Diet Versus Mediterranean Diet
by Bill Sardi: 26
Reasons Why You Should Forgo Prescription Drugs and 14 Reasons Why
You Should Take Natural Medicines
food diets produce many imbalances that promote chronic disease
and premature death. This is well documented in the medical literature.
At the risk of oversimplification, a list of these imbalances can
be summarized in a chart (below). It is worthwhile to evaluate these
major imbalances as a whole rather than individually and to compare
them against the Mediterranean diet.
The Western Diet
Depleting or Overloading Factors
diet unfavorably dominant in:
diet lacking in:
oil, flaxseed oil
saturated fat, white bread
grains, bran, rice bran IP6
green leafy veges,
apricots, potatoes, supplements
Vitamin A Stored in liver
of Vitamin D stored in liver
(rickets; weakened immunity)
(poor source due to sun phobia), supplements
thinners deplete vitamin K
of Vitamin K2
leafy veges (with oils), supplements
(beer), diuretics, digitalis, sugar
(steroids, aspirin) deplete vitamin C; refined sugar negates
immune stimulating properties of vitamin C
white blood cells; produces collagen, strengthen capillaries
(foods will not significantly raise vitamin C blood levels)
sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, aspartame
that won’t break down in the body
cooking oils with strong antioxidants
oil, rice bran oil, sesame seed oil
magnesium, zinc, vitamin B1
red wine, moderate intake, preferably unfiltered
of western processed food diets and health care
It can be said
that the western diet is characterized by overly salty processed
foods, refined sugars, white (bran-less) bread, hydrogenated (un-metabolizable)
fats (used to increase the shelf life of baked goods), omega-6 corn
and safflower cooking oil (though essential for human life) over
omega-3 fish and flaxseed oil, iron/copper-rich foods (iron-rich
meats, copper in tap water, vitamin pills) which oxidizes and hardens
fats in the brain and arteries leading to plaque buildup, excessive
alcohol (depletes essential nutrients, increases iron overload and
fatty liver), paltry amounts of vitamin C, low vitamin D levels
(largely induced by sun phobia) and reliance upon man-made drugs
to treat disease rather than prevent disease altogether.
With all of
the medications in the armament of western medicine, there is yet
no wellness pill, though a so-called polypill has been suggested
for healthy populations that offers a combination of yet more drugs.
In western medicine, disease is largely treated as a drug deficiency
and populations are over-medicated and seemingly well-nourished
while facing widespread undetected shortage of omega-3 oil, vitamins
C, D, B1, B12 and magnesium and potassium.
diet prevails over modern medicine
strongly suggests lifestyle has a stronger impact than any delivered
health care. Look at the Japanese who do not read diet books nor
go to the gym. They are far leaner and healthier eating a varied
diet that is not rich in iron or calcium (low red meat and dairy
consumption) and rich in omega-3 fish oil, fermented soy (miso,
tempeh) and iodine-rich sea vegetables. If Japanese males would
back away from over-consumption of alcohol and tobacco their life
expectancy there would likely soar even further.
to be the selected venue for many chronic disease studies because
of its high rate of cardiovascular disease. In fact it had the highest
mortality rate for coronary artery disease in the world. But today,
by backing away from tobacco, cutting back on alcohol and increasing
plant food intake, Finland
has been able to cut it cardiovascular disease mortality rate by
a jaw-dropping 80%. Modern medicines and treatment played only
a minor role in this health revolution.
It has recently
become apparent that control of seven measures of cardiovascular
health (body weight, blood pressure, tobacco use, physical activity,
diet, cholesterol and blood sugar) will
reduce risk for cancer by nearly 40%.
bragging that modern treatments for cancer have prolonged survival
rates, the sad fact is, while being diagnosed earlier, patients
are still succumbing to cancer on or about the same calendar day.
advances in survival are imaginary, created by earlier detection.
The cancer industry has been slow to come up with even one preventive
of refined cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup in the western
diet is of concern. There is now recognition that low carbohydrate
diets would suppress or at least delay the emergence of cancer.
Most malignant cells depend upon steady sugar availability for growth.
increase the growth of tumors.
prefer fructose over other forms of sugar for growth and the provision
of high fructose
corn syrup in so many foods and beverages is believed to promote
the growth of cancer.
Yet, it should
not be assumed that artificial sweeteners are healthier. Stevia,
xylitol and inositol would be desirable low- calorie sweeteners
over aspartame or saccharin.
declines but not because of medicines
A recent report
published in a British public health journal notes that circulating
cholesterol levels have declined in most developed countries in
recent years with accompanying declines in cardiovascular disease
cholesterol-lowering drugs have had little to do with this decline
even though 14% of western adult populations take statin drugs.
Even with aggressive
use of cholesterol-lowering drugs,
calcification of arteries progresses and goes undetected by
arterial dye testing (angiograms).
that circulating cholesterol
levels are largely a marker for arterial disease, not a direct
causative agent in arterial plaque that clogs arteries.
the so-called "bad" cholesterol is now recognized
as a marker
of arterial calcification. Calcium is the major component of
arterial plaque and calcifications, not soft waxy cholesterol. Calcium
is what causes arteries to stiffen like a statue with advancing
age. Any alleged value of statin cholesterol-lowering drugs appears
to be linked
to its mild ability to raise vitamin D levels, vitamin D being
a natural anti-calcifying agent.
epidemic: no cure in sight
has gleefully welcomed the diabesity epidemic in the US as an opportunity
for more treatment rather than prevention. Yet there is still no
proven drug to quell obesity.
report recently published in the journal Physiological
Behavior asserts that the western diet impairs cognition (thinking)
and is linked to dysfunction in a part of the brain called the hippocampus.
The western diet then "contributes to the development of
excessive food intake and obesity, in part, by interfering with
a type of hippocampal-dependent memory inhibition that is critical
in the ability of animals to refrain from responding to environmental
cues associated with food, and ultimately from consuming excess
food." The drug-for-every disease model does not properly
address this problem, dietary changes do.
(trans) fats persist in the western diet
producers persist in lacing baked goods and other foods with hydrogenated
fats solely for improving product shelf life, not for any nutritional
benefit. A 2% absolute increase in hydrogenated (trans) fats in
the diet is associated with a 23% increase in risk for cardiovascular
US Food and
Drug Administration labeling rules allow products containing less
than 0.5 grams (500 milligrams) of trans fat per serving to claim
0 grams trans fat. Many products with almost 0.5 grams trans fat,
if consumed over the course of a day, may approximate or exceed
the 2 gram maximum as recommended by American Heart Association,
claiming to be trans-fat free. Total elimination of trans fats
is not possible because they are naturally occurring in foods.
dietary antidote to western disease patterns has been a low-fat
diet which appears to be counterproductive. The Mediterranean
diet exhibits advantages over a low-fat diet. Other
studies confirm this.
with a Mediterranean diet pattern (fruit, vegetables, whole grains,
fish, wine and olive oil) is associated with decreased
risk for a heart attack. Modest
consumption of red wine negates many of the adverse factors
associated with a western diet. But the dark aged red wine consumed
in Europe should not be confused with the cheap wine often sold
in the 1930s and 1970s as well as recently point to the essentiality
of omega-3 oils in the human diet. The typical western processed
food diet results in an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 10-to-20 to
1 versus 1-to-1 in ancestral diets. The medical literature provides
compelling evidence for the lack of omega-3 oils correlating with
in the onset of metabolic disease (obesity, diabetes). Yet, as the
authors of a recent report lament, these
facts have not been translated into dietary practice in children’s
school lunch programs or even hospital diets. Is modern medicine
so loathe to the idea of prevention that it has to encourage dietary
disease even while hospitalized?
A recent study
was conducted in the animal lab at a university in The Netherlands.
Mice were placed on a diet rich in cholesterol or rich in omega-3
DHA starting at 6-months of age for a period a 12 months (lab mice
live about 2-3 years). Mice fed a typical western cholesterol-rich
diet developed brain plaque in the hippocampus part of the brain.
In contrast, the mice fed fish
oil exhibited decreased amounts of amyloid brain plaque and improved
blood flow to the brain. (But these experiments are a bit misleading
because very high amounts of cholesterol are given to these laboratory
animals beyond what could be consumed by humans and should not be
translated to reduce dietary cholesterol in human populations which
comprises only a small fraction (20%) of circulating cholesterol.)
H. Okuyama of Nagoya City University says there is an urgent
need for western medicine to change the direction of cholesterol-related
medication, away from statin drugs and toward use of omega-3
these make one wonder where do companies like Kraft Foods that supply
much of the food for school lunch programs stand in regard to provision
of omega-3 oils and public health?
of sodium over potassium
of processed foods compete for taste, frozen foods, canned soups,
almost all prepared foods are laced with salt at the expense of
its balancing agent potassium. The American diet provides ~4000-6000
mg of sodium per day without using the salt shaker. It would be
difficult for an American who eats prepared foods to reduce sodium
intake. Food producers are reluctant to reduce sodium. So the best
strategy is to increase potassium intake (potatoes, bananas, apricots
are rich in potassium). Unfortunately, these are high carbohydrate
In a human
experiment, middle-aged adults placed on high sodium diets rapidly
developed blood factors (fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor) that
encourage blood clotting associated with adverse events such as
strokes and heart attacks. When these same subjects were given potassium
supplements their blood
measures normalized. In processed food western diets it appears
potassium supplements should be employed on a widespread basis to
counter the effects of sodium-rich processed foods. This is yet
another example of how Americans are being fed like lab rats by
food producers to breed disease.
As an example
of how western dietary factors combine to produce overweight human
beings, researchers in France recently noted the combined
high intake of fructose sugar and shortage of magnesium in the
diet induces health problems in laboratory animals. Just a few days
of experimental magnesium deficiency produces inflammation and a
free radical storm that largely occurs in central abdominal fat
cells (adipose tissue) that results in obesity and insulin problems
(insulin is the pancreatic hormone that metabolizes sugars).
to a study conducted by US Department of Agriculture researchers,
just a modest
shortage of magnesium leads to retention of excess calcium in post-menopausal
is certainly an overlooked medicine. It regulates the flow of
sodium, calcium and potassium through cell membranes, protects against
overload of calcium, inhibits sodium overload into cells, controls
the acid/alkaline balance in cells and controls the levels of triglycerides
and helps to control the heart. Yet I have never heard of a conventional
cardiologist prescribing magnesium across the board to his patients
with heart disease.
milligrams of daily magnesium is required to produce metabolic
balance. While green leafy vegetables and nuts are a dietary source
of magnesium, it would be difficult in western countries to meet
magnesium needs without dietary supplements (200-400 mg supplemental
magnesium needed). Note: magnesium
oxide, the most economical form available on store shelves, is poorly
absorbed (only 4%) and other forms should be obtained (glycinate,
gluconate, malate, citrate, others).
of western medicine is to detect high circulating cholesterol numbers
in blood tests and assume that a liver-toxic cholesterol-lowering
statin drug deficiency is the problem.
is just emotional
or physical stress that signals release of fats into the blood stream.
cholesterol is just the result of a copper-over-zinc imbalance.
or dietary-related factors are not a reason to place adults on cholesterol-lowering
medications. But modern medicine often treats numbers rather than
just fiber (and certainly not white bread)
It has been
said that white bread is what started the whole diabesity epidemic.
Whole grain diets have been proposed as a remedy but breads are
often misleading as to bran content, the key ingredient in whole
adults can reduce their circulating cholesterol levels by 14% just
by adding bran to their diet, approaching what is accomplished
with statin drugs. Rice
bran is a particularly desirable source of bran because of its
strong antioxidants (ferulic acid, oryzanol, IP6 phytate and both
forms of vitamin E – tocopherols and tocotrienols). IP6 rice bran
extract can also be purchased at health food stores and is beneficial
for cleansing the liver, dissolving calcium or cholesterol stones
and calcifications and purging the brain of toxic metals.
Is it exercise
or vitamin D that promotes health?
that many of the health
promoting aspects of physical exercise are actually attributed to
exposure to greater amounts of sunlight and elevated vitamin D levels.
The mid-latitude Mediterranean area is warm and sunny and vitamin
D levels tend to be higher among geographic inhabitants in that
region of the world. While centenarians are known to be physically
active, they obviously do not frequent the gymnasium.
the Mediterranean diet
The role of
iron accumulation in aging and age-related disease explains the
reason why men have higher rates of disease in middle age than younger
females who control iron largely via monthly menstruation. Women
also live on average about 8 years longer than men.
males have double the iron load of equally-aged females and twice
the risk for diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Women who undergo
early hysterectomy or enter menopause will develop the same risk
for age-related disease as males.
a Mediterranean diet by males on the island of Crete has been shown
to cut iron load in males in half. Much of the ability of the Mediterranean
diet to promote health and longevity is now attributed
to its ability to reduce age-associated iron overload via iron-binding
properties in red wine and olive oil. This is accomplished by the
polyphenol content of olives and red wine grapes. Unfiltered wine
(so-called Jesus wine) and olive oil would provide even more of
these beneficial iron-controlling molecules.
consume polyphenols in red wine and olive oil
(resveratrol, quercetin, catechin in wine; tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol
in olives) in red wine and olive oil help produce
a transient gas (nitric oxide) that promotes better circulation
and reduces risk for heart attacks.
Yet many Americans
will miss the benefits of a Mediterranean diet by purchasing clear
rather than dark polyphenol-rich olive oil, non-aged red wine that
is weak in polyphenols, and farm-raised fish that do not feed on
cold-water phytoplankton which produces omega-3 oil.
It is clear
the food processors and modern medicine are more interested in profits
than public health. It is us vs. the food makers. The population
is being bred like lab rats to overeat and then face overtreatment.
In the era before statin drugs, low-fat diets and exercise regimens,
Americans were lean and did not overeat. Fats in the diet produced
satisfaction (satiety) and raised mood. Obese individuals are often
depressed and prescribed antidepressants.
It was modern
medicine that first offered the ill advice to avoid eggs which are
rich in cholesterol. But subsequent studies show the majority of
cholesterol is naturally produced in the liver (80%) and the diet
only plays a minor role in circulating levels of cholesterol (20%).
The vast majority
of adults who consume eggs do not experience a rise in cholesterol.
Efforts to reduce consumption of cholesterol-rich foods should
be reconsidered. But dietary cholesterol guidelines remain unchanged.
It was Drs.
Jeremiah Stamler and Ancel Keys who painted a false picture of heart
disease emanating from fat and cholesterol beginning in the 1950s.
many experience heart attacks with low cholesterol as high cholesterol.
Keys, who made the front cover of Time magazine, cherry-picked
data from just six of twenty-two available studies to make his
biased claim that fats and cholesterol in the diet were causal for
heart attacks and mortality. Dr. Stamler advocated margarine over
butter. His popular book at the time was sponsored by makers of
margarine. Cholesterol-lowering drugs followed which did not significantly
reduce cholesterol or coronary artery disease mortality. But the
Food & Drug Administration allowed statin drugs to continue
to be prescribed. Later stronger statins were developed but have
also failed to reduce death rates for cardiovascular disease.
medicine rig the American diet so doctors would have more disease
to treat and drug companies would have more medicines to sell? It
appears so. Dr. Keys is still revered by modern medicine today and
his work recalled by annual lectures in his memory.
him mail] is a frequent writer on health and political
topics. His health writings can be found at www.naturalhealthlibrarian.com.
latest book is Downsizing
© 2011 Bill Sardi Word of Knowledge Agency, San Dimas, California.
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