So, I thought I’d start off this blog with a question. Ok, a few questions. 16 to be exact. Going through these 16 questions could improve your health in the most delicious way. Let’s get started…how many of these apply to you?
☐ Are you 60 or older and interested in living longer with good health each day?
☐ Are you middle aged (between 50-60) and want to maintain good overall health for the next three to five decades?
☐ Do you want to lower your blood pressure?
☐ Do you want to know how to eat to halt or slow down cognitive decline, dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, or even Alzheimer’s disease? (2) (3)
☐ Are you interested in a good eating plan that will help you decrease the pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis and increase physical function? (2)
☐ Are you planning to get pregnant in the future and want to stack the “health” cards for your future child against allergies and metabolic syndrome, or your little girl from having a methylation issue which could predispose her to a host of health issues as she ages?
☐ Did your physician recommend for you to follow a traditional Mediterranean diet due to one of the health conditions above, yet you have no earthly idea on how to get started?
If you ✓’d any of the above, then it’s a perfect time to tune into Dorginac’s Better Health Blog. For the next couple of months, I am going to unpack the “ins” and “outs” of one of the highest impact, health-promoting eating plans ever researched. It’s known as the Traditional Mediterranean Diet (TMD) and we are going to travel way beyond olive oil. That said, do keep that bottle of cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil (cp-EVOO) on your table at all times.
Proven Health Benefits.
Never before in the history of nutrition research has there been more scientific investigation evaluating the connection between food, nutrients and chronic disease than in the TMD. To date, the TMD is the strongest researched eating plan that has been associated with reduced risk of developing multiple chronic diseases – both primary and secondary prevention – and increased life span. The TMD has well over 5,200 scientific studies, including randomized clinical trials, with the “omic” research marching forward to tease out just what this diet is doing to our gene expression.** Even more impressive than the sheer number of studies is the ridiculously high percentage (99.9%) of these studies that point to all of its health promoting benefits, but only when adhering to this type of eating plan…and that means not just consuming more olive oil.
** Stay tuned, I’ll be unpacking those in the next three months with recipes in between.
A Brief History Of TMD.
The TMD may be new to you, but it’s not new. It was first conceptualized almost 35 years ago in the famous Seven Country Study by Ancel Keys et al. And, many of you may not realize this, but one of the main project officers for the USA was Henry Blackburn, MD, and he was trained at “our” Tulane University School of Medicine. How do you like dat?
So, What Exactly Is The Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is an all-encompassing term used to describe dietary patterns of the populations residing on the coastal regions of the Mediterranean Sea. Many different foods exist between various countries; thus, in 1993, the International Conference on the Diets of the Mediterranean defined TMD and what it is composed of.
What Are The Features Of TMD?
So, let’s take a closer look at the specifics of this TMD eating plan.
- A variety of minimally processed whole grains and legumes as the staple food
- A huge diversity of fresh non-starchy vegetables consumed on a daily basis and with every meal
- Fresh or dried fruit at every meal
- Nuts, seeds and legumes daily
- 0-4 eggs a week
- Honey consumed only during celebratory occasions
- Cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds as the principal source of fat
- Moderate consumption of fish
- Dairy products (mainly cheese and yogurt) consumed in low amounts; butter, cream and milk never used, except for milk in coffee (caffé macchiato) or for infants
- Red and processed meat consumed in extremely low frequency (only once every week or two) and, if used, very small amounts
- Wine consumed in low to moderate amounts only with meals
In Functional Medicine, we call this type of eating plan the CardioMetabolic Plan. For more details, take a look at this comprehensive guide and generic food list of this plan. Make no mistake, a generic plan is a good framework. Dorignac’s and I will soon have it all fleshed-out in the aisles with massive choices selected by my nutrition-discerning eyes…and it will all be visually coded for your ease.
Pop Quiz…Do You Know Your Med Score?
“Liking” the TMD and “living” the TMD are two separate paradigms. Liking it certainly helps living it. But all studies show that the health benefits only come by having a high adherence to the TMD or a high MedScore. Instead of getting your smart phone app out, ask yourself these 14 questions (plus a bonus question) on a very regular basis!!!
For a downloadable and printable version of the MedScore Quiz, please click here.
In fact, make a copy and put in on your refrigerator, desk, etc. Stay mindful and ask yourself these questions before you go grocery shopping, plan a meal and go out to eat. That way, you can keep steering yourself into truly living within your health-value system and achieve your ✓’d response(s).
High scores correspond to high adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern, which provide you with the greatest benefit.
- A total of 11 or higher
This is the range of highest benefit and you are living in your health-value system.
- Scores between 8-10
This is a Moderate Score. If this was your score, take a look at Health Push-In #1.
- Scores 7 or less
Ok, so we have a little work to do. If this was your score, please see Health Push-In #2.
You Don’t Need To Travel To The Mediterranean Sea Because Dorignac’s Got Dat!
TMD is on steroids (I mean that in a good way, of course) at the Dorignac’s Food-As-Medicine Center. In the coming months, while you and I get on board and “travel” on the Mediterranean train to discover all of the motivating reasons to eat this way, Dorignac’s will be populating its aisles with more fresh organic produce, herbs, cooking seeds, spices …
… unique organic whole sprouted grains, special pastas, soba and wraps, sprouted lentils and beans, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oils from all over the world, artisan plant oils and organic grass-fed ghee and butters, limited ingredient TMD dips, marinades, glass-jarred tomato products and condiments…
… organic and unsulfured dried fruit and vegetables, yummy goat and sheep cheeses and yogurts, fresh nuts and seeds, artisan made sprouted nut butters, wild caught fresh fish, seafood, snails, and other wild game, wonderful dark chocolates, super-food beverages, Dry Farm Wine …
… you know, just a few things. Ha!
And for those wanting to do Mediterranean Vegan, Dorignac’s Got Dat with artisan designed fermented nut cheeses, fermented vegan butters and yogurts. Be on the lookout for all of the TMD logos next to the products throughout Dorignac’s. It’s all in the works as I type this!
All Aboard The Mediterranean Train!
As we take this Mediterranean journey, keep an eye open for my favorite kitchen-tested TMD recipes to help you reach a higher MedScore each week so that we can collectively turn New Orleans into a Blue Zone. Also, since I am mindful to keep my MedScore high, I’ll be sharing some of my recipes and cooking tips on the Dorignac’s Facebook page. Please share some of your creations, too. See you in the Mediterranean Zone!