The Right Diet Path to Health: Research Shows a 40% Decrease in Stroke Even after a 4-Year Follow-Up
Many people have heard of the possible health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. But are these legitimate claims?
Why should you actively try to eat a certain way when you might be following an unfounded fad diet which becomes time-consuming, expensive and more difficult than what you do already?
What has been discovered recently is that although the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been boasted by anecdotal evidence and health gurus for years, it has now proven itself through science.
What this means for you is that you can use this large scale study to ensure that you and your loved ones eat well so you live long, healthy, happy and productive lives.
While a couple extra pounds will likely bum you out, what’s worse is it can start impacting the quality of your life from the inside out. Just a few extra pounds can create a greater degree of injury to your joints, and bad diet choices can slowly create physical exhaustion and dysfunction within your body.
In our office, we ease the body pain from joint stress. One way to help yourself feel good is to maintain a healthy weight. Also read the facts below to learn more about how to get your diet right for the health of your heart and blood vessels.
Researchers from the University of Barcelona performed a large-scale 5-year study that found those who follow a Mediterranean diet can reduce their risk of death from the effects of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack and stroke, by 30 percent.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed 7,447 people who had been selected to participate due to significant cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, a family history of heart disease and being overweight.
The aim of the study was primarily to determine the effect of diet choice on health by considering and counting the number of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from any cause while it was conducted. These efforts were primarily to come to a conclusion about how effective the Mediterranean diet is in reducing catastrophic health events, and thereby increase longevity.
The participants of the health research study were randomly assigned to one of three groups:
- A standard Mediterranean diet, supplemented with at least 4 tablespoons of olive oil per day
- A standard Mediterranean diet supplemented with about an ounce per day of nuts (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts)
- A low-fat diet group
Participants in the Mediterranean diet group consumed:
- Two servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit daily
- They were to add fish and legumes to the menu at least three times a week.
- They were asked to substitute white meat for red and to limit processed meats and dairy products.
- If the participants drank alcohol, they were advised to drink a minimum of seven glasses of wine per week with their meals.
- Participants were also asked to reduce the amount of commercially baked goods they consumed to no more than three times a week.
Participants in the low-fat diet group were to avoid eating nuts and any type of vegetable oil (olive oil included), cut off visible fat from meat and limit store-bought desserts to less than once a week. They were asked to eat three or fewer servings daily of a simple carbohydrate such as bread, potatoes, pasta or rice, and consume three servings of low-fat dairy products, as well as fruits and vegetables.
No calorie limits were placed on any of the groups, nor were they encouraged to increase their level of physical activity. Those in the low-fat group had the most difficult time adhering to the dietary guidelines and most participants reverted to a standard Western diet, with a slightly lower fat intake.
Those assigned to the Mediterranean diets were found to be not only 30% less likely to have suffered a stroke, heart attack, or died during the study, they were also 40% less likely to have suffered a stroke in the study’s 4-year follow-up period than those who were assigned the low-fat diet.
Not only have low-fat diets been shown to not be of much benefit, but they are known to be difficult to maintain because they leave people feeling unsatisfied.
How to incorporate the Mediterranean diet when you’re choosing foods on the go:
“Cheeseburgers and fries are fast food staples, and frankly don’t fit a Mediterranean diet plan,” says Donna Feldman, MS, RD and contributor to www.theDietChannel.com. Here are a few food selection tips to stick to a mostly Mediterranean diet when you’re on the go:
- Avoid items with cheese or mayonnaise spreads
- Avoid fried potatoes and breaded, fried meats
- Choose meal-sized salads with chicken or turkey meat on top. Subtract the croutons and add more protein or salad if you’re still hungry
- Choose the simplest meat dishes (grilled chicken minus the buns or sauces)
- Avoid processed and breaded meats such as chicken nuggets, if you have the option
- Avoid side fillers like soda pop, desserts and chips – instead choose water, vegetables or fruit
- An ideal pizza would be thin crust, with feta cheese, fresh tomatoes, fresh spinach and perhaps olives, mushrooms and peppers
- When in doubt, opt for salads with olive-oil dressing and some meat or fish, plus a whole grain roll once in a while is safe
You’ll be surprised how satisfied you can get from eating a meal minus much of the sugar, processed meats and bread.
Healthy is created from the choices of what you put into your body as well as how well you treat and take care of your body on the outside. If it seems confusing to keep up with what dietary information to follow during the day, imagine how hard it is to look out for the everyday symptoms that indicate that the body is getting worn down. At our office, we help our clients keep pain away, heal injuries quickly and make sure their bodies keep moving like a well-oiled machine. Ask us about our complimentary body balance evaluation.