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Friday, 30 September 2016

Mediterranean Type Diet Fights Cardiovascular Disease; Helps You Live Longer, Healthier

As I delve into this topic I wish to make reference again to a previous discussion on eating and living healthy. It refers to the popular biblical story, when the four Hebrew boys vehemently refused to ‘partake of the King’s sumptuous meal’ – being made up of obviously assorted meat dripping with fat, etc, which contrast heavily with the Mediterranean type diet we shall be discussing. They instead requested to be served only fruits and vegetables, and nuts. And they excelled in ‘looking good’, we were told. 
Olive oil - the central object of Mediterranean diet
Now, the Mediterranean is the largest inland sea; it lies between Europe and Africa, and Asia. The people living around this location are famous for their much admired (dietary) lifestyle. The people for one thing, have been known to live long and suffer rarely from some of the most dreaded and debilitating and sometimes terminal diseases we all know. Recently scientific researchers have begun to unearth some of the basic truths about the dietary habits of the people vis-à-vis how it shapes their overall health.

Of late findings have revealed that of a fact Mediterranean type diet can be linked with a decrease in death rates in patients with a history of cardiovascular disease. This fact is contained in study result from the observational Moli-sani research presented at ESC Congress 2016 in August.

Professor Giovanni de Gaetano is head of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed Institute in Pozzilli, Italy. He stated that, "The Mediterranean diet is widely recognised as one of the healthier nutrition habits in the world. In fact, many scientific studies have shown that a traditional Mediterranean lifestyle is associated with a lower risk of various chronic diseases and, more importantly, of death from any cause."
"But so far research has focused on the general population, which is mainly composed of healthy people," he added. "What happens to people who have already suffered from cardiovascular disease? Is the Mediterranean diet optimal for them too?" he asked.
This could easily be answered in the affirmative; studies have already proven that looking at the lives of people with a history of cardiovascular disease like coronary artery disease and stroke, evidences were in abundance. For the study, patients of this nature were involved in the Moli-sani project. This is a potential epidemiological study that enrols arbitrarily about 25,000 adults who happen to reside around Molise in Italy.

 "Among the participants, we identified 1197 people who reported a history of cardiovascular disease at the time of enrolment into Moli-sani," said Dr. Marialaura Bonaccio, lead author of the research.
In the cause of this study a questionnaire was designed according to European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) food frequency, to record food consumption. Also, the experts made use of a 9-point Mediterranean diet score (MDS) to measure compliance. Reason for death was measured by relating with data from the office of vital statistics in the Molise region.
Averagely in a period of follow up of 7.3 years, 208 deaths were recorded; there was 2-point increase in the MDS which was linked with a 21% reduction in death risk having done controls for age, sex, energy intake, egg and potato intake, education, leisure-time physical activity, waist to hip ratio, smoking, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, diabetes and cancer at baseline.
When considered as a 3-level categorical variable, the top category (score 6-9) of compliance to the Mediterranean diet was linked with 37% lesser risk of death as against the bottom category which is 0-3.
"We found that among those with a higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet, death from any cause was reduced by 37% in comparison to those who poorly adhered to this dietary regime," proclaimed Professor de Gaetano.

The study went far in its investigations by examining the functions of individual foods that make up Mediterranean diet. "The major contributors to mortality risk reduction were a higher consumption of vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts and monounsaturated fatty acids - that means olive oil," Dr. Bonaccio said.
About some forty years ago, researchers from seven countries studied came to an agreement that the monounsaturated fats present in olive oil were chiefly the cause of the rare incidence of heart disease and cancer on the Greek island of Crete. Now we know that olive oil also contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent age-related diseases.

And I say for the umpteenth time to Nigerians who are usually wont to attach it to some religious ceremonies, olive oil is not anointing oil; it is plain edible oil – in fact, one of the best oils available today. It is always at the centre of the popular Mediterranean type diet we talk about alongside plant-based foods - fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, legumes, and whole grains, experts say. Also, they say we should not forget to add red wine in moderation as well as plenty of exercise.


And finally, Professor de Gaetano said: "These results prompt us to investigate the mechanism(s) through which the Mediterranean diet may protect against death. This was an observational study so we cannot say that the effect is causal. We expect that dietary effects on mediators common to chronic diseases such as inflammation might result in the reduction of mortality from any cause but further research is needed."

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