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Diet Protects Physical and Mental Health

plateAdherence to a Mediterranean diet can convey protection from chronic disease and premature death, say Italian researchers.

Using a statistical technique that collectively analyzes independent studies, scientists discovered sticking to a full Mediterranean diet provides substantial protection against major chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

The study is published on bmj.com.

A ‘score’ based on adherence to the Mediterranean diet could be used as an effective preventive tool for reducing the risk of premature death in the general population, say the authors.

The Mediterranean diet from populations bordering the Mediterranean Sea has a reputation for being a model of healthy eating and contributing to better health and quality of life. It is rich in olive oil, grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and fish, but low in meat, dairy products and alcohol.

Previous research on the Mediterranean diet suggests that it has a protective role in cardiovascular disease and cancer, but no study has reviewed all the available data for a possible association between sticking to the Mediterranean diet, premature death, and the occurrence of chronic diseases in the general population.

A team of researchers from the University of Florence assessed 12 international studies, which collectively included more than 1.5 million participants whose dietary habits and health were tracked for follow-up periods ranging from three to 18 years.

All the studies examined the concept of using a numerical score to estimate how much people stuck to the diet, called an ‘adherence score’.

The researchers found that people who stuck strictly to a Mediterranean diet had significant improvements in their health, including a 9 percent drop in overall mortality, a 9 percent drop in mortality from cardiovascular disease, a 13 percent reduction in incidence of Parkinson and Alzheimer’s disease, and a 6 percent reduction in cancer.

The researchers suggest that keeping an ‘adherence score’ based on “a theoretically defined Mediterranean diet could be an effective preventive tool for reducing the risk of mortality and morbidity in the general population.”

The results of this study have important implications for public health, particularly for reducing the risk of premature death in the general population, conclude the authors.

The findings confirm the current guidelines and recommendations from all major scientific institutions that encourage a Mediterranean-like dietary pattern for the prevention of major chronic diseases.

Source: BMJ-British Medical Journal

Diet Protects Physical and Mental Health

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Diet Protects Physical and Mental Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 11, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/09/12/diet-protects-physical-and-mental-health/2926.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Jun 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Jun 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.