This column was written by Giovanni Campanile, MD, Integrative Medicine and Nutrition, and Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Morristown Medical Center/ Atlantic Health System. He also has an office in Caldwell.
We do not need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to healthful benefits of a wholesome diet.
We know from many studies that people live long and well on diets that have been evolving with us for thousands of years — namely the Mediterranean diet. This simple diet is not only delicious, but naturally anti-inflammatory, and we now know that inflammation is at the basis of numerous painful and serious degenerative diseases like heart disease and cancer.
Therefore, my recommendation to my patients is not to be influenced by trendy fad diets which come and go and do not help your wellness, but to simply look at the gift of knowledge that our ancestors have left us, and to eat a natural whole food diet rich in vegetable, legumes, fruits and phytonutrients, occasional high quality meat or fish, nuts and pure water.
Previously, the Lyon Diet Heart Study showed us that switching from a standard American diet (SAD diet) to a Mediterranean style diet we can reduce the incidence of hear disease by an amazing 70 percent! In this very interesting study the researchers compared the Mediterranean diet to the low-fat American Heart Association diet.
This study was stopped early because of the of the dramatically better effects of the Mediterranean diet compared to the one recommended by the “authorities” — the American Heart Association. So, this study proved that fat is not the enemy. We now know that it is the quality of the food that matters.
More recently the PREDIMED study, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, showed that a Mediterranean-type diet rich in plants, olive oil and nuts can reduce the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke also by 40 percent! This was a randomized trial in over 7,400 participants.
This is amazing because there are no drugs that are this effective. This truly underscores what the father of medicine, Hippocrates, said more than 2,000 years ago: Let Food be your medicine.
There is significant confusion both in the public and in health care sectors on what constitutes a healthful diet. This is because that in the past we have been told by the “authorities” things like, “all fat is bad” or “carbohydrates are bad”, or “more protein is good” and “more protein is bad.”
With all these incorrect and conflicting recommendations it is no wonder that Americans are confused and this environment of confusion opens the door to a new diet fad every week.
The PREDIMED study adds scientific proof to what already is believed by many knowledgable nutritionists — namely, that a diet composed of whole food, mainly plants, with high quality grains, high quality fats and high quality protein is good for us.
The amazing thing is that the Mediterranean diet also happens to be one of the mast pleasurable ways to eat. The PREDIMED study shows that a diet rich in vegetables and grains, with good quantities of healthful fats is better for than a low-fat diet.
Our bodies thrive on the phytonutrients from grains and vegetable, the fat from things like olive oil, and the protein from high quality meats, fish, legumes and nuts. So the idea that we need to eliminate grains or fats to improve health is simply wrong, in fact, the best health comes from the consumption of the highest quality grains, fats and protein.
To contact Campanile, call (862) 260-3188.