Tag Archives: Food Allergies

Mediterranean Diet Is Not for Everyone

For the past few weeks I have been talking about the merits of the Mediterranean Diet. However, I have to acknowledge that no diet is perfect for every single person and Mediterranean diet is no exception to that rule. The Mediterranean Diet is not for everyone.

There may be some people who find that they have negative reactions to some of the foods on the diet – others may find that it simply is not suitable for their lifestyle.

Excellent Choice for Most People

Explaining the Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

However, it is an excellent choice for most people because the health benefits are tremendous. Lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels, reduced risk of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes and much more.

The diet is based on consuming wholesome fresh foods in their natural state and by cooking them in a healthy ways.

Red meats are eaten only on occasion; sugar, processed foods filled with additives, fast foods, and junk food, which are the cause of so many illnesses in today’s world are simply not eaten.

It should not be news that most health problems in the US can be attributed to a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

The Mediterranean diet solves both problems, if you let it. It provides the healthy nutritious foods your body needs for energy and well-being; plus, it incorporates exercise to solve the sedentary lifestyle issue.

Potential Difficulties

Let’s look at some of the potential difficulties.

1. The diet can be expensive.

When you eat primarily fish, fresh (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables, nuts, etc. you will find that they are more expensive than grabbing a cheeseburger from a fast food joint or buying junk food from the vending machine at work.

But . . . if you consider the health problems you may endure in the future and the cost of health care that goes with those problems, you may want to think twice about the actual cost. The healthy foods on the Mediterranean diet may not seem so expensive after all.

2. Possible food allergies.

It is possible that some people may have allergic reactions to some of the foods in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil may not agree with their digestive system, etc. It happens. If you have serious reactions to any of the foundational foods of the diet, you would probably want to choose another diet – just make sure it is a healthy one.

3. The toxicity of fish.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in fish and is one of the most toxic foods on the market today because of pollution in the world’s waterways

Educate yourself and find out which fish are richest in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lowest in mercury contamination, and sustainably produced. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) there are better (and worse) choices when buying fish.  Check out their website for details on how to buy fish – The EWG’s Seafood Guide.

You can also get your omega-3 fatty acids from sources such as flaxseed, walnuts and Brussel sprouts.

4. Cost and availability of fruits and vegetables.

It may not always be easy to obtain fresh seasonal produce and some of the more common choices in the Mediterranean Region may not be available in your area – or the cost will be prohibitive – especially for organic.

Easy to Adapt?

Will it be easy to adopt the Mediterranean Diet with a full commitment?  Maybe not.  It may take some serious adjustment and determination to stay with it.

As Americans we are used to eating whatever we want, whenever we want it. If we are feeling hungry or blue – grab that tub of ice-cream. When we are bored, frustrated or angry, we reach for comfort foods like a bucket of fried chicken with mashed potatoes and biscuits form KFC.

Food has become far more than sustenance for many people. It is frequently used as a form of ‘medication’ for emotional problems. It that plays into your eating patterns, staying with any diet will be challenging.

When you start the Mediterranean Diet it can take time to adapt to the practice of thinking about what you are eating and being willing to make healthy choices. Eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes with thick gravy is not encouraged. The tub of ice cream should be replaced with a bowl of sweet, healthy fruit that is preferably high in fiber.

Such dramatic changes in your approach to food and eating habits may not sit well with some people. It may be too different and troublesome. Maybe that will be the case initially. But, you know that anything worthwhile often has challenges that must be faced. Major accomplishments rarely come easily.

Adopt the Mediterranean Diet!  Give it your best shot (including your time and energy), keep a positive attitude no matter what, and you may be surprised at how fast you realize that this is diet you want to stay with the rest of your life.

Your body and health will reflect the benefits of this diet in time . . . give it a real chance!

 

Prevent Inflammation with the Mediterranean Diet

Danger of Inflammation

The Free Medical Dictionary describes inflammation as:

A localized protective response elicited by injury or destruction of tissues which serves to destroy, dilute, or wall off both the injurious agent and the injured tissue. The class signs of inflammation are heat, redness, swelling, pain, and loss of function.

Inflammation Tablet in Doctor's Office
Image by tashatuvango

Unfortunately, millions of people suffer from inflammation without realizing it. Even people in their early forties blame the constant aches and pains in their bodies and joints on getting older, which is absurd.

Causes of Inflammation

The reality is that many of those aches and pains are the result of their diet.  Most of the inflammation they are experiencing comes from the foods they put into the bodies without any concern for how it may be affecting their health.

The food manufacturers have changed the average diet so dramatically over the past 50 years that it is frightening.  They have gradually managed to convince us that they know what is best for us to eat and we have succumbed to their strategy.

We accept the extreme processing of foods for convenience, colour, flavour, and taste as perfectly acceptable without a moment’s consideration of whether we should be eating the foods, or not.

We rarely take the time to think about the foods we eat – foods that are filled with processed sugars and flour, preservatives, chemicals, artificial sweeteners, etc. – all of which are incredibly bad for the human body.

We have become human guinea pigs for the food industry. They continuously introduce new foods with no idea of the side effects. Nor, do they seem to care if they are any adverse effects as long as the foods sell and make a profit.

It is time to stop this horrible trend. There is a price to be paid and it will be in the general health of the population.  In fact, many are already paying.  There are more serious health problems today than ever before and inflammation is only the beginning of the problem.

Inflammation may sound relatively harmless, but can and often does lead to numerous serious and life-threatening diseases.  Inflammation is the common link between such debilitating conditions as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.

Body Ecology believes that one of the main causes of inflammation is low-grade bacterial, viral, and fungal infections in the bloodstream and organs like the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract.

They also list other causes of inflammation as:

  • Chronic low-grade food allergies or food sensitivities that may cause few symptoms.
  • An imbalance of bacteria and fungi in your gastrointestinal tract, also known as symbiosis. This causes your immune system to overreact to bacteria in your gut and can be without notable symptoms.
  • Stress! Constant psychological, emotional or physical stress raises the level of cortisol, creating inflammation.
  • Environmental toxicity from our air, water, food pollutants and toxic metals like mercury and lead all contribute to inflammation and have been linked to diseases as varied as endometriosis and cancer.
  • Diet and lifestyle: too much fat, sugar, and protein in your diet, constant dehydration, consumption of too many sodas or caffeine, inactivity, and lack of sleep can all increase inflammation in your body

When you suffer from any type of ongoing inflammation in your body, your immune system can become overburdened. The inflammatory triggers are cycled continuously through your blood where they affect nerves, organs, connective tissues, joints, and muscles.

As a result, we are quickly becoming a world in crisis. Diabetes is running rampant across all ages. Heart disease is on the rise, and we are nearing a pandemic of obesity in children, teens, and adults.

Mediterranean Diet Can Help

The Mediterranean Diet is a way of life. It is not a fad diet created by a doctor or nutritionist that will reach celebrity status like the Atkins or Paleo Diets. It is much lower key. In fact, it is more of a healthy eating plan than a diet. It is filled with wonderfully delicious foods that are actually good for you.

Because of all the extreme fad diets that have come and gone over the past decade, when most people think of healthy food, they picture tasteless dishes that you must force down, rather than enjoy.

That description does not fit the Mediterranean Diet in any way. The foods are not only tasty; they are also great for your health and do not create inflammation in your body.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The average daily diet today has been essentially stripped of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and includes an excess of Omega -6 Fatty Acids, which come from vegetables such as corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, as well as poultry and eggs. The fatty acid balance needs to be restored.

The more omega-3 fat you eat; the less omega-6 will be available to the tissues to produce inflammation. Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, while omega-3 is neutral. The Mediterranean diet includes generous amounts of fish and olive oil – both rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Mediterranean DietThe Mediterranean diet uses olive oil as its primary oil. There is no use of unhealthy hydrogenated oils which wreak havoc in our bodies. The primary meat is fish with the consumption of red meat and poultry at a minimum; which limits the intake of unhealthy saturated fat that also aggravates the body.

Eating fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds is essential in the Mediterranean diet. This is quite the opposite of the idea that a bottle of processed apple juice is an adequate serving of fruit each day. What people do not realize is that fruit juices are essentially sugar, water, artificial flavouring and preservatives that contribute to inflammation, which will drive you to the doctor rather than keep him away.

A basic premise of the diet is to eat natural foods – as close to nature as possible. Eat fresh, raw fruits (well-washed).  Also eat large quantities of fresh vegetables, raw or lightly steamed or quickly sautéed in olive oil and a little garlic.

The biggest benefit of the Mediterranean Diet is that those miserable aches and pains will begin to diminish and your overall well-being will improve.  And, you will start losing weight more easily.

Of course, you must eat all things in moderation and exercise daily  to ensure weight loss.  Even the healthiest diet can make you fat if you overeat. When you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Moderation is the key.

When you eat healthy as this diet allows you to do, the toxins are slowly and naturally eliminated from your body.  The pounds begin to fall away, the aches and pains will lessen, and you will become more fit – especially if you exercise regularly.

With a healthy diet, new toxins are not continually introduced through the foods you eat and you can enjoy the result of a relatively pain free life.

Make the choice today to switch your way of eating to the Mediterranean way and say goodbye to aches and pains and hello to a happier, healthier life.  It’s about time.

 

 

Food Allergies – Real or Imagined?

Whole Wheat Bread and Grains
Image by Oliver Hoffman

Food Allergies – Do You Really Have Them?

There is so much hype today about food allergies; it is easy to get caught up in the frenzy. One of the biggest topics in this area is allergies to gluten and wheat products. The food industry has also jumped on the band wagon and is rolling in the dollars with their “gluten-free” products, which adds to the frenzy. Plus, everywhere you look there are new gluten-free and grain-free diet books being published.

Are the allergies real or imagined, or is having food intolerance a fad?

Yes, some people have food allergies, but the majority do not. In fact, only about 8 percent of children have food allergies and 4 percent of adults.

When it comes to gluten intolerance, Celiac Disease affects less than 1% of the population. If you are among that 1%, you should, without a doubt, avoid gluten. In fact, eating it could be life threatening.  On the other hand, if you are among those who have eliminated, or are thinking about eliminating whole grains from your diet, you really need to reconsider. The decision to eliminate an entire food group without sound reason is fool hardy and dangerous to your health.

In case you have forgotten, whole grains are one of the major food groups for good reason. In addition to providing critical nutrients (protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, and several B vitamins), they are a primary source of fiber, which is important for digestion, helps avoid constipation, and lowers the incident of colorectal cancers in adults.

Why deprive yourself of those benefits, for no reason. Those with true problems will see immediate results giving up gluten, but those without problems usually don’t even lose weight despite the rumors to the contrary. Instead they are more likely to end up bloated, constipated, and craving a lot of other foods in an effort to replace the grains. Why do that when it is not necessary?

The main benefit of a gluten free diet for people who are NOT gluten-intolerant is that it requires giving up treats that are full of fat, sugar and salt, sugar, such as donuts, cookies, etc.

If your goal is to lose weight and get healthy – forget about eliminating whole grains from your diet, just give up the junk food. Choose a diet of whole, fresh food that is as close to nature as possible (including whole grains) – and does not contain added fats, salts and sugars. With that change, you will immediately increase your nutritional levels and start enjoying better health.

How to Eat Whole Grains

Every grain is different in that it contains its own special combination of critical nutrients. As a result, in order to get the greatest benefit from whole grains, you should eat a variety of grains rather than sticking to only one or two. Also choose unprocessed grains – as close to nature as possible. For example: steel cut or rolled oats are a better choice than instant oatmeal. Also, as a side note, avoid refined white sugar. If you must have sweetener with your cereal use natural sweeteners such as fresh real maple syrup, finely chopped dates, and fruit.

Be smart in your choices and portions. You do not have to eat a lot of whole grains to get the benefits. Remember they are carbohydrates and excess carbohydrates will pack on the pounds. You only need three to five servings a day to get the fiber and nutrients you need. If weight is an issue – go with three servings, if you are on the thin side, five servings would be a better choice.

Serving sizes vary depending on the type of grain.  For example: ½ cup cooked portion is usually a good serving for brown rice, whole grain pasta and oatmeal; 1 slice whole grain bread, and 1 small muffin (you do not need the giant muffins – more is not better in this case).

Closing Thoughts

  • Be careful! If you are not actually allergic, you could be hurting yourself by eliminating grains from your diet.
  • DO NOT make an uninformed decision to remove grains from your diet.
  • If you think you may be allergic – ask your doctor to test you.