediterranean Diet over the coming weeks, there will be more detail and more benefits, but this is some good food for thought.

I called my practice “Fundamental” Health Solutions because I truly believe that the healthiest cultures on earth have been the ones that got their nutrients from the basic foods that are available in nature, not from a science lab. The people of the Mediterranean Basin tend to live longer, healthier lives than other cultures because they tend to eat the same life-giving foods their ancestors ate. I think we can learn a great deal from their wisdom.

Again, if you missed last Wednesday’s article, I encourage you to read it, because it sets the foundation for this whole series. If you’re new to this blog, come and follow our page on Facebook. We’re building a community of people who want to live strong, healthy lives, and we encourage each other in this journey of discovery we’re all on. We’d sure love to hear from you.

In the mean time, I’ll look forward to seeing you tomorrow for “Think Right Thursday.”

“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.”  — Eric Thomas

 

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