A strict Mediterranean diet can help reduce deaths from major chronic diseases

Sticking to a full Mediterranean diet provides substantial protection against major chronic diseases.

Here is more evidence that a Mediterranean diet is healthy.  A review of numerous studies shows that people who follow this diet live longer and are less likely to develop chronic disease, including Alzheimer's.

The Mediterranean diet continues to look like a good bet for the HD community.

Marsha L. Miller, Ph.D.
Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health status: meta-analysis
Francesco Sofi, Francesca Cesari, Rosanna Abbate, Gian Franco Gensini, Alessandro Casini
press release:
A strict Mediterranean diet can help reduce deaths from major chronic diseases

Sticking to a full Mediterranean diet provides substantial protection against major chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer and Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published on bmj.com today.

A 'score' based on adherence to the Mediterranean diet could be used as an effective preventive tool for reducing the risk of premature death in the general population, say the authors.

The Mediterranean diet from populations bordering the Mediterranean Sea has a reputation for being a model of healthy eating and contributing to better health and quality of life. It is rich in olive oil, grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and fish, but low in meat, dairy products and alcohol.

Previous research on the Mediterranean diet suggests that it has a protective role in cardiovascular disease and cancer, but no study has reviewed all the available data for a possible association between sticking to the Mediterranean diet, premature death, and the occurrence of chronic diseases in the general population.

A team of researchers from the University of Florence assessed 12 international studies, which collectively included more than 1.5 million participants whose dietary habits and health were tracked for follow-up periods ranging from three to 18 years.

All the studies examined the concept of using a numerical score to estimate how much people stuck to the diet, called an 'adherence score'.

The researchers found that people who stuck strictly to a Mediterranean diet had significant improvements in their health, including a 9% drop in overall mortality, a 9% drop in mortality from cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduction in incidence of Parkinson and Alzheimer's disease, and a 6% reduction in cancer.

The researchers suggest that keeping an 'adherence score' based on "a theoretically defined Mediterranean diet could be an effective preventive tool for reducing the risk of mortality and morbidity in the general population."

The results of this study have important implications for public health, particularly for reducing the risk of premature death in the general population, conclude the authors.

The findings confirm the current guidelines and recommendations from all major scientific institutions that encourage a Mediterranean-like dietary pattern for the prevention of major chronic diseases.

journal abstract:

Objective:

To systematically review all the prospective cohort studies that have analysed the relation between adherence to a Mediterranean diet, mortality, and incidence of chronic diseases in a primary prevention setting.

Design:

Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. DATA SOURCES: English and non-English publications in PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from 1966 to 30 June 2008. Studies reviewed Studies that analysed prospectively the association between adherence to a Mediterranean diet, mortality, and incidence of diseases; 12 studies, with a total of 1 574,299 subjects followed for a time ranging from three to 18 years were included.

Results:

The cumulative analysis among eight cohorts (514,816 subjects and 33,576 deaths) evaluating overall mortality in relation to adherence to a Mediterranean diet showed that a two point increase in the adherence score was significantly associated with a reduced risk of mortality (pooled relative risk 0.91, 95% confidence interval 0.89 to 0.94). Likewise, the analyses showed a beneficial role for greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular mortality (pooled relative risk 0.91, 0.87 to 0.95), incidence of or mortality from cancer (0.94, 0.92 to 0.96), and incidence of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease (0.87, 0.80 to 0.96).

Conclusions:

Greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a significant improvement in health status, as seen by a significant reduction in overall mortality (9%), mortality from cardiovascular diseases (9%), incidence of or mortality from cancer (6%), and incidence of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease (13%). These results seem to be clinically relevant for public health, in particular for encouraging a Mediterranean-like dietary pattern for primary prevention of major

BMJ 2008 Sep 11:337