Since the 1980s, there has been continuous research on the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and health. A considerable amount of research has been published today.
Among the many kinds of literature, we will first select the Mediterranean diet and various health issues that modern people are often concerned about and help review and organize some literature.
Nevertheless, before we start, it should be emphasized that many of the research results we have seen so far have not yet confirmed a clear causal relationship.
1. Extend your life
Whether it was people living around the Mediterranean or living elsewhere, the study found that eating a Mediterranean diet significantly reduced the risk of death, that is, a greater chance of living longer.
In addition, the study also found that people who ate a Mediterranean diet had significantly longer telomere lengths in white blood cells than those who ate a poor quality diet.
The length of chromosome telomeres is generally considered by the medical community to be related to ageing, and usually, the length of telomeres will shorten in the process of ageing. However, the current evidence is not strong enough to determine that people who eat a Mediterranean diet experience slower telomere* shortening.
*A telomere is a small DNA-protein complex present at the end of a linear chromosome in eukaryotic cells. A telomere-binding protein forms a special “cap” structure. Each time a cell divides, the telomere will become shorter, and when it is short to a certain extent, the cell will begin to age and finally go to apoptosis.
2. Improve brain function (cognitive ability/dementia/Parkinson’s disease)
The Mediterranean diet has been found in several epidemiological and randomized controlled trials to affect cognitive ability positively. Studies have found that people who eat a diet that is highly similar to the Mediterranean diet experienced a slower rate of cognitive decline and a lower rate of cognitive decline and chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
However, the current research evidence is not enough, and more long-term randomized controlled trials are needed in the future to verify whether the Mediterranean diet can help prevent or delay the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Even for Parkinson’s disease, a study comparing the dietary patterns of Parkinson’s disease patients and ordinary people found that the early onset of Parkinson’s disease was associated with a low score on the Mediterranean diet.
3. Prevent cardiovascular disease
A review of past research has shown that the Mediterranean diet has positive cardiovascular health benefits, but the current level of evidence does not provide a definitive answer.
Prevention with Mediterranean Diet is a large-scale study conducted in Spain. It recruited people with a high risk of cardiovascular disease to conduct a randomized controlled trial. It randomly divided more than 7,000 participants into three groups: Mediterranean diet + Olive oil, Mediterranean diet + nuts, and control group (low-fat diet). The first group ingested up to about 1 litre of extra olive oil per week. The second group ingested an additional 30 grams of nuts per day.
After an average of 4.8 years of follow-up, both groups with the Mediterranean diet were found to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death than the control group.
However, the control group diet in the study was a low-fat diet, which may interfere with the final results, and the general diet may be selected as the control group.
In addition, olive oil intake was more effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and death in both groups of Mediterranean diets.
4. Weight management
A systematic review of studies comparing a Mediterranean diet, a low-fat diet, a low-carbohydrate diet, and the American Diabetes Association diet for weight loss and cardiovascular disease risk prevention in people who were either overweight or obese and the duration of the trial All over 12 months.
The study results found that the Mediterranean diet was more effective in weight loss than the low-fat diet. The former lost 4.1 to 10.1 kg; the low-fat diet lost 2.9 to 5.0 kg, and the weight loss effect was similar to the other two diets. In addition, these diets reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
However, it should be especially reminded that weight is the final result of many variables.
5. Prevent diabetes
A 2017 review of the relationship between type 2 diabetes and dietary patterns analyzed 48 studies covering 16 generations. The results found that three diets, the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet (DASH) and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), were all likely to prevent the risk of type 2 diabetes.
6. Reduces the risk of certain cancers
A meta-analysis of observational studies found that people who ate the highest Mediterranean diet scores were associated with a lower risk of death from all cancers. That includes colorectal cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer, head and neck cancer, pancreatic cancer, and pneumonia. However, there was no significant relationship between oesophagus, ovary, endometrial and bladder cancer.
There was no significant relationship between high adherence to the Mediterranean diet and the risk of cancer death or cancer recurrence for cancer survivors.
7. Prevent rheumatoid arthritis
In 2017, a review of the literature on the prevention and improvement of the Mediterranean diet in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) found that the Mediterranean diet was associated with reduced pain caused by RA and increased body function in patients. Evidence at this stage is insufficient to support the widespread adoption of the Mediterranean diet to prevent RA.
In addition, a prospective generational study suggests that elements of the Mediterranean diet may come from a rich intake of polyunsaturated fats, with olive oil being the primary source of this fat.
Dietary patterns may influence the occurrence of depression. Compared with Western-style diets, Mediterranean-style diets and healthy diets may have a preventive effect on depression. However, the current evidence is insufficient to confirm such a relationship.
A French cohort study also found that high adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with a lower risk of depression in middle age, especially in men.
9. Eye health
Macular degeneration is an eye disease that has received significant attention recently. The European Eye Study surveyed more than 5,000 older people over 65, and their Mediterranean diet scores were related to age-related macular degeneration. Degeneration (AMD) found that higher Mediterranean diet scores were associated with a lower risk of advanced macular degeneration.
However, due to the scale of the study and the groups involved, the evidence is still insufficient.
10. Joint health
Although there are no large-scale studies, studies investigate the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and the inflammatory response to osteoarthritis and cartilage degeneration. The results found that the Mediterranean diet group had lower inflammation and cartilage degeneration markers than the standard diet group. The Mediterranean diet may improve knee and hip joint mobility.
In addition, an extension of the “The Osteoarthritis Initiative” study found that high adherence to an earthen diet was associated with a better quality of life and reduced symptoms of pain, disability, and depression.
11. Kidney health
Studies have found that people with a skewed Mediterranean diet pattern are less likely to develop moderate chronic kidney disease.
In addition, a six-year follow-up study also found that people whose diets closely followed the Mediterranean diet were less likely to develop chronic kidney disease.
Studies have also found that a Mediterranean diet may help slow the decline of kidney function and improve patient survival for people who already have chronic kidney disease.
12. Pregnancy and child health
Nutritional status during pregnancy affects the growth and development of the fetus and the health of the baby after birth. A generational study conducted a study on this and found that pregnant women whose dietary patterns during pregnancy were closer to the Mediterranean diet were more likely to have a healthy diet after birth. During the last four years, there may be a thinner waistline.
That said, pregnant women who used a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy were less likely to risk abdominal obesity.