It's generally accepted that the folks in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods. The Mediterranean Diet may offer a host of health benefits, including weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control. By following the Mediterranean Diet, you could also keep that weight off while avoiding chronic disease.
As I wrote in op-eds for the Wall Street Journal61 and Medscape,62 the Lancet Public Health study is based on very thin data. The questionnaire underlying the report left out questions regarding popular foods, such as pizza and energy bars, and did not consider alcohol consumption. Moreover, the “low-carb” diet group in this study included people eating up to 37% of calories as carbohydrates—not low-carb according to the latest science. Ultimately, this is the kind of data that can show association but not establish causation, which means it is the kind of data one can use to generate hypotheses but not prove them. This kind of data would never be considered sufficient to approve a drug, for instance. The same standards should be applied to diet. Quite a few researchers, including myself, had our critiques published in Lancet Public Health.63 The authors replied but did not respond to most of the criticisms.
Results of meta-analysis of 12 large studies conducted between 1966 and 2008, covering more than 1.5 million subjects, were published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2009. The authors concluded that the Mediterranean diet is associated with significant health benefits, including lower mortality overall, and reduced risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
This popular diet program is fairly restrictive — and for the first 30 days, dieters must cut out grains, legumes, most dairy, added sugar, and alcohol without any slip-ups, according to the Whole30 website. (29) The aim is to “reset” your body and to adopt dietary habits resulting in weight loss. Cutting out added sugar and alcohol has merit, but all the restrictions prove challenging and could lead to nutrient deficiencies and disordered eating.
Though the ketogenic diet is quite safe and even beneficial for diabetics, there is sometimes a chance a patient can develop diabetic ketoacidosis. Anytime you change your body’s primary energy source from carbohydrates to fat, your blood becomes flush with those ketones we talked about. And, anytime there are too many ketones, there is a potential risk for developing ketoacidosis. However, this is most likely to occur in those with type 1 diabetes. It can still happen in individuals with type 2 diabetes, although is it quite rare.
What the expert says: ‘Over 50 years ago researchers realised they didn’t have to restrict energy every day and they still got a protective effect. In animals, these diets were shown to reduce visceral fat, oxidative stress and reduce cell proliferation, which is involved with the development of cancer. The models that were used in humans were two consecutive days of 650kcal then five days following a normal, healthy diet, versus a healthy med diet of 1500kcal.
“Think outside of the box when you’re preparing what to eat. I wake up every day excited to eat breakfast because I love the foods I've bought and prepared and can't wait to savor them,” Moreno says. Instead of boring oatmeal in the morning, which Moreno calls, “Oliver Twist food,” jazz it up. “Try oatmeal with vanilla protein powder, walnuts toasted in ghee, and cinnamon, that’s much more exciting.”
It's important to note that the drop-out rate was substantial and reports of symptomatic hypoglycemia 1-5 episodes) were experienced by 69% of those in the study. The mean carbohydrate intake was 35 grams (+/- 15) daily. Based on self-reported results, the change in HbA1c was -1.45% (+/- 1.04, P < 0.001) with an average HbA1c of 7.2% associated with greater hypoglycemia; yet, these results are comparable to other study findings. The average blood glucose levels were 104 mg/dL (+/- 16). 2 Final lipid profiles were mixed. The results were similar for adults and children.
The subjects had a mean BMI of 42.2, mean age of 56 years, and were of either African-American or Caucasian descent. In their intervention, subjects consumed a LCKD diet with the goal of eating less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day while reducing dosages of diabetes medication. Subjects also received nutritional counseling and medication adjustment every two weeks.
In her book, Susan highlights one of the major problems with dinner time today: quality time. Does everyone else remember when dinner time was family time? When we would all sit down together, share our day, talk, laugh, and leave when the meal was done? Susan and I shared our childhood dinning experiences when we discussed her call for embracing the the Mediterranean lifestyle — incorporating exercise, relaxation, and family meals back into our daily routines. This book is looking for someone who is looking to make a lifestyle choice. The way that you eat, sitting down with your families at the dinner table. No more meals on the go, no more meals with the TV. I wanted to bring back the importance of food in our households,” noted Susan.