The term diet derives from the Greek “δίαιτα” meaning “lifestyle”. Therefore, it is more than just a list of foods to eat and/or avoid for a particular period. We tend to think of a diet as a form of nutrition, sometimes restrictive or monotonous, to be followed for a specified period in order to achieve a particular amount of weight loss, quickly if possible.
The key aspect, in the form of constancy and regularity over time, however, we find already within the term itself, diet, therefore lifestyle.
In view of this, the nutritional style shown to be most effective in preventing and counteracting the most common diseases of the modern era, at least for Western populations, is the Mediterranean diet, and in 2010, it was included in the UNESCO list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage”.
As a lifestyle, the Mediterranean Diet represents a model comprising not just the choice and the frequency with which certain foods are consumed, but also moderation and more cultural aspects such as techniques used to prepare foods, conviviality, regular physical activity and, last but not least, proper sleep.
In fact, many studies have shown how this type of nutrition has positive effects in terms of longevity and mortality, as regards heart disease, obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and also as regards dementia and depression, not to mention tumours.
Frugality is a fundamental characteristic of the Mediterranean diet: no matter how closely we follow the above recommendations, if quantities are excessive, it results in the advancement of growing overweight or obese, and therefore risks nullifying the much spoken-of benefits.
Dr.ssa Maria Teresa Nardi
Head of the Clinical Nutrition Service of the Veneto Oncological Institute and B.Well project consultant