A Mediterranean diet originated in that region. Due to crops that grow in that region people naturally consume a diversity of health promoting foods, such as leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Compared with a Standard American Diet, the fallback foods in Europe and America are meat, fish, milk, cheese and eggs. Do you see the difference?
Milk for instance is only used in small amounts in coffee. There is no large scale milk consumption like it is common in North America. Sugar, starchy vegetables like potatoes were only eaten occasionally and butter and cream was never used as they had the cold pressed extra virgin olive oil from their region that still is the primary source of fat.
Fruits and very small amounts of local cheese are regularly on the menu. A moderate intake of red wine during meals are common.
Here is what the Mediterranean looks like in a nut shell:
- minimally processed whole grains and legumes are staples
- A variety of fresh vegetables makes up the main component of the meals each day
- Fresh fruit serves as a daily dessert after meals
- Cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds are the primary source of fat
- Occasional consumption of fish
- Small amounts of local cheese and yogurt (used in condiment sizes); milk used for coffee only
- Meat only once or twice per month
- Wine consumed in moderate amounts with meals
You can see that this type of diet is rich in fiber, moderate amounts of fats and specific proteins in moderate amounts. So now compare this to your diet.
The closer you are to eating a Mediterranean diet, the closer you are to eating an anti-inflammatory diet.
Many animal and molecular studies have indicated that diet remains a key factor in the prevention of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and most cancers. We also now starting to understand the contribution of diet to our microbiome and therefore the regulation of our metabolism.
Anti-inflammatory or Mediterranean diets have show to have
- lipid-lowering effects,
- protection against oxidative stress, inflammation, and platelet aggregation,
- modification of hormones and growth factors involved in the pathogenesis of cancer,
- inhibition of nutrient sensing pathways by specific amino acid restriction, and
- gut microbiota-mediated production of metabolites influencing metabolic health.
Several epidemiological studies have found that consuming a higher quality diet correlates with lower inflammation.
A higher quality diet also directly affects our gut microbiome biology. Data suggests that nutrients such as protein and insoluble fiber effect the structure, function and secretion of metabolites that modulate immune function as well as metabolic and inflammatory pathways.
It has been shown that high dietary fiber intake promotes modifications of the gut microbiota in both rodents and humans, with decreased Firmicutes and increased Bacteroidetes (in particular Bacteroides acidifaciens), which produces high levels of short-chain fatty acids, including acetate, propionate, or butyrate. Accumulating experimental animal data indicate that gut microbial production of these short-chain fatty acids from dietary fiber can suppress the development of several inflammatory, autoimmune, and allergic diseases.(3)
Changing your diet towards a long-term adherence to an anti-inflammatory diet with its’ minimally processed plant foods will have a more profound impact on your gut microbiome than any short term diet change.
Eating lots of processed carbohydrates in contrast can result in an extinction of “good bacteria” while feeding pathogenic bacteria in your gut. This might negatively effect your immune system as well as your metabolism and energy production ability. In conclusion, both the quantity and quality of what we eat is the deciding factor for our metabolic and molecular health.
Calorie restriction extends health span and life span only when coupled with adequate intake of all the essential nutrients and micronutrients.
Get started today with your anti-inflammatory diet with this free meal plan HERE