Thursday, February 28, 2013

Enjoying Life on the Mediterranean Diet

By now you have heard the good news. If you switch to the Mediterranean diet you will significantly lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables, and even drink wine with meals, a large and rigorous new study has found….

The diet helped those following it even though they did not lose weight and most of them were already taking statins, or blood pressure or diabetes drugs to lower their heart disease risk.

Hopefully, you already knew that the standard American diet was not very good for your health. The Mediterranean diet was compared to: … the usual modern diet, with its regular consumption of red meat, sodas and commercial baked goods….”

 Dr. Steven Nissen from the Cleveland Clinic observes:

 “Now along comes this group and does a gigantic study in Spain that says you can eat a nicely balanced diet with fruits and vegetables and olive oil and lower heart disease by 30 percent,” he [Nissen] said. “And you can actually enjoy life.”

That’s the strange part: we all believe that the right kind of diet will allow us to enjoy life. Obviously, illness is going to compromise your ability to enjoy life, but still… in Spain?

According to the BBC:

Unemployment in Spain now stands at a staggering 26% with no signs of falling.

In Greece, the home of the Mediterranean diet, the economic collapse continues unabated. Things are so bad that Greek pharmacies are running out of medicines.

The Guardian has the story:

Greece is facing a serious shortage of medicines amid claims that pharmaceutical multinationals have halted shipments to the country because of the economic crisis and concerns that the drugs will be exported by middlemen because prices are higher in other European countries.

Hundreds of drugs are in short supply and the situation is getting worse, according to the Greek drug regulator. The government has drawn up a list of more than 50 pharmaceutical companies it accuses of halting or planning to halt supplies because of low prices in the country.

More than 200 medicinal products are affected, including treatments for arthritis, hepatitis C and hypertension, cholesterol-lowering agents, antipsychotics, antibiotics, anaesthetics and immunomodulators used to treat bowel disease.

Separately, it was announced on Tuesday that the Swiss Red Cross was slashing its supply of donor blood to Greece because it had not paid its bills on time.

Of course, there is no necessary correlation between the economic conditions of Mediterranean Europe and their diet of olive oil, nuts and figs. Still, one does wonder whether the economic performance of these countries has something to do with their avoiding of red meat. 


Dennis said...

As you allude to in your comments the question is, "How does this diet affect the other parts of one's body, especially the brain?" Many of these foods are high in oxalates as well.
I would suggest that all one has to do is look at the teeth in their mouth to get an idea of the balance of foods one consumes.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thanks, Dennis. But, what are oxalates?

Dennis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dennis said...

Jimmy J. said...

Modern societies must produce enough surplus of some commodities (iron, gold, silver, coal, oil, timber, agricultural products, etc.) in order to pay for the things they need to import.(Energy, food, manufactured goods, etc.) New Zealand is a good example. They have no energy (oil, gas, or coal), but they do produce enough surplus of food (dairy products, wool, meat, fruit, wine, and timber) to buy the energy and manufactured goods they need. As long as they don't go too far into debt they can manage quite nicely.

Spain and Greece, on the other hand, have no energy and produce mostly a surplus of such things as olives, olive oil, figs, etc. Their surpluses are not great enough to support the borrowing they have engaged in. Short of an explosion of tourism or some international companies setting up manufacturing facilities there, they have no way out of their present dilemma.

It is not their diet. It is not understanding how wealth is created and why that matters.