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How the Mediterranean Diet Benefits Healthy Aging


Various vegetables, herbs, legumes, and ingredients laid out on a table with fish.

A famous quote written by the father of medicine Hippocrates around 400 BC states “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”. This beautifully yet simply written sentence has been repeated for centuries and sheds light on the importance and history of food, and its nutritional value, having a great impact on our health. Hippocrates, born in Greece, was a physician from the Classical period and one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. For thousands of years, passed down through thousands of generations, and hundreds of cultures, it has been believed that food can help prevent and alter our health for the better. And what's not better than to incorporate the cuisine of the man who said it himself into our diet? Matter of fact, there is a whole diet that highlights the foods that the Greek culture has been indulging in for thousands of years as well as many other countries surrounding the Mediterranean which has been shown to promote life longevity. 



A plate with an egg, blueberries, almonds, and avocado.

About The Mediterranean Diet

This form of healthy eating was first recognized by American Physiologist Ancel Keys and his biochemist wife, Margaret Keys while researching in Europe in 1952. They studied the correlation between a semi-experimental diet, blood pressure, and cholesterol and its impact on the health of the locals in Italy and Spain. It had groundbreaking revelations which led to the creation of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid in the 1990s by the Harvard School of Public Health and the International Olive Oil Council, who both exclaimed the crucial component of healthy nutrition is the consumption of olive oil. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant-based foods and healthy fats. The key guidelines of the diet are:


1. Consume a variety of vegetables, fruits, and legumes daily. 

2. Only eat whole-grains, like brown rice, quinoa, whole-grain wheat, wild rice, and bulgur. 

3. Consume healthy fats daily such as olive oil (EVOO), avocado, walnuts, and flaxseeds.

4. Only eat a moderate amount of fish, especially ones rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

5. Try to avoid eating meat, choosing poultry over red meat.

6. Only consume a moderate amount of cheese and yogurt.

7. Avoid sugar and butter.

8. Drink a moderate amount of wine with meals (but if you don’t drink, don’t start).



A grandmother and grand daughter putting flowers in a vase.

The Benefits

The Mediterranean diet is a healthy eating pattern that has been shown to prevent diseases including cardiovascular disease, lengthen longevity, and promote healthy aging. Due to its lengthy list of benefits and known preventatives, it has been recommended for people of all ages, especially older adults looking for a healthier diet plan. The diet plan also aids in healthy weight loss when combined with caloric restriction. The main benefits include:


  • Supporting liver function and health

  • Promoting cognitive health

  • Assists in preventing diabetes 

  • Boosts cardiovascular health

  • Lowers the risk of cancer

  • Reduces the chance of developing Alzheimer's disease



There have been numerous studies performed regarding this diet including one performed by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society which showed that adults over the age of 65 who followed the Mediterranean diet were 50% more likely to age vibrantly and have better health becoming less feeble than other older adults not following this diet.  


If you have been thinking of starting a new healthy diet that promotes your overall health and well-being, have this be your sign to try out the Mediterranean diet! It is not only extremely healthy, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable, but also an illustration of identity and belonging due to its long history and rich cultural heritage. 


Mediterranean diet inspired recipes:



Quote honorable mentions…

“Eating crappy food isn’t a reward – it’s a punishment.” -Drew Carrey

“No disease that can be treated by diet should be treated with any other means.” -Maimonides

“By choosing healthy over skinny, you are choosing self-love over self-judgment.” -Steve Maraboli

“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.” -Ayurvedic Proverb

 

If you found this article inspiring, we have more where that came from: click here! Or, find a new healthy recipe: here!

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