The Mediterranean Diet - probably the healthiest diet in the world

The Mediterranean Diet - probably the healthiest diet in the world

The CANCERactive recommended ’Diet and Lifestyle plan’

It may seem quite normal nowadays to talk of the colourful Mediterranean Diet as the healthiest diet in the world, but 13 years ago when Chris Woollams first advocated it for people with cancer, this colourful, lifestyle diet was barely even acknowledged. A couple of studies from Harvard Medical School suggested some potential, but that was all.

 

What also fascinated Woollams was the French Paradox – namely, that the French eat more fat and drink more alcohol than any other nation but have less cancer and less heart disease. His Oxford University biochemistry and medical background was further intrigued when visiting his old French Tutor in a farming community near Tarbes in Gascony and found the locals intently reading a research study in the daily Newspaper. This proclaimed that people of Gascony ate even more fat (think cassoulet and foie gras) and drank even more alcohol (think Armagnac) than people in other regions of France – and had even lower rates of cancer and heart disease.

 

And so Chris started writing articles about the Mediterranean Diet, especially with cancer, and then he penned ‘The Rainbow Diet – and how it can help you beat cancer’.

Go To: The Rainbow Diet and how it can help you beat cancer

 

In 2006, when it was written, this book was a revelation – it advocated a diet of high fat (but 70:30 good unsaturated to bad saturated), lowish but whole carbs, and plenty of nuts, seeds and colourful fruit and vegetables as a start point; it even encompassed lifestyle, sunshine, exercise and moderate red wine consumption.

CANCERactive Guidelines for increasing cancer survival  

The Rainbow Diet and Exercise are two crucial planks of the CANCERactive guidelines for cancer survival. But we are not alone in this view. In the USA, the American Cancer Society conducted research on stage 3 cancer patients, all of whom had had chemo and surgery. Those who adhered most closely to the ACS guidelines on Diet and Exercise had 31% less cancer recurrence, and 42% less deaths in the seven years the study ran for. Their guidelines are almost exactly those of CANCERactive.


 

The real-life Mediterranean Diet

 

 

 

 

It is important to add two further points.

 

 

 

 

 

1. There is no such thing as a single Mediterranean Diet, any more than there is a single United States Diet. People on the South shore of the Mediterranean in Algeria, Morocco and Egypt, do not really eat an identical diet to the inhabitants of the North shore between Barcelona and Naples.

 

 

 

 

 

2. The fats of the Barcelona to Naples inhabitants are not saturated – little consumption of cows’ dairy or beef and lamb is evident historically. The fats are most usually cold-pressed olive oil, nut and seed oils and fish oils.

 

 

 

 

 

And so the Rainbow Diet is, more correctly, a fusion of the research into the French Paradox, and the research into the diet of the North shore of the Med.

 

 

 

 

 

The Mediterranean Diet – How to live illness-free, longer

 

 

 

 

 

There is no need to fabricate anything about the colourful Mediterranean Diet - the Rainbow Diet.

 

 

 

 

 

It is what it is; it’s there for all to see. It’s not ’gluten-free’ or ’lactose-free’.They do eat croissants and bread, they do eat pasta and whole grain foods and traditionally they did work in boats or in the fields, experiencing perhaps too much sunshine and then too much red wine.

 

 

 

 

 

But over the last decade or so there have been a great number of research studies consistently arguing for the health benefits. For example:

 

 

 

 

 

    1. Data on first chronic illness and average age at death in Europe shows that the British live to 75.6 years on average but their first chronic illness comes around the age of 60. In Italy, life expectancy is 77.7 and the first chronic illness occurs around the age of 75.

 

 

 

 

 

    2. A 15-year worldwide study of women over 50 years of age showed that those who adhered most closely to the colourful Mediterranean Diet were 40 per cent more likely to reach 70 years of age than non-adherers, and were free of 11 chronic illnesses at the end of the study.

Go to study: Rainbow Diet linked to less chronic illness, greater longevity

(http://annals.org/aim/article/1763229/association-between-dietary-patterns-midlife-health-aging-observational-study)

 

 

 

 

 

The colourful Mediterranean Diet - key features

 

 

 

 

 

1. The Rainbow Diet is a Lifestyle diet:

 

 

 

 

 

     a. Vitamin D. The sunshine vitamin. Obviously, it is better to go in the sunshine for 4 hours a day than take 5,000IUs of supplement, but some people don’t really have a choice.

 

 

 

 

 

     b. Exercise. Traditionally, people moved more and sat less - in line with the latest research, we believe people should at least try to take light to moderate exercise, where they get out of breath, almost every day of their lives. Do not sit still for more than an hour; get up and move for 5 minutes. Try to walk 10,000 steps a day. But exercise doesn’t just increase blood oxygen; it produces endorphins which neutralize stress hormones. Yoga is one of the best endorphin producing exercises. 

 

 

 

 

 

     c. Drink red wine. While we also know that too much alcohol is a bad thing, wine (particularly red wine matured on the skins and seeds) has real health benefits – one large glass of red wine a day and 5 a week maximum, with meals, not on its own.

 

 

 

 

 

     d. Enjoy your food. Have more meals with family and friends. Eat slowly, talk and laugh.

 

 

 

 

 

     e. Sleep properly: Mediterranean rooms traditionally were dark, even shuttered, with no artificial light, EMFs, phones and TVs in them. Get 7 hours minimum per night.

     f.
Learn to be calm. Worry beads, chess or draughts, sipping a small coffee for an hour, reading the paper, wandering round the market. It distresses the body, just like Meditation.

 

 


2. Eat more good fat and oil: Particularly ‘healthy fat’ from extra virgin olive oil, daily nuts (like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts) and seeds (like pumpkin, sunflower and sesame), fresh fish and avocado. However, if it is cardiovascular disease rather than cancer you are concerned about, animal fat is not the ‘bad’ fat it is made out to be. Think about eating unpasteurised cheeses. But always aim to have healthy fats outweigh the saturated, 70:30. Your HDL should be 70:30 LDL too.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Eat whole carbs: Replace the refined carbs. Carbohydrate should ideally be limited to whole, unrefined carbs like whole oats, whole brown rice and jacket potatoes. Sugar and refined carbs are predominantly bad for you; for example they fuel inflammation in the body. Packaged food, processed food, white bread, pasta, cake, biscuits, bought fruit juices, ice cream, and sweet ‘puddings’ played little part in the Traditional Mediterranean Diet, unless made with raw honey (like Baklava). They are also on many American cancer hospitals’ ’foods to avoid’ lists.

Go to: The Rainbow Diet Research Centre

 

 

 

 

 

4. Switch from meat to fish: There are few cows along the North shore of the Med. What meat there was, scrambled up rocky hills. So, eat more fish - think tuna, mackerel, sardines. Unfortunately people just don’t eat enough fish these days, so think about a fish or krill oil supplement. Research shows we do not eat as much oily fish as we think we do.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Eat plenty of deeply colourful, naturally fibrous vegetables: A variety of salad leaves from chicory and watercress to herbs like coriander (cilantro) and rosemary, fennel, onions (red onions, spring onions), garlic, red and yellow peppers, radishes, beetroot. Eat fruits like tomatoes, apricots and peaches. Always eat more vegetables than fruits.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Eat more legumes: Pulses like red kidney beans, lentils, chick peas.

7. Eat more herbs and spices. Oregano, basil, coriander, rosemary, black pepper, garlic, turmeric. The markets on the coast in the South of France and Italy are full of these health-giving, microbe-killing, vitamin-rich foods.

 

 

 

 

 

8. Graze: Eat 5 small meals a day when you are not entertaining. Snack on your nuts and seeds, avocados or humus. Perhaps a piece of goat’s cheese, or an apple. A little dark chocolate is good for your gut bacteria too.

9. Drink more water. Indeed, make water your normal ’soft’ drink and avoid diet and normal sodas, fizzy soft drinks and bought fruit juices.

 

 

 

 

 

There is far, far more information in our book, ‘The Rainbow Diet’ including a shopping cart, a points system and a full list of the many foods you can eat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing your diet to beat cancer
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