Mediterranean diet plate with vegetables and olive oil

The Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

The last few years have been overrun with fad diets such as the Keto Diet and Intermittent Fasting. However, concerns exist among medical professionals of using both of these fad diets long term.

 

One tried and true diet though, has proven effective at warding off stroke, heart attack and premature death. This diet is the Mediterranean Diet. Of course, the biggest payoff comes from adopting such a diet early in life. However, even making healthy dietary changes later in life will still provide positive health benefits.

 

May is National Mediterranean Diet Month. It is also American Stroke Month. To recognize the health benefits this diet can provide, including stroke prevention, we would like to discuss some of the important, research based facts about the diet. Then, we will also provide examples of how you can incorporate it into your daily lifestyle.

 

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

 

The Mediterranean Diet incorporates foods typically consumed in the countries in the region bordering the Mediterranean Sea. This includes vegetables, fish, fruits and whole grains, and limited unhealthy fats. A bit of olive oil, limited alcohol and nuts are also typical in the diet of this region.

 

What does research say about the Mediterranean Diet?

 

Researchers reviewed the dietary habits of more than 10,000 women in their 50s and 60s. Then, they analyzed their health 15 years later.

 

Women who followed a healthy diet in middle age were nearly 40% more likely to live beyond age 70 without chronic illness, physical or mental problems than those following less-healthy diets. 1 The healthiest women ate more fish, plant based foods and whole grains; consumed less red and processed meats; and drank limited alcohol.

 

Do dietary changes midlife really make that much difference?

 

The foods eaten in the Mediterranean Diet are known to decrease inflammation and oxidative stress. These are the two general pathways underlying many age-related health conditions and diseases. Other improvements include better glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

 

Whole grains, fruits, legumes and vegetables are also packed with fiber. Fiber slows digestion and also aids in controlling blood sugar. Monounsaturated fats found in fish, nuts and olive oils can have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help stave off heart disease and many other conditions.

 

Research has also shown that this type of eating pattern can help lower cholesterol,  improve rheumatoid arthritis, aid in weight loss, and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and various types of cancer. 2

 

What are the basics of a Mediterranean-type diet?

 

Eat fish at least twice a week.

Base meals on fruits, vegetables, whole grains ( brown rice, quinoa whole wheat bread,), olive oil, nuts, beans, legumes (lentils,beans and dried peas), seeds, herbs and spices.

Consume moderate portions of poultry and eggs every two days or weekly.

Eat moderate portions of cheese and yogurt.

Eat red meat sparingly or limit to three-ounce portions.

Drink ample water each day, and drink alcohol in moderation.

 

What are some easy ways I can change my current diet?

 

Limit high-fat dairy by switching to 1% or skim milk.

Add fruits and vegetables to recipes and have them as a snack.

Sauté food in olive oil instead of butter.

Choose whole grains over refined breads and pastas.

 

 

Don’t let new dietary goals overwhelm you. Transition gradually so your new eating style becomes an actual lifestyle change.

 

Have questions about achieving your health goals? Make an appointment today with a CCMH provider. Search for one in our directory found here: ccmhhealth.com/directory.

 

Sources 

1 Annals of Internal Medicine. Cécilia Samieri, PhD; Qi Sun, MD, ScD; Mary K. Townsend, ScD; Stephanie E. Chiuve, ScD; Olivia I. Okereke, MD; Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH; Meir Stampfer, MD, DrPH; Francine Grodstein, ScD. The Association Between Dietary Patterns at Midlife and Health in Aging: An Observational Study. 5 Nov. 2013.

2 Harvard Health Publishing. Heidi Godman. Adopt a Mediterranean diet now for better health later.  6 Nov. 203.

 

Disclaimer

 

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

 

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

 

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

images of brain

7 Ways to Prevent Stroke

May is Stroke Awareness Month! Stroke is often thought of as a disease that affects only the elderly. Three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65, 1 however; strokes can affect anyone of any age.

 

What causes a stroke?

 

A stroke occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to part of the brain is blocked. Without oxygen, brain cells will begin to die in minutes. Sudden brain bleeding can also cause a stroke if brain cells receive damage.

 

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

 

Examples of stroke symptoms include

 

paralysis or numbness of the legs, arms or face

difficulty speaking or understanding speech

difficulty seeing

sudden weakness

 

How can stroke be prevented?

 

Certain risk factors are unavoidable such as age and having a close relative who has had a stroke. However, here are 7 healthy habits you can adopt to prevent this deadly disease today.

 

Lose weight

 

If you are overweight, losing weight is the most important place to start in reducing your risk of stroke. Make activity a regular part of your life and keep it fun. Finding an activity you really enjoy like participating in 5Ks or golfing will remove some of the pressure of having a weight loss plan.

 

Tracking your calories can help you determine where you’re consuming too much. Many apps will help you get an idea of what you should eat and track.

 

Work with your doctor to create a weight loss plan that meets your nutritional needs. A healthy, sustainable weight loss is typically 1-2 pounds per week, but may be more or less depending on your body’s needs and your doctor’s recommendations.

 

Lower blood pressure

 

High blood pressure is a very dangerous risk factor for stroke. It can double or even quadruple your risk level! Adopting to following strategies into your lifestyle can greatly improve blood pressure:

 

If you smoke, quit.

Reduce salt in your diet to 1,500 milligrams a day or less (around a half teaspoon).

Eat 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day, one to three servings of fish each week, and several servings of whole grains and low-fat dairy each day.

Avoid high-cholesterol foods like cheese, ice cream and burgers

Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.

 

Become more active 

 

Exercise is a contributor to other ways of reducing your risk, but exercise alone is also a stroke risk reducer. Make it a goal to  exercise at moderate intensity five days per week.

 

Ways to exercise more:

 

Walk whenever possible including to work or by parking farther away from entrances.

Find accountability with friends.

Take the stairs instead of an elevator.

Even if you don’t have 30 consecutive minutes to exercise, that’s ok! 10- to 15-minute sessions a few times each day are just as effective.

 

Manage diabetes

 

Having high blood sugar damages blood vessels and makes clots more likely to occur. If you have diabetes, keep your doctor’s appointments and follow his recommendations. Monitor your sugar regularly and use exercise, diet and medication (if prescribed) to keep your sugar at the recommended range.

 

Treat atrial fibrillation (afib)

 

Atrial fibrillation is a form of irregular heartbeat that can cause clots to form in the heart. Those clots then travel to the brain and produce a stroke.

 

Symptoms such as heart palpitations or shortness of breath may indicate afib. Your doctor may prescribe an anticoagulant drug (blood thinner) to reduce your stroke risk.

 

Drink alcohol in moderation (or not at all)

 

New research concluded that 1-2 drinks per day increased stroke risk by 10-15%. Four drinks per day increased the risk by 35%. 2

 

Commit to consuming no more than one glass of alcohol a day. Choose red wine first because it contains resveratrol, a substance which is thought to protect the brain and heart.  Also, beware of your portion sizes. A standard-sized drink is a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce glass of hard liquor.

 

Stop Smoking

 

Smoking thickens  blood and increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. This can lead to clot formation.

 

Ask your doctor for advice on the best way for you to quit. Quit-smoking aids, such as nicotine patches or pills, counseling, or medication may be strategies he or she recommends. Don’t give up no matter what! Few are able to quit on their first attempt. Think of any period of time not smoking as part of your success no matter how long or short it may be.

 

A stroke is a serious medical condition and requires emergency care. If you think you or someone else is having a stroke, call 9–1–1 immediately. During a stroke, every second counts!

 

To learn about our quality stroke care at CCMH, visit our website at https://www.ccmhhealth.com/stroke-care.

 

Sources

 

1 National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Stroke. 2019.

2 The Lancet. Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. 23 Aug. 2018.

 

Disclaimer


The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

 

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.


While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.