The Mediterranean diet is in the news again. Research suggests that people who follow a Mediterranean style diet have better cognitive skills as they age. Foods that help the brain to stay young longer include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, fish, and healthy fats.
If you think you’re on the Mediterranean diet because you eat spaghetti give yourself a shake. This diet is more than the foods you eat; it’s a lifestyle; and an active one at that.
In addition to eating healthy back to the basics in the food department the lifestyles of people following a Mediterranean style of living include exercise as part of their day and an anti-stress approach to life.
To really follow this diet is to embrace the whole package. If we just keep focusing on what the people eat on the Mediterranean diet we are missing out on the whole picture.
We need to include important factors like their attitude towards life, relationships, customs, geography; even the weather plays a role in their long term health. Factor in the fresh seasonal food they eat and you have a lifestyle that is hard to replicate in Canada.
It would be fabulous if we could uproot and live in Italy, Spain or Greece. So what’s a regular person living in Canada to do?
Here are some pointers to incorporate into your daily living to reap the rewards of our Mediterranean friends:
· Ditch your car and walk more often.
· Do errands on foot
· Get off the subway or bus two or three stops sooner and walk the rest of the way
· Regularly walk in a park
· Turn off the TV and your computer in the evening and spend more time with family and friends
· Pursue hobbies
· Read more
· Meditate, attend church, and work on your spiritual life
· Volunteer — help others
· Do one act of kindness every day
· Up your intake of vegetables and fruits
· Only eat whole grains. For example: oats, barley, cornmeal, brown rice, quinoa, 100% whole grain whole wheat.
· Eat fatty fish at least 2 to 4 times a week.
· Only eat red meat once a week
· Reduce saturated fats including high fat dairy
· Eat low fat dairy. The original Mediterranean diet included goat’s milk, cheese, and yogurt
· Limit alcohol to one drink a day for women, two a day for men
· Eat nuts as snacks
· Eat beans and legumes often
· Use heart healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
· Avoid fast food
· Avoid trans fats
· Reduce sodium levels
· Eat more back to basics foods
· And last but by no means least – Keep a positive attitude