Health Studies

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Reduces Age-Related Drop in Anti-Inflammatory Activity

Researchers in Quebec measured an anti-inflammatory component of HDL (“good cholesterol”) in ten young adults and ten elderly adults, and found that the older people had less anti-inflammatory activity. After 12 weeks of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) consumption, anti-inflammatory activity increased in both groups and reduced the age-related difference between the two groups.
British Journal of Nutrition. 2013 Oct;110(7):1272:84. Loued et al.

Med Diet with Low Glycemic Load May Reduce Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Researchers analyzed data from more than 22,000 participants followed over 11 years in the Greek cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) to investigate the relationship between the Mediterranean Diet, glycemic load, and occurrence of type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that people who consumed a low glycemic load diet that adheres to the principles of the Mediterranean Diet may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20%.
Diabetologia. 2013 Aug 22. [Epub ahead of print.] [Rossi, et al.]

Mediterranean Diet and Genetic Risk of Stroke

Researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University and from the CIBER Fisiopatalogía de la Obesidad y Nutritión in Spain have found that the Mediterranean Diet reduces stroke risk in people with a gene variant associated with the development of type 2 diabetes. Working with the data from the PREDIMED study, researchers identified that patients carrying two copies of the Transcription Factor 7-Like 2 (TCF7L2) gene, which is known to place patients at high risk for type 2 diabetes and suspected of connections with other diseases, had a risk factor for stroke almost three times higher than those with only one copy or no copies of the gene. But patients with two copies of the gene who adhered to a Mediterranean Diet reduced their risk for stroke to the same levels as those with one or no copies of the gene.
Diabetes Care. Epub 2013 August 13. [Corella, et al.].

Wine Consumption and Depression

Researchers in Spain followed more than 5,500 high-risk men and women of the PREDIMED Trial ages 55 to 80 for up to seven years to assess the association between alcohol consumption and depression. Participants were free of depression or a history of depression at the beginning of the study and did not have a history of alcohol-related problems. Researchers found that participants who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol (between 2 and 7 drinks per week, most commonly wine over other types of alcoholic beverages) had lower rates of depression than participants who did not consume alcohol. However, heavy drinkers appear to be at higher risk than moderate drinkers and abstainers. Dr. Miguel Ángel Martínez-González, one of the researchers for the study, commented, “If you are not a drinker, please don’t start drinking. If you drink alcohol, please keep it in the range of one or less drinks a day and consider drinking wine instead of other alcoholic beverages.”
BMC Med. 2013 Aug; 11(1):192. (Gea, et al.)

Decreased Risk of Pre-Diabetes in Spaniards Following Mediterranean Diet

Spanish researchers evaluated more than 5,000 individuals with and without diabetes or pre-diabetes and found that pre-diabetes was less frequent in those who adhered to the Mediterranean Diet. The decrease in risk remained after considering factors like weight and age that could affect the incidence of pre-diabetes.
Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2013 Jul 2; 62(4):339-346. (Ortega et al.)

Mediterranean Diet and Blood Glucose Control

A meta-analysis was conducted by a research group in the UK to evaluate the effects of the Mediterranean diet compared to other dietary patterns on measures of glycemic control irrespective of weight loss. Interventions conducted on free-living individuals were included. The Mediterranean diet had no effect of fasting plasma glucose compared to other healthy dietary patterns but improvements in H1AC were noted in those at risk of or with diabetes.
Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. [Epub June 22, 2013] (Carter et al.)

Mediterranean Diet and Bone Health in the Elderly

A group of scientists in France looked at the relationship between following a Mediterranean diet and fractures in a group of 1,400 elderly people from Bordeaux, France. Researchers collected information on diet and used it to measure how closely they were following the Mediterranean diet. After analyzing the reported fractures and comparing this with adherence to a Mediterranean diet they found no relationship between the two.
Osteoperosis International. [Epub June 20, 2013] (Feart et al.)

Lifestyle Changes Reduce Risk of Heart Disease & Death

Johns Hopkins University researchers followed more than 6,200 men and women, age 44-84, from white, African-American, Hispanic, and Chinese backgrounds for an average of more than 7 years. People who exercised regularly, ate a Mediterranean-style diet, kept a normal weight, and did not smoke had an 80 percent lower death rate over the study’s time period compared to participants with none of the healthy behaviors. Roger Blumenthal, M.D., a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, director of the Ciccarone Center, president of the American Heart Association’s Maryland affiliate, and senior author of the study says the findings “bolster recent recommendations by the American Heart Association, which call for maintaining a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and fish, keeping a BMI of less than 25, being physically active and not smoking.”
American Journal of Epidemiology. Epub 2013 June 10. [Ahmed, et al.]

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Night Sweats and Hot Flushes in Menopause

Hot flushes and night sweats are two common yet unpleasant symptoms during menopause, but no dietary recommendations have been identified to prevent them. To better understand the relationship between food and menopause, researchers in Australia followed over 6,000 middle-aged women for over 9-years, collecting information on their diet, hot flushes, and night sweats.  The scientists found that a Mediterranean style diet (characterized by garlic, peppers, mushrooms, salad greens, pasta, and red wine) and a diet high in fruit significantly decreased night sweats and hot flushes, while high-fat and high-sugar diets (characterized by sweet biscuits, cakes, jam, meat pies, and chocolate) significantly increased these symptoms.  
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013 May;97(5):1092-9. (Herber-Gast GC et al). 

Aging, Depression, and the Mediterranean Diet

A group of investigators from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago conducted a study among participants of the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP) into the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and depression among older adults. They found that in this large, biracial community greater adherence to a Mediterranean pattern of eating including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and legumes, was associated with a decreased likelihood of developing depressive symptoms over time. The link between the Mediterranean diet and mental health may be found in a number of dietary components of the diet like B-vitamins, antioxidant nutrients, and fat components.
The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. 2013; 17(5):441-445. (Skarupski et al.)

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