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Mental Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

Have you ever considered whether the process of dieting can enhance mental health? Is dieting beneficial for our mental well-being? The answer to this question is yes, particularly in the case of the Mediterranean diet. Several studies proved that the Mediterranean diet helps to improve our mental health. Through this article, we can understand the benefits of the Mediterranean diet.  

What is the Mediterranean Diet? 

The Mediterranean Diet is a way of consuming plant-based foods and healthy fats. It involves fruits, vegetables, grains, and healthy fats like Cheese etc. This diet has an adequate balance of the fatty acids  omega-6 and omega-3. The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods of the countries, which include France, Spain, Greece, and Italy. These countries are bordering the Mediterranean Sea.  

Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet in Physical and Mental Health: 

The Mediterranean diet has many benefits; it improves mental health as well as physical health.  The physical benefits of the Mediterranean diet include lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and metabolic syndrome, maintaining the body weight, and maintaining the sugar level in the blood,  blood pressure, and cholesterol. Mental health can include reducing stress and depression, promoting good sleep, reducing anxiety, slowing the decline of brain function, and finally, promoting the overall well-being of an individual. 

Mental health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet  
1. Improve Cognitive Capabilities: 

A meta-analysis published in Advances in Nutrition in 2017 found that people who closely followed the Mediterranean Diet had better cognition. This study only focused on the oils, such as olive oil, avocado oil, and sesame oil. Which have similar properties and benefits, and they are good for a brain-supporting diet. Eating less meat and more fish is also connected with better and positive brain outcomes. The Mediterranean Diet helps to slow down cognitive decline and improves thinking, memory, learning, problem-solving, and so on.

Blueberries help to slow down the process of cognitive decline. The omega-3 fatty acids in the fish protect blood vessels in our brain, control the damage caused by oxidative stress, and reduce inflammation. Another study of  Puerto Ricans with diabetes adults found that the Mediterranean diet helped to improve the blood sugar management in our body, which promotes our memory after two years of diabetes.

Read More: 9 Foods that are Great for your Brain  

Helps to prevent Dementia: 

Numerous factors influence cognitive decline; this will be controlled by a healthy diet. The  Mediterranean diet helps to slow down the rate of cognitive decline. One study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found people who are more attached to the Mediterranean diet had a 72 per cent decreased risk of developing dementia rather than people who have less attachment to the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean Diet helps to protect people against Alzheimer’s disease. Eating fish meals each week is associated with a 10 per cent reduction in dementia and a 30 per cent reduction in Alzheimer’s disease. Olive oil, avocado oil, and peanut oil are the best sources of vitamin E (it is a potent antioxidant), which helps to slow down the progression of dementia. Berries, specifically blueberries, help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. 

Decrease the Depression Risk:  

Recent research studies found that the Mediterranean diet reduces depression. The inflammation  (the body’s response to an illness) is the main reason for the cause of the depression. Inflammation, the body’s response to illness, is a primary factor in the development of depression. The Mediterranean diet includes foods rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients sourced from plant-based oils, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Eating more types of veggies and berries provides plenty of gut-nourishing, inflammation-reducing fibres and gives macro, micro and phytonutrients to the body. Extra virgin olive oil, seeds, nuts, and seafood act as powerful anti-inflammatory compounds in the brain. It helps resist the damaging effects of exposure to free radicals, ageing, and exposure to toxins. 

Decrease your Stress Level:  

The Mediterranean Diet helps to decrease the stress level and promotes well-being. The walnuts are rich in vitamin B and potassium, and nutrients that help to reduce blood pressure and stress. Stress is associated with a low level of gut bacteria diversity (a marker of gut health); eating walnuts can improve gut health. Olive oil reduces the stress; it suppresses the stress hormone release. Fruits and vegetables help to reduce the stress level; those are strawberries, bell peppers, and leafy greens. Antioxidants and plant compounds help to control the oxidative stress. Omega 3 fatty acids are rich in salmon fish, which has been shown to help reduce the anxiety caused by stress. Eggs and smoothies with greens and veggies in the Mediterranean diet help to lower stress levels. 

Improves the Quality of Sleep: 

The Mediterranean diet has antioxidants and plenty of vitamins, which help to improve sleep by reducing body inflammation and supporting the healthy functioning of the nervous system.  Researchers found that the Mediterranean diet was associated with longer and better sleep. Omega 3 fatty acids and minerals like magnesium and potassium in the Mediterranean diet improve the quality of sleep. Vitamin B helps to regulate the circadian rhythm (internal clock); magnesium calms our nervous system and promotes muscle relaxation, which helps with fall asleep more easily.  Potassium helps with muscle relaxation and keeps the sleep patterns uninterrupted.

As individuals, we need to maintain our mental health, which is so important to us. The  Mediterranean Diet improves our mental and physical health. It promotes the overall psychological well-being of an individual; it helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression; it slows down cognitive decline; and it reduces the risk of physical diseases. We should follow the proper  Mediterranean diet to maintain our physical and mental health, which improves our overall well-being. 

References +
  • BSc, K. G. (2023, November 10). Mediterranean Diet 101: A Meal Plan and Beginner’s guide. Healthline. plan#how-to-follow-it 
  • Migala, J. (2023, July 18). 3 Amazing things that happen to your brain when you follow the Mediterranean diet. EatingWell. benefits-Mediterranean-diet/ 
  • Rd, J. B. M., & Migala, J. (2023, July 18). The 6 best Mediterranean diet foods that can help lower your stress levels. EatingWell.  
  • • McCoy, A., McCoy, A., & McCoy, A. (2024, April 12). Why the Trendy Mediterranean  Diet Might Be Extra Helpful With Sleep. Sleepopolis.  
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  • Styx, L. (2022, June 2). Mediterranean diet may help beat depression in young men.  Verywell Mind. depression-in-young-men-5272383
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