What This Nutritionist Thinks the Best Diet is for Gut Health – Mediterranean Diet 101

The Mediterranean diet is one of the most studied diets out there.

It’s based on the traditional foods that people who lived around the Mediterranean Sea ate about 50 years ago. Back then, in the mid 20th century, researchers noted that people in Spain, Greece, and Italy lived longer and healthier than Americans. And they had lower levels of heart disease, the #1 killer.

So, they set out to find what was so healthy in this part of the world. And the research keeps coming in. And it’s pretty impressive.

Eating a Mediterranean diet is linked with

  • Less excess weight and obesity (it’s better than low-fat diets)
  • Better blood sugar control (for diabetes and metabolic syndrome)
  • Lower risk of heart disease and stroke (and blood markers like cholesterol and triglycerides)
  • Reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
  • Fewer cancers (breast & colorectal)
  • Less premature death

Simply put, overall, it’s really good for you.

PRO TIP: Recent research even links the Mediterranean diet to better gut microbes! This makes sense when you feed your friendly gut microbes their favourite foods including fibre, fruit, and vegetables.

Here’s another bonus: Many people who start eating a Mediterranean diet can stick with it long-term.

How’s that for a healthy whole-foods health-promoting not-so-restrictive diet?

 

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK ON A MEDITERRANEAN DIET

 

The Mediterranean diet is chock full of healthy whole foods.

Foods like:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Fish and seafood
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Herbs and spices

 

These foods are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre. And they’re often eaten in social settings where the food (and the company) is enjoyed.

The go-to beverage for the Mediterranean diet is water. Coffee and tea are also regularly consumed (without the addition of lots of cream and/or sugar). And yes, red wine (about 1 glass per day) is very commonly enjoyed.

Some foods and drinks that are eaten in moderation include:

  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Cheese and yogurt

Red meat, unfermented dairy (e.g., milk), butter, and salt are rarely consumed, if at all.

 

WHAT TO DITCH ON A MEDITERRANEAN DIET

There are many foods and drinks that are not part of the Mediterranean diet.

Not surprisingly, this includes many highly processed and unhealthy foods like:

  • Desserts
  • Processed meats
  • Sauces and gravies
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages or fruit juices
  • Refined grains and oils (including hydrogenated oils)
  • Too much salt
  • Added sugars

And if alcohol is a problem, you can also ditch the wine.

The Mediterranean diet also incorporates a different lifestyle. Some things to ditch are being too sedentary, eating alone, and being overly stressed.

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

The Mediterranean diet is a very healthy way of eating. It is a whole-foods diet based mainly focussed on plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains). It also contains fish, olive oil, and herbs and spices. The Mediterranean diet is high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre; all of which are health-boosting from your head to your heart… and the rest of your body.

Don’t forget that health involves more than just food. The Mediterranean lifestyle also incorporates regular exercise, eating with people whom you care about, and overall enjoyment of life.

Do you think you could add or ditch certain foods to get closer to the Mediterranean diet? Do you have a favourite recipe that embodies this way of eating? I’d love to know! Let me know in the comments below.

 

RECIPE (MEDITERRANEAN): ONE PAN ROASTED DINNER
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

4 cod fillets
2 handfuls asparagus, ends removed
1 cup black Kalamata olives, drained
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
4 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
2 tsp dried dill
2 dashes freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 450ºF and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the fillets in the middle of the pan. Add the asparagus, olives, garlic, and tomatoes around the fish. (or other vegetables on hand). Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with dill and pepper.
  3. Slice lemon and place one onto each fillet. Squeeze juice from the rest of the lemon onto the vegetables.
  4. Roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
  5. Check if fillets are opaque all the way through and flake easily with a fork. If not, then cook for another few minutes. 

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip: You can substitute another fish for the cod (e.g., salmon).

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000110.htm

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-studies-on-the-mediterranean-diet#section3

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801v

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/866254

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/870593

About Me


Hi, I’m Tracy! I create food solutions to feed your life goals. I’m a Nutritionist, chocoholic + superhero fan. Mom to three, wife to one, crazy about all four, and food! When you work with me you’ll learn to savour life and nourish all that it has to offer.

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14 hours ago

Tracy Houle Nutrition
Nothing like a simple dinner with minimal ingredients and fresh flavours!

Trying to extend my trip with the flavours of Italy! 🤷🏻‍♀️😉🇮🇹

#foodie #simplerecipes #fresh #cutlets #lemon #foodmadegood #healthyfoodmadeeasy #dinner #paleo #digestionsupport #basil #ontherun #fastfood #healthy

Nothing like a simple dinner with minimal ingredients and fresh flavours!

Trying to extend my trip with the flavours of Italy! 🤷🏻‍♀️😉🇮🇹

#foodie #simplerecipes #fresh #cutlets #lemon #foodmadegood #healthyfoodmadeeasy #dinner #paleo #digestionsupport #basil #ontherun #fastfood #healthy
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Comment on Facebook

Looks delicious 😋!

2 days ago

Tracy Houle Nutrition

Well, that’s a wrap!! Our Italian family adventure has come to an end! The kids are totally bummed 🙁 out that it’s over and I’m elated that they had such a wonderful time and now miss Italy - like I always do. 🇮🇹 🙂

From the southern most point of the heel, all the way up the coast to the beautiful gargano park that is the spur, to the bustling beach side city of Pescara - and a bunch of stops along the way; Veni Vidi Vici! 😉

Here are just a few notes if you decide to venture into the beautiful country that is Italy:

1. If you venture out of the major tourist areas, expect a slower pace of life and stores to be closed in the middle of the day.

2. Don’t expect a grande latte of any sort, it’s espresso after noon only!

3. If you don’t like fish, get over it - you’ll be missing out. The fish in most parts is literally plucked from the sea within days of eating it, you won’t regret it!

4. Italians might be slow paced but you can’t tell from the driving. For some reason they seem like they are in a hurry to get stuff done when they’re on the road. 🚗

5. Bring money for shopping and make sure you have at least 10 pounds to spare in your luggage when you pack for your trip! Can’t even tell you how many shoes were bought for this family!! 👟😆 Luckily I thought ahead! 😊

6. Italians still don’t believe in queuing up, so if you see what should be a line-up but is just a mash up of people and confusion - try and have a sense of humor about it! No sense in getting frustrated about a different way of life on your vacay! But don’t be shy about telling them to get behind you! I did and they did! 😉😆

That’s it! I’m off to plan next years trip. 😉😆🇮🇹

#vacation #italy #familytrip #salento #vacaymode #rome #pescara #food #lecce #familyadventure #beachlife #heartinitaly #summer2019 #foodie #familylife #pizza #pasta #icecream @ Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore Abitazione Parroco
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Comment on Facebook

Beautiful pictures! It looks like an unforgettable time with great memories! So glad you all had a great time!

Beautiful pictures Tracy - and you pretty much summed up Italy the way I remember it 😉

6 days ago

Tracy Houle Nutrition

When folks travel to Italy the one thing you’ll alway hear about is how delicious the food is, or how foods that are not tolerated well in North America feel fine in Italy!

This trip has been no exception!

Food is still extremely valued and Italians don’t mess around with quality and freshness.

Everything we’ve eaten feels like it was picked fresh today. We’ve even eaten chicken from my husbands great-aunts backyard. (Not caught yesterday 😉)

The last picture is a huge rosemary bush that has the most beautiful aroma! 🌱

#chickencoup #tomatoes #eggplant #pomegranate #figtree #rosemary #gardenlife #growyourfood #quality #over #quantity #fresh #italylife @ Manoppello, Italy
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