There’s something about the Mediterranean that just screams tranquillity, wellness, and fertility. Maybe it’s the pristine coastlines or all that lush greenery. Or perhaps it’s the world-renowned Mediterranean diet, the quintessential health promoting and protecting diet that’s big on flavour and nutrients.
Boasting ample amounts of fibre, phytonutrients, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and flavour, the Mediterranean diet is one of the best eating patterns to follow for optimal fertility, health, and beauty.
Tonia Buxton, UK author and TV host, is not shy about singing the praises of her healthy Greek diet and lifestyle. She believes it’s the reason she has stayed fertile well into her 40s. Science seems to support her praise for the Mediterranean way of eating and living.
In a 2011 study researchers found a preconception Mediterranean diet had a positive effect on fertility. Women who most closely followed a Mediterranean diet had a lower chance of experiencing difficulty getting pregnant when compared to women who had a lower adherence to the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet also seems to positively affect IVF success. In 2010 researchers interviewed 161 couples receiving IVF treatment. The couples who followed a Mediterranean diet were more likely to conceive.
In 2014 researchers published an article that reviewed the results of 37 Mediterranean diet and health studies. Overall, the studies found those who closely followed a Mediterranean diet, had a lower risk of obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease, or cardio diabesity, a word coined to describe the connection between all four.
With the ability to stave off obesity, diabetes, and heart disease while improving fertility, the Mediterranean diet is worthy of much applause. Add in the beauty-enhancing benefits and frankly, it deserves a standing ovation.
What we choose to eat has the potential to greatly affect the health and appearance of our skin. The Mediterranean diet is thought to beautify and protect our skin. One study has found a connection between acne and the Mediterranean diet. In the study patients whose diets were full of the seafood and plant-based linchpins of the Mediterranean diet, while being low in red meat and dairy, were less likely to develop acne.
Besides warding off acne, it might also provide sun protection; and we all know how important sun protection is for preventing premature ageing, wrinkling, and hyperpigmentation. It’s believed the omega 3s, monounsaturated fatty acids, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals from the large amounts of fish, fruit, olive oil, whole grains, and vegetables in the diet, are partially behind the relatively low number of melanoma cases in Mediterranean countries.
Mediterranean Eating Pattern
After reading these benefits you’re probably ready to book the first flight you can find to one of the many countries along the Mediterranean sea so you can nosh with the natives on some authentic meals. The good news is, you don’t have to use all your frequent flyer miles and vacation time to reap the benefits of this healthy diet. Just head to your nearest grocery store (or cupboard) and follow the guide below.
- Whole Grains
- Beans, peas, lentils
- Herbs and Spices
- Olives/ Olive Oil
These foods make up the base of the Mediterranean diet. Make sure to include all or some of them at every snack and meal, every day.
- Fish and Seafood
Unlike many diets which centre around animal protein, the Mediterranean diet includes these foods regularly, but not necessarily daily. The foods below are eaten 2-5 times per week.
- Red Meat
Beef, pork, and lamb are served and eaten at most once a week and usually less often than that. Rather than being the star of the meal, red meat is usually added in small amounts to vegetable, bean, grain, and lentil dishes.
- Processed Foods and snacks
- Sweets/ desserts
Processed foods are limited, making up only a tiny percentage of the diet. Small portions of desserts, which are a far cry from highly processed sweets, may be eaten more frequently.
Desserts in the Mediterranean are typically made of fresh fruit and nuts. Honey is the sweetener of choice.
Moderate amounts of alcohol are regularly enjoyed, usually in the form of wine. This is optional and pretty controversial.
If you don’t currently drink or shouldn’t drink, it’s not recommended you start. For men, the limit is no more than 2 drinks, for women no more than 1 drink per day. Anything more than that and the risks begins to outweigh the benefits.
Additional Lifestyle Factors
Another important part of a Mediterranean meal, which is likely just as important as what is eaten, is enjoying it with family and friends. Eating is a time to unwind and catch up with other people. Good company and conversation go hand in hand with good food.
Physical activity, which we all know works in conjunction with healthy eating, is woven into daily living. Bike rides, walking, swimming, dancing, and playing with younger members of the family are fun ways to stay fit without heading to the gym.