How a Mediterranean Diet Can Combat Health Problems From Air Pollution
8 minute read
There is a reason that people from the Mediterranean have long lifespans. The typical Mediterranean diet is heart healthy and promotes overall good health as well.
The good news is that you don’t have to live there to eat Mediterranean foods. In fact, this diet can keep you healthy in your own city by doing more than just protecting your heart.
Studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet can even protect you from the hazards of air pollution. Here’s what you need to know about air pollution and the many benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
Why Mediterranean Is Better
Long-term exposure to air pollution is hazardous to one’s health, but switching up your diet can reduce the impact it has on you. At the same time you protect yourself from heart disease, stroke, and other serious diseases too.
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It is the high antioxidant level in Mediterranean diets that is responsible for providing protection from harmful air pollutants.
The foods of a Mediterranean diet are full of antioxidants, which are beneficial compounds that neutralize and scavenge free radicals. If left uncontrolled, these free radicals cause serious cell and tissue damage known as oxidative damage.
Mediterranean diets are typically rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fresh fish, and olive oils. There is also a lack of red meats and processed foods that are typically common to the Western diet.
A recent study looked at the relationship between eating a Mediterranean diet and the impact of air pollution on health. Groups that strictly followed the diet and those that did not were studied in cities known to have high exposure to air pollutants.
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There were more cardiovascular-related deaths as well as general deaths among those that did not follow the diet as compared to those who did.
This makes sense given that air pollution from fossil fuels is known to cause both inflammation and oxidative damage. This study indicates that a diet rich in antioxidants will provide more protection against these conditions, thereby reducing the risks of disease.
This could be beneficial in improving lives across the country given the number of cities and towns in the United States that are prone to heavy air pollution.
Bringing Out Your Mediterranean Side
Exposure to air pollution these days is almost a regular occurrence, so it is useful to know that eating more Mediterranean foods can help protect you from the associated hazards.
Eating Mediterranean fare can do more for your health, because air pollution is not the only threat to your health out there. Inflammation and oxidative damage can be triggered by any number of things, and this does seem to be an efficient and natural way to combat them both.
Here are some of the benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet:
1. Low processed food intake: Being almost all natural, the Mediterranean diet restricts processed and sugar-laden foods. This means you avoid GMOs, additives, and preservatives that can negatively impact your health.
2. Healthy weight loss: This diet is both sustainable and worthwhile, giving you all the nutrients you need without leaving you hungry. Focusing on healthy fats and high-quality protein foods, you get more efficient energy consumption than when eating sugars and carbohydrates.
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You get more nutrient-dense foods that fill you up, so you can avoid overeating and leave the empty-calorie snacks behind.
3. Promote heart health: The high omega-3 content in Mediterranean diets is specifically what promotes heart health. Olive oil not only reduces blood pressure and cholesterol, but the omega-3 content protects your heart and reduces the risk of heart attack by as much as thirty percent.
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Olive oil helps prevent hypertension by making nitric acid more bioavailable which keeps your arteries dilated and clear.
4. Prevent cancer: Plant-based foods deliver powerful antioxidants, which help to protect against DNA damage and also stop cell mutation. The Mediterranean diet happens to contain a wide variety of such vegetables, which means your risk for cancer can be significantly reduced on this diet.
Plant antioxidants also help to prevent inflammation and oxidative damage, which are both associated with an increased risk of cancer.
Specifically, this diet helps to control insulin, which is the hormone that in turn controls blood sugar levels. Excess insulin can cause excess blood sugar, which contributes to weight gain and the development of diabetes.
In addition to this, when your body is using healthy fats for energy instead of sugar, your metabolic processes run more efficiently, and you are more energized, too.
6. Boost brain health: Healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids associated with the Mediterranean diet help to protect your brain from neurodegeneration. Cognitive decline is reduced by ensuring your brain gets enough dopamine and by preventing inflammation and oxidative damage that can harm brain cells.
Eating a Mediterranean diet is thought to be a tasty and natural way to ward off or treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and boost overall cognitive performance.
7. More relaxation: Not only does the amount of time spent outdoors in Mediterranean countries help people to avoid stress, but their diet has some influence too. Traditionally the meals are eaten outdoors with family, taking time to enjoy the company as much as the food.
By incorporating the style into your life, you get to enjoy great food, great company, and a relaxed experience at every meal.
8. Live longer: With less stress, less oxidative damage, and less inflammation, your body is going to be in pretty good shape. Your heart, brain, and every other major organ are protected and can function at optimal levels, which gives you a clean bill of health for even longer.
The Bottom Line
Eat, drink, and live your fullest life by eating Mediterranean. This diet is full of nutrients and essential health benefits to enhance quality of life and longevity.
It has long been one of the healthiest diets known to mankind and it is time that everybody got on board. Since cars and factories don’t seem to be going anywhere soon, doing everything you can to mitigate the deleterious effects of air pollution has never been so important, or tasty.