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Mediterranean Diet May Help Reduce Complications of Type 2 Diabetes

The Mediterranean diet is well known for helping prevent disease, and research suggests it may also be helpful for people who already have chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. In this review, researchers analyzed existing studies (including randomized clinical trials as well as cohort studies) to see how the Mediterranean diet impacted patients with type 2 diabetes. They found that the Mediterranean diet can help reduce risk factors of diabetes complications, such as high blood pressure, inflammation, diseased blood vessels (angiopathy) and poor blood sugar control.
Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020 Apr 7. doi: 10.1007/5584_2020_513. (Gonçalves Tosatti JA et al.)

Mediterranean Diets Show Blood Pressure Reduction after 1 Year, While Benefits of Other Popular Diets Largely Fade Over Time

Diets can be difficult to stick to over extended periods of time, and the health benefits aren’t always long lasting. In this study, researchers analyzed 121 studies encompassing 21,942 people looking at the impacts of 14 popular diets (Mediterranean diet, low carb diet, low fat diet, etc.) after 6 months and 12 months. After 6 months, most of the diets resulted in a modest weight loss as well as improvements in blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. However, after 12 months, weight loss had diminished, and only those on a Mediterranean diet continued to see lower blood pressure.
BMJ. 2020 Apr 1;369:m696. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m696. (Ge L et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Healthier Vitamin D Levels

A traditional Mediterranean diet includes frequent seafood and frequent but small portions of dairy foods, leaving some to wonder how a Mediterranean diet relates to markers of bone health. In this study, researchers analyzed the diets and vitamin D levels (using 25(OH)D blood levels) of 284 overweight and obese adults in Italy. Vitamin D levels in the blood are important to study, as they can indicate whether someone’s bones are strong or at risk of osteoporosis. Those most closely following a Mediterranean diet were significantly more likely to have higher vitamin D levels, as well as to have healthier BMI, waist size, insulin levels, and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood). Seafood, which is abundant in the Mediterranean diet, is an important source of vitamin D, and the authors suggest that vitamin D may partially explain the Mediterranean diet’s protective effect on osteoporosis.
Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Mar 29;1-7. doi: 10.1080/09637486.2020.1744533. Online ahead of print. (Zupo R et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Better Lung Function in Aging

Lung function gradually declines with aging, but certain lifestyle changes may be able preserve lung function for a longer period of time. In a study of more than 2,000 adults ages 50+, those most closely following a Mediterranean diet had better lung function (as measured by peak expiratory flow rate) than those not following a Mediterranean diet, even after adjusting for factors like age, smoking history, and physical activity. When looking at specific foods, grains, dairy foods, and fish were all linked with better lung function.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2020 Mar 23:1-6. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2020.1740114. [Epub ahead of print] (Papassotiriou I et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Better Outcomes in Kidney Transplant Patients

A well-balanced diet is one of the best ways to set our bodies up for good health down the road, and transplant patients are no exception. In this study of 632 adult kidney transplant recipients, those most closely following a Mediterranean diet had a 32% lower risk of graft failure and kidney function decline, and a 26% lower risk of graft loss (graft being the term for the transplanted kidney).
Clinical Journal of the American Society for Nephrology. 2020 Feb 7;15(2):238-246. doi: 10.2215/CJN.06710619. (Gomes-Neto AW et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Better Brain Function in Men with Heart Disease

The Mediterranean diet is well-known for its links to brain health, and new research demonstrates that these ties hold up in populations with heart disease as well. In this study, researchers analyzed the diets of 200 men (average age 57), then assessed their brain health 14 and 20 years later. Not following a Mediterranean Diet was linked with a greater decline in overall cognitive performance and visual spatial functions.
Nutritional Neuroscience. 2020 Jan 22:1-9. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2020.1715049. (Lutski M et al.)

Cooking Olive Oil at Lower Temperatures Retains More of the Healthy Polyphenols

Olive oil is famously healthy due in part to its polyphenol content, and researchers wonder if cooking the olive oil degrades any of its nutritional properties. In this study, research tested the phenolic content of olive oil after sautéing it at medium (about 250°F) and high (about 340°F) temperatures on the stovetop over various periods of time (15-60 minutes) to replicate home cooking. They found that temperature had a much bigger impact than time, and that cooking at a medium temperature on the stovetop decreased polyphenol content by 40%, and that cooking at a high temperature on the stovetop decreased polyphenol content by 75%. Nonetheless, they found that cooked olive oil still meets the parameters of the EU’s health claim, as it still has the level of polyphenols necessary to prevent LDL oxidation. (LDL oxidation is the creation of a dangerous type of cholesterol that can clog arteries).
Antioxidants. 2020 Jan 16;9(1). pii: E77. doi: 10.3390/antiox9010077. (Lozano-Castellón J et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Lower Risk of Later-Onset Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are both types of inflammatory bowel diseases that cause serious digestive discomfort in people. In this study, scientists followed two large cohorts of people (83,147 total) aged 45-79 years old, assessed their diet, then monitored them for 17 years to see if they developed Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Those most following a Mediterranean diet were up to 58% less likely to get Crohn’s disease over the study period, but the results were not statistically significant for ulcerative colitis.
Gut. 2020 Jan 3. pii: gutjnl-2019-319505. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2019-319505. (Khalili H et al.)

Mediterranean Diet Linked with Better Quality of Life in Adults with Type 1 Diabetes

Food choices can impact not only the nutrients we take in, but also our overall quality of life. In this study, researchers analyzed the diets of 258 adults with type 1 diabetes and surveyed them about their quality of life. Those closely or even moderately following a Mediterranean diet were more likely to have a better diabetes-specific quality of life than those not following a Mediterranean diet. Following a more general healthy diet (as measured by the alternate Healthy Eating Index) had mixed results on quality of life, scoring highly in some categories, but low in others.
Nutrients. 2020 Jan 2;12(1). pii: E131. doi: 10.3390/nu12010131. (Granado-Casas M et al.)

Chili Pepper Linked with Longevity in Italian Adults

Chili pepper is an underappreciated aspect of a Mediterranean diet. To see how it relates to longevity in a Mediterranean population, researchers analyzed the diets of 22,811 Italian adults and monitored their health outcomes for 8 years. Those eating chili pepper at least 4 times per week were 23% less likely to die from all causes and 34% less likely to die from heart disease over the study period, even after controlling for the benefits of a Mediterranean diet. The relationship seems to be strongest in people without high blood pressure.
Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2019 Dec 24;74(25):3139-3149. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2019.09.068. (Bonaccio M et al.)

Healthy Diets Linked with Healthy Gut Microbiome in Patients with Intestinal Issues

The species of bacteria that live in our gut are thought to impact our health, so researchers wonder if diet might impact the gut microbiome of people burdened by intestinal disorders. In this study, researchers analyzed the gut microbiome of 4 different groups of people (including a general population, patients with Crohn’s disease, patients with ulcerative colitis, and patients with irritable bowel syndrome). They found that diets rich in bread, legumes, fish, and nuts were linked with lower levels of inflammatory markers and lower levels of potentially harmful aerobic bacteria. On the other hand, diets rich in meat, fast food, and sugar were linked with higher inflammatory markers. (Note that findings presented at meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.)
Presentation at UEG Week Meeting. Barcelona. October 21, 2019. (Bolts L et al.)

Healthy Diets Like Mediterranean Diet Linked with Lower Risk of Hearing Loss

Conversations, TVs at normal volume, and most social activities occur at mid-range frequency of sound. Therefore, mid-range hearing loss can make it difficult to communicate in day-to-day life. In this study, researchers followed 3,135 women who were an average of 59 years old and followed them for 3 years assessing their eating habits and hearing capability. Those most closely following a Mediterranean diet, a general healthy diet (as measured by the Alternate Healthy Eating Index), or a DASH Diet (a diet for healthy blood pressure that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy) were 23-28%, 23-28%, and 25-29% less likely, respectively, to develop mid-range hearing loss than those not following those diets. The relationship with low-frequency and high-frequency hearing loss was not statistically significant. 
American Journal of Epidemiology. 2019 Oct 14. pii: kwz223. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwz223. (Curtain SG et al.)

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