The colourful Mediterranean diet has a side-effect: Most people who switch to this natural diet start to lose weight, part of the reason being the switch from unhealthy refined carbs to healthy oils like fish oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds and avocados.
Cutting the calories and weight loss are good for you. Calorie restriction, especially where you eat 15% less calories than you need and the reduction comes from carbohydrates, is proven to improve health and longevity.
The latest study(1) by American Scientists at the Biomedical Center in LA and Florida, confirms that reducing your calorie intake, especially from refined carbohydrates, slows metabolic rate and reduces oxidative stress. This has two main effects. It reduces chronic illness risk, and increases longevity.
Oxidative stress occurs when the free radicals in your body outweigh the anti-oxidants that could neutralise them. Free radicals are molecules that rip electrons from your DNA. And oxidative stress is the precursor to damage, inflammation and chronic illness.
It’s not just that the colourful Mediterranean Diet is full of anti- oxidants from colourful plants and fruits. Fats such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Fish Oils are known to increase the numbers of gut bacteria that make anti- inflammatory molecules, as do ellagitannins from berries like strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
Calorie restriction – and especially fasting for 24 hours or more – is known to increase levels of circulating sirtuins, hormones that can slow down metabolism in cells. Resveratrol, a compound in red grapes can do this too.
The study confirmed that all this would increase lifespan.
A second recent study (2) has shown that Calorie Restriction can send your body’s defences into ‘attack mode’. A study from Notre Dame’s Harper Cancer Research Institute has shown that calorie restriction even encourages the immune system to cause autophagy of cancer cells (they ‘eat’ themselves).
Not surprisingly then, as we have covered before, a study (3) of more than 10,000 women (Nurses Study) over the age of 50 showed that those who adhered most closely to the colourful Mediterranean diet wherever they were in the world, were free of 11 chronic illnesses at the end of the 15 year study period and 40% more likely to reach 70 years of age.
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