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How a Mediterranean Diet could save your life

A study investigating diet and risk of Metabolic Syndrome has found that a Mediterranean diet is very good for your health. Metabolic Syndrome is a name given to a group of risk factors that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes. The research evaluated 12 studies, finding that the diet reduced the risk of developing the syndrome. So the rumors are true, eat Italian to live longer.

Metabolic vs Mediterranean

The team evaluated pre-existing research using defined rules. Overall, 12 studies made the grade. With 33,847 patients reviewed, a total of 6432 were found to have metabolic syndrome. Waist circumference (related to the risk of intraabdominal fat and disease,) blood pressure and blood fat content were all lower in those eating a Mediterranean diet.

Waist circumference, a measure of obesity, is directly related to the level of intra-abdominal (internal) fat. This fat is linked to colon, breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, gallbladder disease, heart disease, stroke,  osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, gout and also liver disease.

 

Obesity can kill.

Hypertension, or ‘high blood pressure’ is linked to cardiovascular disease and stroke. High blood fat (the kind measured in this study) is also associated with heart disease and strokes. Together the combination of the obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood fat are recipe for disaster.

It seems that the Mediterranean diet combats all three.

What is a Mediterranean diet

A Mediterranean diet is one derived from the local flora and fauna of the Mediterranean basin. Long associated with long life, the science has caught up with myth.  The diet is primarily based on an abundance of plant based foods, fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts. Limiting red meat, replacing utter with olive or canola oil, eating fish and chicken twice a week and using herbs to flavour instead of salt. Crucially, red wine in moderation is not ruled out.

Making a change to this diet might be tricky, as Western food is often high in refined carbohydrates, salt, sugar and fat. But the evidence shows that you will be around longer to celebrate.

Trusted Medicine Education: What is Meta-analysis?

It is easy to get confused in the world of research. Very colloquial terms such as ‘observational study (aren’t all studies observed?!), confidence interval an extraneous variable often hinder rather than help. Beneath the vernacular lies reason, all these terms help scientists to weigh the research on how much it can be trusted. Believe it or not, there is a strict hierarchy of ‘trust’, where anecdotal reports form the base and meta-analysis the peak.

A ‘meta-analysis’ is commonly held as ‘reliable research’. A study will set an agreed number of rules on which data is reviewed, with ‘outcome measures’ (i.e what the study investigates) decided early. Studies are reviewed based on their strengths and weaknesses, complex statistical analysis applied to compare conclusions, and the final result subjected to rigorous scrutiny. The analysis tries to make sense of a multitude of research, and a good meta-analysis is usually well respected.

A common criticism of meta-analysis is the ‘trash in, trash out’ argument. If the research term picks a poor set of outcome measures or poor studies, the resulting conclusions will be very poor. It is for this reason that any meta-analysis is subject to high levels of discussion.

At Trusted Medicine we want to help the public by sharing Health and Science News and Research.  We love what we do, but we need your help to reach others. Please share our work.If you want to connect with us, please see below. Article proofed and edited for publication by Dr. BM Janaway

Disclaimer

Any opinions above are the author’s alone and may not represent those of his/her affiliations. Any comment is based on the best available evidence at the time of writing.  All data is based on externally validated studies unless expressed otherwise. Novel data is representative of the sample surveyed. An online recommendation is no substitute for seeing your own doctor and should not be taken as medical advice.

Sources and Further Reading

Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is inversely associated with metabolic syndrome occurrence: a

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About drbmjanaway (15 Articles)
Doctor and author with an interest in neurology, evolutionary biology and public health communication

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