Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 17, 2017
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The latest studies on Euro-eating

We always hear how the Mediterranean diet prevents heart disease. Now scientists are looking at other diseases and this diet. One study, released in February 2011, showed that people on the Mediterranean diet had a 40 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.1 In March 2011, a meta-analysis of 50 studies confirmed that the diet would reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.2

Another disorder prevalent in North America is depression. Health Canada suggests that about eight percent of Canadian adults will suffer from a major depression in their lifetime. A study published in 2009 noted that the incidence of depression was reduced when study participants followed a Mediterranean-type diet.3

A follow-up published in January 2011 was able to single out a component of the diet that was linked to the incidence of depression: trans fat.4 In this study, Spanish volunteers consumed diets containing various amounts of trans fats. The study concluded that more trans fat correlated to a higher incidence of depression versus a lower incidence when the participants consumed more heart-healthy fats. In North America, up to 2.5 percent of calories in the diet comes from trans fat; in the Spanish diet, it’s about 0.4 percent.

The diet of Northern European countries, on the other hand, is usually associated with being high in fat. A group of researchers in Denmark looked at whether some Nordic foods could have any health benefits.5 The foods indexed as healthy were fish, cabbage, rye bread, oatmeal, apples, pears and root vegetables. The study found that the men and women who consumed more of these foods had lower mortality rates.

Over to France, another “new” weight-loss program is all the rage and gaining momentum in North America. The Dukan Diet,6 which according to celebrity sites is followed by Kate Middleton and Jennifer Lopez, is a high-protein diet with a few twists. It starts with a rapid weight-loss phase and is followed by three phases to maintain the weight loss.

In phase one, the food choices are entirely from lean protein; the diet gradually includes vegetables, low-sugar fruit, cheese, whole-grain bread and even the occasional “cheat meals.” The diet is very restrictive and patients must progress to the different phases to ensure they do not develop deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances. Research suggests that high-protein diets aren’t more successful at long-term weight maintenance and a PubMed search provided no references to studies for the Dukan.

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