What are health benefits of Mediterranean diet in Nigeria? Named for the traditional eating habits in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, this diet includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, cereals, beans, nuts, and seeds, using olive oil as the primary fat and low amounts of animal proteins, usually fish over meat.
According to CNN however, a new study has found that eating the Mediterranean diet for a duration of twelve months changed the microbiome of old people, improving their brain function and supporting longevity.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is simply a way of eating based on diets that can be found in countries that are close to the Mediterranean sea.
The foods that make up this diet have long been debated since most countries or continents just go with what is available to them, but it generally consists of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and olive oil like earlier said.
The Mediterranean diet, recognised by the World Health Organisation, works wonders for the heart, protecting it from all kinds of heart disease.
Now, a new study has also found that not only does it help the heart, the Mediterranean diet also slows down the production of chemicals that can cause loss of brain function, also preventing serious diseases like diabetes and cancer.
“Our findings support the feasibility of changing the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier ageing,” the study authors said.
What Are Components Of The Mediterranean Diet?
The cuisines or foods of countries that are located around the Mediterranean sea are so diverse. And make the Mediterranean diet quite flexible.
This healthy diet includes popular cuisines from North African countries like Morocco, Algeria and Libya; Middle Eastern countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Syria; and European countries like Spain, Italy, Greece and some part of Nigeria as well with water surroundings.
People began to take to the Mediterranean diet in the 1960s. After it was discovered that fewer people died of heart disease in countries such as Italy and Greece. When compared to northern Europe and the United States.
Several studies have followed since then. Thus confirming how healthy the diet is to the human body.
However, there’s no one way to follow the diet because of its diversity, which means people in different countries use what’s available to them. But the main components include:
- Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats
- Weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs
- Moderate portions of dairy products
- Limited intake of red meat
What Are Health Benefits Of Mediterranean Diet In Nigeria
In Nigeria, people are now searching for various ways to live healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, due to its numerous health benefits, Nigerians are now adopting Mediterranean diet because of the following health benefits;
Preventing heart disease and strokes: Following a Mediterranean diet limits your intake of refined breads, processed foods, and red meat, and encourages drinking red wine instead of hard liquor—all factors that can help prevent heart disease and stroke.
Keeping you agile: If you’re an older adult, the nutrients gained with a Mediterranean diet may reduce your risk of developing muscle weakness and other signs of frailty by about 70 percent.
Reducing the risk of brain loss: Alzheimer disease is characterized by loss of brain function with age. Research suggests that the Mediterranean diet may improve cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and overall blood vessel health, which in turn may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Halving the risk of Parkinson’s disease: The high levels of antioxidants in the Mediterranean diet can prevent cells from undergoing a damaging process called oxidative stress, thereby cutting the risk of Parkinson’s disease in half.
NOTE: Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement.
Increasing longevity: By reducing your risk of developing heart disease or cancer with the Mediterranean diet, you’re reducing your risk of death at any age by 20%.
Protecting against type-2 diabetes: A Mediterranean diet is rich in fiber which digests slowly, prevents huge swings in blood sugar, and can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Are there Myths and facts about Mediterranean diet?
Following a Mediterranean diet has many benefits, but there are still a lot of misconceptions on exactly how to take advantage of the lifestyle to lead a healthier, longer life.
The following are some myths and facts about the Mediterranean diet.
Myth 1: It costs a lot to eat this way.
Fact: If you’re creating meals out of beans or lentils as your main source of protein, and sticking with mostly plants and whole grains, then the Mediterranean diet is less expensive than serving dishes of packaged or processed foods.
Myth 2: If one glass of wine is good for your heart, then three glasses is three times as healthy.
Fact: Remember that moderation is key in all you do. Though moderate amounts of red wine (one drink a day for women; two for men) certainly has unique health benefits for your heart, but drinking too much has the opposite effect. Anything more than two glasses of wine can actually be bad for your heart.
Myth 3: Eating large bowls of pasta and bread is the Mediterranean way.
Fact: Typically, Mediterraneans don’t eat a huge plate of pasta the way Americans do. Instead, pasta is usually a side dish with about a 1/2-cup to 1-cup serving size. The rest of their plate consists of salads, vegetables, fish or a small portion of organic, grass-fed meat, and perhaps one slice of bread.
Myth 4: The Mediterranean diet is only about the food.
Fact: The food is a huge part of the diet, yes, but don’t overlook the other ways the Mediterraneans live their lives. When they sit down for a meal, they don’t sit in front of a television or eat in a rush; they sit down for a relaxed, leisurely meal with others, which may be just as important for your health as what’s on your plate.
Mediterraneans also enjoy plenty of physical activity as well.
Which foods should Nigerian avoid on a Mediterranean diet?
The following foods and ingredients should be avoided on a Mediterranean diet:
- Refined grains: Refined wheat, white bread, spaghetti, noddles etc.
- Added sugar: Candies, ice cream, soda, etc.
- Refined oils: Cottonseed oil, soybean oil, canola oil and others.
- Processed meat: Processed sausages and others.
- Trans fat: This is found in factory butter and other processed foods.
- Processed food: Anything that looks like it was made out of a factory, avoid it.
As far as this wonderful diet is concerned, you will never get bored because you can choose from a wide range of cuisines to eat from.
The Mediterranean diet, though becoming popular in Nigeria, doesn’t just support healthy eating, it can work wonders on your taste buds too.