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Mediterranean Lifestyle Linked to Better Mood


Mediterranean Lifestyle Linked to Better Mood

The Mediterranean is famous for its sunshine, beautiful beaches, friendly people, parties and siestas, but it is also considered to have one of the healthiest lifestyles in the world. A study by Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, associate professor of preventative medicine and public health at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has found that people adopting a Mediterranean lifestyle are happier in general.  During the study 11,800 people in Spain were asked what they ate, how much they exercised and how sociable they were.  The participants were divided into three groups.  People who usually followed a Mediterranean lifestyle, those who moderately adhered to it and those who rarely followed it. The scientists kept track of these individuals over the next eight and a half years.  The outcome of the study was that those who pursued a mostly Mediterranean lifestyle were 50 percent less likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who rarely adhered to the lifestyle.

Sánchez – Villegas said that the Mediterranean diet is usually healthier than most diets.  It includes olive oil, nuts, legumes and fish.  These food sources all contain anti-inflammatory properties.  High inflammatory levels have been linked to depression.  Exercise is also beneficial to prevent or reduce inflammation, and exercise increases endorphins.  Endorphins are our ‘happy chemicals’ which help to maintain a positive mood.  People tend to be more sociable when they pursue a Mediterranean lifestyle.  This is probably due to them feeling healthier overall.  When we are in good form we are more likely to socialise.  Heart attacks and strokes were also found to be lower in people living in Spain.

Katherine Tallmadge, a dietician and author of “Diet Simple” said “the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest diets on the planet”. Although she added. “You don’t just pour olive oil all over your dishes and think you are eating the Mediterranean diet.” The diet is mainly plant based apart from fish.  It consists of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fish which are all low in saturated fat.  Heather Mangieri, nutritionist and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association said that although nuts and seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats, we are unsure about how effectively these are absorbed in the body.  She said the best source of omega 3 is from trout, sardines and salmon.  However, salmon contains more calories than white fish, so reduce your portion size to about 3 to 4 ounces per serving.

Remember everything is about finding an equilibrium.  If you eat too much of one thing, and not enough of another, chances are you will become deficient in some vitamins and minerals.  Maintaining a well-balanced diet, meditating and doing regular exercise is the key to obtaining optimal health.

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