Island Senior: The Mediterranean Lifestyle For Longevity
Island Senior is a regular column on the San Juan Update written by Peggy Sue McRae…
You’ve probably heard of the Mediterranean diet. It has long been recognized that a typical, traditional lifestyle from the Mediterranean with a diet rich in olive oil, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes, fish, and shellfish can contribute to a long and healthy life.
In the online course, Understanding Different Diets: Mediterranean, Baltic Sea, and Okinawa through Future Learn, lead educator, professor Luca Cocolin of the University of Turin notes that, “Correct nutrition and a balanced diet are not just a healthy choice but rather a proper philosophy and lifestyle”. It is about food but it’s not only about food.
Check out the bottom tier on the Mediterranean food pyramid. The entire pyramid rests on regular activity, adequate rest, and my favorite, conviviality. Sharing food with others socially is part of a happy, healthy lifestyle. The silhouettes on the diagram even look like a table at the Mullis Center during a senior lunch.
Moving up the pyramid, the next tier features water and herbal infusions. Only on the third tier do we find solid food. Here is the heart of the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil, a variety of fruits and vegetables, and grains (preferably whole grains) make up the base of the diet. Then add to the veggies, nuts, seeds and spices.
Up the pyramid it is getting a little narrower by the time we reach dairy. Low fat is what is recommended here. Some grated Parmesan on your whole grain pasta is great but the cream or half & half that I do so love to put in my coffee is something we are told to use sparingly. As for proteins; fish, chicken, and eggs are recommended over red and processed meats. Besides saturated fats there is often hidden salt in processed meat.
At the tippy top of our pyramid you’ll see a piece of cake. There is nothing “forbidden” on the Mediterranean diet. It’s your birthday, or your daughter’s wedding, so go ahead and have a piece of cake but just so you know, those refined carbs and sugar are not doing your body any good. Wine is recommended in moderation and “respecting social beliefs”.
Sustainability and locally sourced seasonal foods are also considered plus factors in a holistic diet and lifestyle. If you are interested in taking the 4-week course, Understanding Different Diets: Mediterranean, Baltic Sea, and Okinawa you, you can find this and many other online courses on the Future Learn website.