The Mediterranean Diet continues to garner accolades from doctors and nutritionists as the list of common health issues it can ameliorate continues to grow. Now, researchers say adopting the Med Diet can significantly reduce bone loss from osteoporosis – a serious concern for older people…
What they did…
Some 1,142 people aged between 65 and 79, from Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland and France, took part in the trial, and volunteers were randomized into two groups — one which followed a Mediterranean diet and a control group which did not.
Bone density was measured at the start and after 12 months. The diet had no discernible impact on participants with normal bone density, but it did have an effect on those with osteoporosis.
What they found…
People in the control group continued to see the usual age-related decrease in bone density, but those following the diet saw an equivalent increase in bone density in one part of the body — the femoral neck. This is the area which connects the shaft of the thigh bone to its rounded head, which fits in the hip joint.
“This is a particularly sensitive area for osteoporosis as loss of bone in the femoral neck is often the cause of hip fracture, which is common in elderly people with osteoporosis,” notes UK study Lead Investigator Prof. Susan Fairweather-Tait, from University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School. “Bone takes a long time to form, so the 12-month trial, although one of the longest to date, was still a relatively short time frame to show an impact. So the fact we were able to see a marked difference between the groups even in just this one area is significant.”
Med Diet refresher…
If you’ve missed earlier posts here about the Mediterranean Diet, let me offer a quick refresher course. It’s simply described as a diet rich in Fruits, Veggies, Nuts, Whole Grains, Olive Oil, and fish and seafood.
The Med Diet could be Called the Italian, French, Spanish or North African Diet, because most of the countries surrounding the Med adhere to it as a cultural norm.
I has already been hailed as an aid to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Why wouldn’t you switch?
Why isn’t everyone switching to the Med Diet? Cultural norms and traditions are very strong influences, especially when it comes to something as basic as what we eat. Even those in relatively wealthy communities with access to literally a world of foods loathe to give up the eating traditions they grew up with for something markedly different. Some complain that the Med Diet would limit their dining to a relatively narrow menu, compared to the wider, more diverse ‘international’ diet they enjoy.
But there’s another side to the coin. Those on fixed incomes – often older people – and those in the lower income brackets simply can’t afford to follow he Med Diet Consider the high and still rising costs of Produce, Fish and Seafood – the backbones of the Med Diet. This phenomenon also extends to other areas, where low-income families often must make menu decisions based on what they can get for with restricted funds they have for food, and still feed an entire family. It’s been noted that people in these circumstances often choose less healthy, processed foods that often contain a pile of additives which aren’t too good for us, either.
It’s been observed by MDs that their patients have heard of the Med Diet and its benefits, but don’t make the switch until after they’ve been diagnosed with a condition that might have been headed off had they started the Med Diet earlier in their lives. That’s like ‘closing the barn door after the horse has fled’, my dear departed old Dad would have said. More often, today, the home security people bemoan the fact that many people don’t get burglar alarms and cameras installed until after they’ve had a break-in.
The answer for most folks – for whom money is not a limitation – is usually a modified Med Diet with more of the Med ingredients, though still punctuated with Red Meat and other more familiar, non-Med foods.
Take a look at the Med Diet and see if you can incorporate some, if not all, of its foods in your daily dining plans.
~ Maggie J.