5 Mistakes People Make on the Mediterranean Diet

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

July 12, 2019

In the July 8, 2019 issue of Advanced Natural Wellness, you learned how switching to a modified Mediterranean style diet can help slash belly fat, liver fatty, fat around the heart … and potentially even reverse diabetes.

But there are many pitfalls that can occur when you try to “Americanize” this way of eating.

Believe me. I see it all the time when patients first start trying to adapt to a modified Mediterranean diet.

When I first mention the switch up in eating patterns to patients, their minds tend to go in two different directions at once.

The first is, “Yay! More pasta!”

The second is, “Oh my… more vegetables!”

Only one of these statements is true. (And for the most part, everything in between seems to get lost in translation.)

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So let me clear some things up for you… certain misconceptions that could mean everything to you when it comes to rediscovering your slimmer physique, good health and living a longer and healthy life.

For centuries, Mediterranean’s nourished their bodies with the natural foods that surrounded them.

They enjoyed fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices found

Did they eat pasta?

Sure. But in no way, shape or form did pasta constitute a full meal. It was simply a small side dish (unlike the mountains of pasta found on dinner plates across the U.S.) And historically, it was nothing like the processed, refined pasta that we eat today. in the region. Nuts, beans and seeds were staples. Seafood was plentiful… and even better when accompanied by a glass of red wine. Everything was drenched in olive oil.

Did they eat pasta?

Sure. But in no way, shape or form did pasta constitute a full meal. It was simply a small side dish (unlike the mountains of pasta found on dinner plates across the U.S.) And historically, it was nothing like the processed, refined pasta that we eat today.

In other words, eating like a Mediterranean does not include loading up on spaghetti, mac and cheese, ravioli, lasagna and other pasta dishes.

This is the most common first mistake my patients encounter. And we usually get past it very quickly.

After that, we have to work through a number of other misconceptions.

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This is how they do it in the Mediterranean

There is no such thing as a low-fat Mediterranean diet. The low-fat dogma is so pervasive in America that it is hard to get beyond it. But if you want to save your life you have to.

When adopting a Mediterranean way of eating you can’t replace extra virgin olive oil with processed, GMO corn oils that can be deadly to your health.

It is not in your best interest to snack on reduced-fat chips instead of fatty nuts.

Eating a whole grain bagel is not a better choice than an egg.

Your body needs and desires healthy fats and proteins to fuel your brain, body, organs and metabolic support they need to function properly.

Red meat is not a replacement for healthy, wild-caught fish. Fish and other seafood are mainstays of the Mediterranean diet. They should be your “go to” animal protein for the majority of your meals.

Still I find that patients often decide that, as long as they are eating enough vegetables, they can skip this part of their dietary health assignment.

It is important to understand that the omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood slash inflammation, reduce brain aging, protect your heart and promote a healthy gut microbiota. (Red meat, on the other hand, is disruptive to your gut health and generally inflammatory.)

Not all Greek yogurts are created equal. Yogurt with fruit and berries makes a great breakfast treat or snack. But here’s something I’ll bet you don’t know.

There is no official standard when it comes to Greek yogurt. This means yogurt makers can “cheat” when they make them, using things like fillers, cornstarch and concentrates to thicken them up. (Plus, those with fruit on the bottom typically contain so much added sugar or artificial sweeteners that they are detrimental to your health.)

Your best bet is to go for a plain, organic, non-GMO Greek yogurt that only contains a mixture of milk products and live active yogurt cultures. Then add your own fresh fruit at home.

  • Here’s an example of an acceptable Greek yogurt ingredient list: Grade A Pasteurized Skimmed Milk and Cream, Live Active Yogurt Cultures (L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei).
  • Here is an example of one that is NOT acceptable: Cultured Grade A Non Fat Milk, Water, Blackberry Puree, Fructose, Contains Less Than 1% Of Modified Food Starch, Grape Juice Concentarte (For Color), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Malic Acid, Sucralose, Potassium Sorbate (To Maintain Freshness), Xanthan Gum, Acesulfame Potassium, Sodium Citrate, Active Yogurt Cultures L. Bulgaricus & S. Thermophilus.
  • The longer the ingredient list the less healthy the product is for you

Three or four glasses of red wine aren’t healthier than one or two. Over the years there have been plenty of positive reports about the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption.

But just because a little red wine may provide a few health benefits, it doesn’t mean drinking more will have greater benefits. In fact, regular overindulgence can undo any healthy advantages and potentially harms your health. Stick with one glass of wine a day for women, two for men.

SOURCES:

Paniagua JA, et al. Monounsaturated fat-rich diet prevents central body fat distribution and decreases postprandial adiponectin expression induced by a carbohydrate-rich diet in insulin-resistant subjects. Diabetes Care. 2007 Jul;30(7):1717-23.

Angeloni C, et al. Bioactivity of Olive Oil Phenols in Neuroprotection. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Nov; 18(11): 2230.

Afshin A, et al. Consumption of nuts and legumes and risk of incident ischemic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100(1):278-88.

Alexander DD, et al. Meta-analysis of Egg Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke. J Am Coll Nutr. 2016 Nov-Dec;35(8):704-716.

Poly C, et al. The relation of dietary choline to cognitive performance and white-matter hyperintensity in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Dec; 94(6): 1584–1591.

Pottala JV, et al. “Higher RBC EPA + DHA corresponds with larger total brain and hippocampal volumes: WHIMS-MRI study.” Neurology. 2014 Feb 4;82(5):435-42.

Fernando Gómez-Pinilla. “Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function.” Nat Rev Neurosci. Jul 2008; 9(7): 568–578.

Jackson PA, et al. “DHA-rich oil modulates the cerebral haemodynamic response to cognitive tasks in healthy young adults: a near IR spectroscopy pilot study.” Br J Nutr. 2012 Apr;107(8):1093-8.

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