Are Meals From Around The Mediterranean The Best?

The latest from the Independent, ahead of the G8 summit, was that it is our diet, not medications, that will help us beat conditions like dementia.  Prevention in the first place is preferable to trying to help something with a prescription after the window of opportunity has closed.

In a letter to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt said persuading people to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil was “possibly the best strategy currently available”. Source:

Fruit and Vegetables as part of Mediterranean Diet
Image: Thilo Hilberer CC BY-ND 2.0

This week the G8 got together in London to brainstorm solutions to the effects of dementia on families and society in general.  The summit aimed to co-ordinate global action against the condition which affects many people.

Their declaration from the conference indicates that they aim to “develop a co-ordinated international research action plan” and will meet up again in 2015 to continue working on it.

Research on the Mediterranean Diet

The “mediterranean diet” has been covered before by many research studies.  The British Medical Journal undertook a meta analysis of all the research – a summary of the summaries, in order to see if they could produce an overall finding.

Greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a significant improvement in health status…[and]

These results seem to be clinically relevant for public health, in particular for encouraging a Mediterranean-like dietary pattern for primary prevention of major chronic diseases.  Source: BMJ 2008;337:a1344

So if the proof is out there, how can we increase the factors of such a diet into our own, as many older people tend to be quite stuck in their ways diet-wise?  Take a look at the video below from the New York Times to see what they say about it.

The Mediterranean Diet for Older People

The problem comes for older people, in that they may decide that cooking a hot meal for themselves can be troublesome.  Their smaller portion sizes, especially if they live alone, aren’t worth putting the cooker on for so they opt for an unhealthy cold snack or microwaveable ready meal.

Image: Wendy Mann

Some older people opt for meals-on-wheels, which can be offered through a charity or local social services, if available. But in most cases can be purchased privately from regional or national suppliers such as wiltshire farm foods or oakhouse foods. But do these meals contain the right ingredients knowing what we now do about the role of diet in health promotion?

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The main diet is that typically consumed by coastal dwelling people in Spain, Crete and Southern Italy.  In summary it is to eat more fish and poultry, less dairy, more fruit and vegetables, less cakes, sweets or processed foods and to have a little red wine in moderation. This link here goes to an article written by Dr. Gordon Brooks, that covers a summary chart, together with good advice on how you can go about adapting to eating this diet, making a point of gradually transitioning to it.

How are you doing when you compare your diet to the Mediterranean one? Take the quiz at this link and let us know in the comments what you think of it.