A number of recent studies support the beneficial effects of sustaining a Mediterranean diet throughout life. Each of these studies was published in the first quarter of 2017.
In general, a Mediterranean diet includes consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains (mostly whole), olive oil, beans, nuts, Legumes (soybeans/edamame, peanuts, dried beans, dried peas, chickpeas, lentils), seeds, herbs and spices, fish and seafoods, poultry, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and red wine in moderation. In general, a pyramid could be constructed from the above list with the largest consumption of those items first on the list and narrowing consumption as you move to the end of the list.
Researchers at The Ohio State University investigated whether the well-established connection between body weight and chronic pain could be explained by inflammation in the body. The study results identify anti-inflammatory foods including fish, nuts and beans as keys to preventing or reducing that pain. Further, the researchers find that a healthy diet explains the link between weight and pain and specifically that seafood and plant proteins such as peas, nuts and beans play a major role.
A study by researchers at the University of Barcelona, explores whether Mediterranean dietary patterns can be related to a lower diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The study is the first scientific work dealing with the relation between the Mediterranean diet and ADHD in children and adolescents. Previous scientific studies have associated some dietary patterns (diets with processed food and low in fruit and vegetables) with ADHD. It also is known that an unbalanced dietary pattern can lead to deficiencies in essential nutrients (iron, zinc, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, etc.) for the cognitive and physical growth that seem to play an essential role in the causation of ADHD. The Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and healthy fats, provides most of the nutrients in the right proportion. In this study, the researchers point out that the relation between an unhealthy diet and ADHD could also be an example of reverse causation. “We don’t know if these kids suffer from ADHD due an unhealthy diet or if the disorder makes them eat an excess of fat and sugar to balance their impulsiveness or emotional distress.” In other words, they find a vicious circle: the impulsiveness of children with ADHD makes them eat unhealthily, and therefore they do not eat the nutrients they need, worsening their symptoms.
A third new study shows that older people who followed a Mediterranean diet retained more brain volume over a three-year period than those who did not follow the diet as closely. But contrary to earlier studies, eating more fish and less meat was not related to changes in the brain. Researchers gathered information on the eating habits of 967 Scottish people around age 70 who did not have dementia. The participants varied in how closely their dietary habits followed the Mediterranean diet principles. People who didn’t follow the Mediterranean diet as closely were more likely to have a higher loss of total brain volume over the three years than people who followed the diet more closely.