Meal Plans for Weight Loss
Meal planning offers structure and organization to your eating habits. It is especially helpful for newcomers to the paleo diet, bodybuilders in a cutting phase and those who need to lose weight.
Eating paleo means limiting processed foods and consuming mostly whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, grass fed meats and seafood. It also means consuming healthy fats, like those from avocado or olive oil.
Mediterranean diet is one of the now-famous “Blue Zone” lifestyles seen in places like Sardinia, Italy, and on the Greek island of Ikaria, whose residents tend to live longer, healthier lives compared to the rest of the world.
“Research has shown the Mediterranean diet can help lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, supports healthy blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, and can support a healthy weight,” Dr. Lisa Young, adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU, told The Post.
“It includes lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids and a moderate amount of animal protein including fish and dairy,” Young added.
To test the diet’s impact on dementia, researchers from Newcastle University and Queen’s University Belfast in the UK combed through data from over 60,000 participants from the UK Biobank, a massive medical database.
The experts then ranked the participants into three groups, based on their low, medium or high adherence to a Mediterranean diet.
The study, published in BMC Medicine, revealed that people who had a high adherence to the popular diet had a 23% lower risk of developing dementia over a nine-year period than those with a low level of adherence.
“Most people are unaware that keeping a healthy diet and lifestyle can protect memory and thinking abilities during aging,” Dr. Claire McEvoy of Queen’s University said in a news release.
“This important study shows that eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish and olive oil and less processed food, sugary food and red meat, could help to reduce the risk of future dementia,” McEvoy added.
How to start on the Mediterranean diet
One reason the Mediterranean is so popular is that it includes many foods that people already love to eat: fresh fruits, nuts, olive oil and seafood.
Experts advise adding three servings of fish each week to your meals. Other proteins can come from skinless poultry like turkey or chicken, and from beans, lentils and other legumes.
Nuts like walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts are common in the Mediterranean diet, but should be eaten in moderation, as the fats in nuts can add up fast.
Olive oil is a big part of the diet, and can be drizzled on salads, cooked vegetables or whole-grain pastas and breads.
In addition to whole grains from oats, quinoa, barley and brown rice, starchy vegetables like red potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas and squash are favored over processed grains like white bread.
And the Mediterranean diet steers people away from sugary foods, fried food, cheese, refined flour used in white bread and pasta, white rice, red meats and processed meats like salami or other lunch meats.
Beyond that, the Mediterranean diet also encourages a more social, less rushed approach to meals. “This type of diet is more of a lifestyle that focuses on overall healthy eating habits,” said Young.
Additionally, Young noted, the diet is balanced and varied, and is fairly easy to follow as it includes a wide variety of food options.
What is dementia?
Dementia is a general term that describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In people with dementia, symptoms interfere with their daily lives. Several different diseases can cause dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
Columbia University researchers have found that almost 10% of US adults ages 65 and older have dementia, while another 22% have mild cognitive impairment.
“Dementia impacts the lives of millions of individuals throughout the world, and there are currently limited options for treating this condition,” said Dr. Oliver Shannon, lead author of the study and a nutrition professor from Newcastle University.
“Finding ways to reduce our risk of developing dementia is, therefore, a major priority for researchers and clinicians. Our study suggests that eating a more Mediterranean-like diet could be one strategy to help individuals lower their risk of dementia.”