By Dr Katie DeGroot, ND –
Have you heard of the Mediterranean Diet or how it was discovered? Or have you noticed how popular it is lately, and wondered why is so often recommended by doctors and nutritionists for any number of health conditions?
In the mid-1950s, a group of American scientists noticed that people living around the Mediterranean Sea were healthier and lived longer than the average American. After much study, they concluded this was almost entirely due to differences in diet and exercise. From this work the Mediterranean Diet was first described nearly 70 years ago.
Now, the Mediterranean Diet is highly recommended for both health promotion and disease prevention—it has been extensively researched and found to prevent or improve outcomes in many conditions, including high blood pressure, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and stroke.
Following the Mediterranean Diet is quite simple; there is no magic formula or restrictive menu plan. Rather, it is a general guide to healthy eating. Key foods to eat every day include vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, olive oil, and nuts and seeds. Every week, it is recommended people consume two or more servings of fish or seafood, and one or two servings each of poultry, eggs, and/or dairy products. Red meat is recommended in moderation, perhaps one serving every week or two. Water should be consumed every day, with red wine on occasion.
Ideally, processed foods should be avoided—food products that are commercially made or contain multiple ingredients. Such foods include sugar-sweetened beverages (such as soda or juice), refined grain products (like white bread or pastries), and processed meats (including bacon and luncheon meats). Finally, exercise and social connections are important—it’s recommended to be physically active every day and to eat meals in company.
Choosing to follow a Mediterranean Diet can be as simple as shopping at your local farmer’s market, choosing whole foods at the grocery store, or changing portion sizes or how frequently you eat certain foods. It is not so much that the foods you eat are Mediterranean in origin, but rather, that they are real foods enjoyed together with family or friends.
Dr. Katie DeGroot is a naturopathic doctor who also holds a Master’s of Science in Nutrition. She works at Integrated Elements Wellness Clinic in both Williams Lake and 100 Mile House and is currently accepting new patients at both clinic locations.