Some of the most common conditions triggered by obesity might be mitigated or prevented by adopting the Mediterranean diet, a new meta study has found.
The researchers conducted a wide ranging review of the current scientific literature. They found that following the Mediterranean diet could yield many benefits for obese people and people at risk of obesity.
The authors of the meta study, published in Current Obesity Reports, noted that hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, several types of cancers or dyslipidemia, a lipid imbalance that often precedes cardiovascular conditions, are among the many diseases frequently diagnosed in obese people.
By reviewing the current scientific literature, the authors found that adopting the Mediterranean diet might reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, thrombosis and endothelial dysfunction.
Following the diet was also linked with weight loss, modulating the gut microbiology and improving lipid profile, immunity and insulin sensitivity.
By limiting inflammation and regulating cholesterol, the Mediterranean diet was also proven to be a practical step in cancer prevention and reducing cardiovascular disease risks.
According to the World Health Organization, 650 million adults were obese in 2016. Obesity-related diseases are estimated to kill more people than those associated with being underweight in most countries. In addition, WHO data show that 39 million children under the age of five are overweight or obese, double the amount deemed obese in 1980.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The researchers described the Mediterranean diet as characterized by a “high consumption of vegetables, fruit, nuts, cereals, whole grains and extra virgin olive oil, as well as a moderate consumption of fish and poultry and a limited intake of sweets, red meat and dairy products.”
In the meta study, the researchers analyzed the proven effects of following the Mediterranean diet on the most common obesity-related conditions.
They found that it is not associated with weight gain, even with no energy restrictions. A high-fat, unrestricted-calorie Mediterranean diet also was associated with little weight change and less central adiposity compared with a low-fat diet in the long term.
Olive oil is key component of Mediterranean diet
“It has the potential to reduce abdominal adiposity, in particular metabolically detrimental visceral fat, independently of weight loss, and can be recommended as a healthy diet choice to individuals with obesity and overweight, particularly at risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease,” the researchers wrote.
“It may be more effective in Southern European populations due to better availability of specific food products, cultural and other factors,” they added.
Another critical health factor of the Mediterranean diet is the composition of its polyphenols.
According to the researchers, “the plant based components of the Mediterranean diet contain polyphenols that have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and improve cardio-metabolic risk factors.”
“In addition, olive oil and low to moderate alcohol intake (especially red wine) also contribute to the benefits of the it via their polyphenol content,” they added.
The results of the meta-study are likely to be heralded as good news in the fight against the global obesity pandemic. Obesity is associated with a high risk of morbidity and mortality from different non-communicable diseases.
“Of interest, the negative effects of obesity are reversed in part with substantial weight loss,” the researchers wrote. “The composition of the Mediterranean diet has been related to an excellent effect on reducing dyslipidemia.”
“Additionally, the diet positively modulates the gut microbiota and immune system, significantly decreasing inflammation mediators, common ground for many obesity-related disorders,” they concluded. It is the healthiest dietary pattern available to prevent several non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Although said otherwise, the latest study found no link between the Mediterranean diet and a lower incidence of dementia.