Rainbow Diet - a lifestyle, not merely a diet

Rainbow Diet - a lifestyle, not merely a diet

A higher adherence to the Mediterranean lifestyle, rather than simply the diet, is associated with lower all-cause and cancer mortality in British middle-aged and older adults in a dose-response manner, according to research from the Mayo Clinic.


The Lifestyle that can protect and correct

When Chris Woollams first wrote the Rainbow Diet in 2005, there was just one research study on the Mediterranean diet. There were also mentions of this curious phenomenon, the ‘French Paradox’. What’s this? The French historically ate more fat and drank more alcohol than any other nation, but had less heart disease and less cancer.

Back in 1982, while MD of Publicis, the French Advertising Agency, Chris was staying south of Toulouse in Mielan, the birthplace of D’Artagnan, when a report in the paper said that people of this area - Gascony - consumed even higher levels of fat and alcohol and had even lower rates of cancer and heart disease.

But Chris noticed that these people lived an outdoor life, males played rugby and threw large bales of straw around, in their farming communities. Sunshine was common, shutters on the windows provided darkness at night, a sense of the local community was strong, and, of course, Catholicism put the family and community first. 

More than that, he noticed a standard snack might be to pour local extra virgin olive oil on a plate along with balsamic vinegar and black pepper and dip bread into it, or eat cornichons and black olives with a glass of red wine. Everybody seemed to have their own vegetable patch which lasted most of the year; the ‘potager’ is historic. Every weekend seemed to bring a gathering for lunch and drinks outside. If it was cold, people might head to the mountains to walk or ski.

Nature is important; organic living is important. Food is to be enjoyed - it is a crucial part of your lifestyle and your health, as is happiness and sharing. The locals take pride in the fish they have yet to cook, the quality of their coffee, the taste of their olive oil, their choice of wine, the olives they have grown and prepared themselves, and even their homemade salad dressing, from a family vinegar handed down through generations (complete with the mother).

Nothing much has changed about this attitude. The French still joke that the English kill their lamb twice. The second time by overcooking it. The French still talk about how to have ‘a good digestion’. Every cheese in the supermarket has its unpasteurised version.

Chris has now had a house on the Mediterranean for 35 years and when he wrote the first edition of the Rainbow diet, he was very clear that this was a Lifestyle that could protect and correct you.

If you read his Summary of the Rainbow Diet, written more than 10 years ago, and go to What is the Rainbow Diet?, you will see that it says THE RAINBOW DIET IS A LIFESTYLE DIET.


Sardinia and the Rainbow Diet

It is a real diet, not made up, invented, and it has nothing to do with the ‘copy’ Rainbow Diet books in the USA; we have over 100 research studies now. And it has been ‘road tested’ in real life. Sardinia has more 90 and 100 year olds than anywhere else in the world. When the BBC, in their series on Sardinia, asked the lady who was 101 that day what was the secret of her success, she said that everyday she walked down to the village and had lunch with her friends, and had two fingers of red wine. She giggled. The BBC interviewer picked up on the red wine, missing the fact that she stood while all her family sat, she walked down to the village square and walked back up. She sat with nine friends of various shapes and sizes, the sun going through the awning above and increasing her melatonin levels. No one had a stick, no one wore glasses and everyone was happy and laughing.


The Rainbow Diet is NOT …


  • Making colourful fruit smoothies - (100 mls of Berry Smoothie contains 10.3 gm sugar; a Coca Cola is 10.9; not good for preventing cancer)

  • Nor is it Carrot and Apple juice (just as bad)

  • Woking colourful vegetables

  • Vegan. (It is plant-based - they eat fish, chicken and grass-fed beef)

  • Coconut oil (90% saturated fat - you think that’s good for you?)

  • Processed food, refined food, packaged food, fizzy soft drinks

  • Indoor 

  • Non-grape alcohol

  • Stressful - it is enjoyment

  • Sleeping irregularly, with light nearby

  • Cows’ dairy

  • Inorganic or unfresh (18% of food is organic and we shop every two days, or grow it ourselves)

  • Avoiding garlic, onions, ginger, walnuts and almonds

  • Eating brazil nuts and peanuts


The Mayo research said …

They studied 110,799 individuals 40 to 75 years of age from the UK Biobank cohort. All were free of Cardiovascular Disease or Cancer between 2009 and 2012. They were followed up in 2021.  

The Lifestyle measures included -

(1) Mediterranean food consumption 

(2) Mediterranean dietary habits, and,

(3) Physical activity, rest, social habits, and conviviality


What have I just been telling you?

The conclusions were that the closer you followed a Mediterranean lifestyle the lower were all-cause and cancer mortality. And, adopting a Mediterranean lifestyle adapted to the local characteristics of non-Mediterranean populations was quite possible and definitely part of a healthy lifestyle. 


Go to: the Rainbow Diet research centre





  1. Association of a Mediterranean Lifestyle With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality: A Prospective Study from the UK Biobank; Javier Moroto-Rodriguez et al; August 16, 2023 Mayo Clinic Proceedings




  Approved by the Medical Board.  Click Here




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