If you’ve been to my beloved Mediterranean, in countries like Italy and Greece, you know that the people there have traditionally eaten a diet consisting mainly of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, fish, seafood, and olive oil. These same foods are also recommended by experts not only for their highly nutritional benefits but also because they lower inflammation, which is important for women’s health supporting ovulation and increasing fertility and also, as a way to strengthen our immune system overall for the upcoming winter season. Over the years, researchers began to discover that people who followed this style of eating had lower rates of disease and lived longer than people in the United States who ate a Western-style diet.
The Mediterranean diet is ranked high among doctors and dietitians, and for good reason. Studies show it protects against diseases linked to inflammation, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. And because it includes a variety of foods, the Mediterranean diet is relatively easy to follow and stick with. Rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats, the Mediterranean diet is both delicious and nutritious.
Why should we care about inflammation? Well, eating anti-inflammatory foods isn’t just for those who struggle with inflammation problems – it is of benefit to all of us. Digesting anti-inflammatory foods at least once in a while can be really beneficial to our body’s health and digestion: it is cleansing, improves skin and soothes any skin issues, protects our brain function, promotes our heart health, maintains healthy weight and is great for people who want to lose weight, and also, strengthens our immune system overall.
I come from the perspective and belief that we should always listen to our body, and that any food, no matter how seemingly healthy, can become unhealthy if it is of unbalanced quantities or poor quality. Water is healthy, but not if we drink 6 liters of it daily. And dark chocolate has great health benefits! It is important to enjoy what we eat, because this is how it’d be ingested into our body. It also helps to eat slowly, and with more pleasure and appreciation for all we are tasting. And remember – we are all different, and we all have unique needs, so always, always, listen to your body. What may be good for one person, may not be for another.
For women especially, anti-inflammatory dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet can be a powerful tool to support more regular ovulation and enhanced fertility. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and seafood, and has been proven in research to reduce inflammatory markers, improves ovulation rates and enhances fertility treatment outcomes. This dietary pattern can also have benefits for enhancing mood and improving our metabolic health.
A Mediterranean eating pattern is not just eating foods from the Mediterranean region, and there are no concrete rules, so it can be adapted to suit your own individual food and taste preference. In general, it is based on the traditional foods of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Spain, Greece, and Italy.
The Mediterranean diet encourages people to consume more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and heart-healthy fats; consume less processed foods, added sugars and refined grains; and limit alcohol consumption. Now, if you’ve been to the Mediterranean you know we like some wine, and you know we love our Feta cheese – but again, it is about balance and quality. And if you’ve been in Italy, you know how we can eat pizza and pasta every day, and still be quite thin – and the reason for that is 1. we walk a lot, and 2. the ingredients are from a farm or our grandmother’s garden. So cheese is not just cheese, and bread is not just bread, they are healthy, organic and you it tastes differently. It is really important where our food comes from and how it is made.
The Mediterranean Diet:
As we mentioned, there is no set plan for following the Mediterranean diet, but below are some foods to focus on, and which ones to limit. Please always first and foremost listen to your own body, we are all different and have different needs. For some people vegan diets can be amazing, and for others they can trigger a lot of issues. For some people cherries can be amazing, and for others not that great. Please be mindful that you should not ever drastically change your eating patterns, and that you should introduce changes slowly; and also, consult with your doctor and nutritionist before making big changes.
It is always best to also have a food diary, and see how different foods make you feel, so that you can see which ones are best for your body. This will allow your to understand your own unique needs deeper, and tune into the language of your body better.
vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil
Low to moderate consumption:
eggs, poultry, cheese, yogurt, red wine
Limit or avoid completely:
red meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, processed meat, refined grains, other highly processed foods, beer and liquor
And remember: make with love, cook with love, eat with love. The way we make our food, touch it and prepare it and care for it, and the way we taste it and appreciate it, are just as important for our digestion as what we are actually eating.
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