Mediterranean Way of Eating May Prevent Kidney Disease

Individually, most of the elements of the Mediterranean diet are heart-healthy.  The diet as a whole has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of cardiovascular mortality, the incidence of cancer mortality and may reduce the incidence of neurologic diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s. For this reason, the Mediterranean diet is championed by most, if not all major scientific institutions, not only as a diet, but a lifestyle change to prevent major life-shortening chronic diseases. But now new findings suggest it may benefit long-term kidney health. Researchers found that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, healthy fats like olive oil which lowered patients' risk of chronic kidney disease. 

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The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been cited over and over again.  Hailing from the traditional dietary patterns of residents along the Mediterranean coast, the main staples of the diet include nuts, whole grains, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, unrefined cereals, lots of legumes, just as much fish, some cheese and yogurt and occasional consumption of wine. The cornerstone of this diet is its limit in the consumption of red meat to only a few times a month.

This stems from the growing body of evidence that shows poor eating and lifestyle can affect the long-term risk of chronic kidney disease. This connects with the cardiovascular system which the kidneys are a part of. The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to improve the cardiovascular system which could conclude why growing evidence is being uncovered on eating a healthy and balanced diet can improve kidney health. 

This diet protects against many different types of ailments, not just the ones affecting women. More specifically it has been found to have some of the following health benefits:

• Protects against type 2 diabetes: Rich in fiber, which helps keep blood sugar stable.

• Prevents heart disease and strokes: Discourages eating processed foods, refined grains, and a frequent amount of red meat, all of which have been linked to heart disease and stroke.

• Keeps up muscle mass and strength in elderly:  Diet is very high in nutrients which support healthy bones and muscles.  It has been shown to reduce the risk of muscle weakness and bone frailty by about 70%.

• Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s: Because the diet improves both blood sugar levels, cholesterol and overall vascular health, it has been linked to a reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

• Reduces risk of Parkinson’s disease: High in antioxidants, which protects cells against oxidative stress.  Oxidative stress damages cells, and can contribute to health issues.   Some studies have shown that an antioxidant rich diet cuts the risk of Parkinson’s disease in almost half.

• Helps you live longer:  Because this diet protects against both heart disease and cancer, it reduces the risk of death by about 20% no matter what your age. 

Now there is one more reason to follow this diet plan, and that’s environmental impact.  A recent study established that the menu traditionally eaten in Spain has less of a carbon footprint than that of English speaking countries like the United States or the United Kingdom.  A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide (or equivalent pollutant gas) contributing to global warming. This Spanish study analyzed the carbon footprint of typical menus in Spain, following a Mediterranean diet, and compared them to daily fare consumed in the UK and the US.  What researchers found was that the Spanish Mediterranean diet had a smaller carbon footprint than English speaking countries due to lower beef consumption.  Beef, it has been found, has a relatively larger carbon footprint than fruits and vegetables which make up much of the Mediterranean diet. So not only is eating like a Mediterranean native more healthy, but also more environmentally friendly.