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Mediterranean Diet

What to Eat or Mediterranean Style Diet Principals

The Mediterranean diet is widely considered an anti-inflammatory and gut-healing diet. However, there is some misconception about what constitutes a Mediterranean diet. We tend to think of pizza, pasta and red wine. The traditional Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to provide health benefits, emphasises legumes (lentils and beans), whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and nuts and seeds. That is whole food rich in plant products and fibre and phytonutrients. The composition of meat and fish in this traditional diet is less than our western diet. Instead, there is an increased plant-based protein. Our clinical naturopath Courtney White can provide nutrition plans based on the Mediterranean diet principles to help you make healthy choices. Diet is a noun, not a verb, so we are not talking about going on a diet but adopting a diet with food goals for healthy living and skin.

Mediterranean Diet vs Standard Australian Diet

Your diet and lifestyle factors determine the health of all cells in your body and the balance of gut bacteria. You and your gut microbes are literally “what you eat” and “how you live”. The goal is to nourish both. Therefore, when considering what you eat, ALWAYS consider what your resident microbiota needs to thrive. They create a virtual organ that processes and provides nutrients that we cannot and participates in every function in your body necessary for wellness. The traditional Mediterranean Diet delivers various plant fibres and antioxidants to fuel you and your microbes.

In contrast, The Standard Australian Diet  (S.A.D.)  is high in processed and refined foods, sugar, high G.I. carbs, artificial sweeteners and additives, excess animal protein, saturated fats and trans fats. It is also deficient in essential nutrients such as fibre, plant phytochemicals, healthy MUFA and PUFA oils. Combine this with a host of lifestyle factors, stress, excess exposure to environmental toxins, poor sleep and sometimes excess alcohol lead to poor gut health in our modern world.

The Mediterranean Diet Principals

  • Protein (plant + animal – emphasis on the plant)
  • Non-starchy Plants – wide selection of different coloured foods (>600 grams per day)
  • Starchy vegetables  – legumes,  grains and starchy vegetables encourage weight loss.
  • Prebiotics – soluble fibre + resistant starch
  • Probiotics – cultured foods
  • Healthy fats – olive oil (EVOO), raw nuts, avocados, fish oils
  • Generously add spices, herbs and condiments, as these contain phenomenal quantities of polyphenols. Lemon, lime juice and zest, vinegar, garlic, chilli, ginger, mustard, natural herbs, spices, and bone stock.

Core food selection for the Mediterranean Diet

The core elements of Food Selection include 20 categories of food. This diet emphasises a high content of plant-based foods, which contains fibre, phytochemicals and proteins, providing fuel for your microbiota and your body.

Some foods are found in more than one group, e.g. Legumes – high fibre, polyphenols, plant protein, low G.I. carb, non-starchy vegetable, low saturated fat and contained fats are primarily from omega 3 or 6 groups.

The most advantageous diet for gut health is a balanced human diet rich, especially in plant-based products. The enormous diversity of phytochemicals (only a minority of which are understood ) would provide the prebiotic and phytonutrients for healthy gut ecology and sufficient to activate Nrf2 – your bodies master switch for cell protection.

20 Categories of foods to be included.

Plant Foods

  1. Vegetables – a wide variety (as many colours per day) + 2 fruits to provide macro and micro-nutrients. Aim for > 600 grams per day.
  2. Prebiotic-rich plant foods
  3. Phytochemical-rich foods
  4. Foods with low Glycaemic Index and low glycaemic load
  5. Food without artificial additives
  6. Mineral-rich food
  7. Green leafy vegetables
  8. Other non-starchy vegetables
  9. Starch vegetables with prebiotic effects
  10. Legumes
  11. Nuts and seeds
  12. Culinary herbs and spices
  13. High mono-unsaturated foods
  14. Sprouted seeds and legumes
  15. Cultured/fermented food
  16. Whole grains.

Animal Foods

  1. Complete protein supplying all eight essential amino acids – fish, eggs, chicken, and grass-fed meats high in omega-3 fatty acids. ( combining legumes with grains or nuts, quinoa and amaranth are complete protein options.)
  2. Low saturated fats – minimising saturated fats of all types
  3. High omega-3 long-chain fatty acids
  4. Collagen-containing (slow-cooked meats) on the bone or broths made from these.

Lifestyle Factors

  1. Regular sleep routine
  2. Stress-reducing activities (walking, meditation, yoga, hobbies, enjoying time with friends and family)
  3. Pleasure foods occasionally (alcohol, red wine, sweets, chocolate)
  4. At least 30 minutes of brisk exercise per day
  5. Drink 2 Litre water per day ( Black, green or herbal tea as desired)

Call us on 33505447 to book a free gut health assessment with our Clinical Naturopath.