We do not have to go crazy to find that regimen that will keep us perfect, both in health and in shape. We know it well enough, another thing is that we are not very faithful: it is the Mediterranean pattern
The diseases that most affect our well-being, and also those that kill the most, are, in most cases, acquired and a consequence of our lifestyle . Cardiovascular problems, cancer, obesity and diabetes , among others, are clear examples of how a sedentary lifestyle, an inadequate diet (high in fat, salt and low in plant foods) and also certain environmental factors are great threats to our health .
They all have a common link: chronic inflammation , which, although low-grade, persists over time and deteriorates organs and tissues. Thus, this process, in addition to the referred diseases, also impacts our second brain : the intestinal microbiota.
Emeran Mayer , a gastroenterologist and neuroscientist at the David Geffen School of Medicine of the University of California, has addressed this issue in an article on the blog of ‘ The mind gut connection’ (‘Connection between intestine and mind’, his famous book ).
In the article, entitled ‘The science behind anti-inflammatory diets’, the professor explains: “The main mechanism linking unhealthy diet to various chronic diseases is found in our gut , specifically the interaction of billions of microbes with the immune system. associated with it, which make up approximately 70% of all immune cells in the body ”, a relationship that we have already discussed in Alimente .
Today the belief prevails that the changes caused by diet in the microbiota favor an inappropriate activation of the intestinal immune system, and from there it spreads to the rest of the body in what is called ‘ metabolic endotoxemia ‘, that is, “a systemic immune activation not related to an infection ”, says Mayer.
Many researchers link the alteration of the microbiota (dysbiosis) and metabolic endotoxemia with diet. Along these lines, a team of Brazilian scientists has found that a diet rich in fat reduces the variety of species in the microbiota , which favors chronic inflammation and the development of chronic diseases, as described in the article published in the journal ‘Hospital Nutrition ‘.
More hype than science
This relationship has been used by dietitians, nutritionists and popularizers to promote special diets and supplements with anti-inflammatory properties that supposedly prevent metabolic endotoxemia. However, “many of the so-called anti-inflammatory diets are more of a hype than real science ,” cautions Professor Meyer.
Anti-inflammatory diets share guidelines: variety of fruits and vegetables, little amount of animal protein and no added sugar
To control a bacterial infection, treatment with a specific antibiotic (depending on the causative germ) is needed ; But to counteract chronic inflammation, an anti-inflammatory diet is enough with which, apparently, any disease can be prevented. And although there are different dietary proposals that fit this function, the gastroenterologist points out that all of them share some key elements: “They are largely plant-based, made up of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, with small amounts of animal protein. (mainly chicken and fish), without added sugar and little processed ”.
And another aspect that should not be lost sight of is that most of the scientific evidence supporting the health benefit of anti-inflammatory diets comes from epidemiological case-control studies that, in the expert’s opinion, “do not prove causality. of the specific diet ”.
In this statement there are exceptions, among which the Mediterranean diet stands out , based mainly on fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, fish and olive oil .
The blog article of ‘ The mind gut connection’ refers that, as early as the 1960s , scientific studies began to discover that people who followed this eating style had lower rates of disease and lived longer than people who consumed a western-style diet (like the one followed in the United States).
“Among anti-inflammatory diets, the traditional Mediterranean ranks highly among physicians and dietitians, and for good reason. Studies show that it protects against most chronic non-infectious conditions related to systemic immune activation , including cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression and cognitive impairment ”, argues the neuroscientist, who also highlights its ” delicious taste ” and the great variety of fruits, vegetables and seafood that it includes. “The Mediterranean diet is popular and relatively easy to follow for most people in the long term.”
All the accumulated scientific evidence leads the University of California professor to propose that Americans adhere to the Mediterranean diet , which is considered therapeutic : “It should be the basic diet for life for most people, preventing the body enters an inflammatory state; obviously it works best when combined with regular physical exercise and a contemplative mindset . “