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Mediterranean Diet Linked with Less Body Fat, Better Blood Sugar Control

Maintaining a healthy weight and healthy blood sugar control are thought to help prevent chronic diseases down the road. In a study of 142 adults, people who most closely followed a Mediterranean diet were more likely to have less body fat, better fasting blood sugar, lower insulin, and lower triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood). Other measured health differences between those who followed the Mediterranean diet and those who didn’t were not statistically significant.
Postgrad Medical Journal. 2020 Nov 12;postgradmedj-2020-138667. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2020-138667. (Kalkuz S et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Lower Risk of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction can burden health-related quality of life for both the affected men and their partners. In a study of 21,469 men in the U.S., both younger men (under 60) and older men (60+) most closely following a Mediterranean diet had a 22% and 12% lower risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction, respectively. Likewise, men eating an overall healthy diet (as measured by the Alternative Healthy Eating Index 2010) also were significantly less likely to experience erectile dysfunction.
JAMA Network Open. 2020 Nov 2;3(11):e2021701. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.21701. (Bauer SR et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Is Associated with Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

The Mediterranean diet is linked with a lower risk of diabetes, and researchers want to learn more about the mechanisms behind this protective effect. This study followed up a group of 25,317 middle-aged women without diabetes for approximately 20 years. The results indicated that those who strictly follow the Mediterranean diet tend to have a 30% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who don’t follow a Mediterranean diet. The lower risk of diabetes could be partially explained by better insulin resistance, lower inflammation, and lower cholesterol in the women who followed a Mediterranean diet, and the results were especially strong in people who were overweight at the beginning of the study.
JAMA Network Open. 2020 Nov 2; 3(11):e2025466. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.25466 (Ahmad S et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Longer Lives

The secret to longer life just might be in your kitchen. A large study of 5,094 Italian men was conducted over a seven-year period to see how their daily diets and lifestyle habits affected mortality rates. Those most closely following the Mediterranean diet were less likely to die over the study period. Additionally, the researchers also found a significant relationship between lower death risk and eating higher amounts of vegetables, proteins, fats, starch, folic acid, and monounsaturated fats from plant-based sources (mostly from olive oil). On the other hand, animal fats and sugar were linked with a greater risk of death over the study period.
Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases. 2020 Sept 24;30(10):1673-1678. doi.10.1016/j.numecd.2020.05.034 (Trevisan M et al.)

Mediterranean Lifestyle Linked with Lower Risk of High Blood Pressure in Firefighter Recruits

A Mediterranean diet based on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, olive oil, beans, and fermented dairy is a delicious blueprint for good health. However, lifestyle elements in addition to diet can also make a difference. In a study of 92 (mostly male) firefighter recruits in New England, those who most closely follow a Mediterranean lifestyle (as defined by eating a Mediterranean diet, adequate sleep, lower screen time, lower BMI, exercising, and not smoking) were significantly less likely to have high blood pressure, and were significantly more likely to have better aerobic capacity (a measure of the ability to provide oxygen to muscles).
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2020 Jul;62(7): 466–471. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001868 (Lan FY et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Healthier Gut Microbiome in Aging

Some of the worlds healthiest, longest lived people follow a Mediterranean diet, so researchers wonder about the mechanism behind its link with healthy aging. In this study, researchers analyzed the gut microbiome of 612 older European adults before starting a Mediterranean diet, and then after 1 year of following a Mediterranean diet. Those who followed the Mediterranean diet most closely had significant differences in their gut microbiome, including microbes associated with lower risk of frailty, better brain function, and lower inflammation.
Gut. 2020 Jul;69(7):1218-1228. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2019-319654. Epub 2020 Feb 17.

Healthy Lifestyle (Including Mediterranean Diet) Linked with Lower Risk of Alzheimer's

Eating a nutritious diet is one of the many daily lifestyle choices that can have an impact on our health, especially as we age. Researchers followed 2,765 adults in the Chicago area for over 5 years to see if their lifestyle choices were related to their risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. They specifically looked for these 5 healthy lifestyle factors: 1) not smoking, 2) at least 150 minutes per week of exercise, 3) low to moderate alcohol consumption, 4) following a Mediterranean-inspired healthy diet, and 5) participating in late-life “cognitive activities” like reading, crafting, playing games, and socializing. Compared with adults following 0 or 1 healthy lifestyle factor, the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia was 37% lower in those following 2 or 3 healthy lifestyle factors, and 60% lower in those following 4 or 5 healthy lifestyle factors.
Neurology. 2020 Jun 17;10.1212/WNL.0000000000009816. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000009816. (Dhana K et al.)

Spaniards Locked Down During COVID-19 Shift Back to Traditional Mediterranean Diet

Lockdowns and restaurant closures related to the global COVID-19 pandemic have swiftly changed the way people eat, leaving many people with little choice but to eat more home-cooked meals. Researchers analyzed the diets of 7,514 Spaniards during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also asked them about their eating habits before the pandemic. During the pandemic, when people were forced to eat more home-cooked meals, researchers noted that the Mediterranean diet score of these participants (a measure of how closely people follow the Mediterranean diet) significantly increased. The people who improved their diet reported eating more olive oil, vegetables, fruits, or legumes, and less fried foods, snacks, fast foods, red meat, pastries, or sweetened drinks. The authors conclude that, “this improvement, if sustained in the long-term, could have a positive impact on the prevention of chronic diseases and COVID-19-related complications.”
Nutrients. 2020 Jun 10;12(6):E1730. doi: 10.3390/nu12061730.(Rodríguez-Pérez C et al.)

Seafood and Mediterranean Diet Linked with Better Brain Health in Aging

To see how the Mediterranean diet relates to brain health, researchers analyzed the diets and health of 7,756 older adults. Those most closely following a Mediterranean diet had a significantly lower risk of cognitive impairment but did not have a significantly slower decline in cognitive function. However, those eating the most fish had both a significantly lower risk of cognitive impairment and a significantly slower decline in cognitive function.
Alzheimers Dement. 2020 Jun;16(6):831-842. doi: 10.1002/alz.12077. Epub 2020 Apr 13. (Keenan TD et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Lower Incidence of Colorectal Cancer

Healthy, higher fiber diets with whole grains can help lower the risk of colorectal cancer, so researchers wonder if overall dietary patterns, like the Mediterranean diet, might also be impactful. In an analysis of 13 studies, scientists found that most closely following a Mediterranean diet was linked with a lower frequency of new colorectal cancer cases, but there was no significant impact on the risk of death from colorectal cancer nor all-cause mortality in the study groups.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Jun 1;111(6):1214-1225. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa083. (Zhong Y et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Improves Quality of Life, BMI in Patients with IBD

The Mediterranean diet is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, so it stands to reason that the Mediterranean diet may be helpful in the management of inflammatory bowel diseases. In a study of 284 Italian adults with inflammatory bowel diseases (including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) who were assigned to a Mediterranean diet for 6 months, eating a Mediterranean diet improved their quality of life, BMI, and waist circumference and reduced signs of fat in the liver, but did not significantly impact their cholesterol or liver function.
Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2020 May 22;izaa097. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izaa097. Online ahead of print. (Chicco F et al.)

Olive Oil Linked with Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Not all fats are created equal. Olive oil is a source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and polyphenols, while butter is a source of saturated fats. In this study, researchers followed more than 90,000 people for 24 years. Those eating more than ½ tablespoon of olive oil per day had a 14-17% lower risk of heart disease compared with people who didn’t eat olive oil. The scientists also found that replacing 5g/day of butter, margarine, mayonnaise, or dairy fat with the equivalent amount of olive oil was also linked with a 5-7% lower risk of heart disease.
J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 Apr 21;75(15):1729-1739. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2020.02.036. Epub 2020 Mar 5. (Guasch-Ferré M et al.)

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