Have you heard about the health benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet? Wondering what it is? Or if it could help with SIBO or other health conditions? Let’s find out! Plus enjoy a yummy recipe that captures some of its benefits!
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The Mediterranean Diet describes a way of eating that was popular in the Mediterranean region (Crete, Greece, Southern Italy) prior to the 1960s. Researchers became fascinated by individuals living in this region due to their low rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer. They also tended to live a long time.
The diet of individuals living in this region consisted of plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, olive oil, whole grains, legumes, and nuts as well as moderate seafood consumption. It was low in meat and dairy products and alcohol was consumed in moderation (primarily in the form of wine).
Here’s a great visual representation of the diet.
What conditions does research show it benefits?
The Mediterranean diet has become one of, if not, THE most studied diet in the world in regard to its health benefits.
Research supports a beneficial role for the Mediterranean diet in preventing the following conditions:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s)
- Fatty liver disease
Why is it beneficial?
Asking the question of why the Mediterranean diet is beneficial to health will bring you many answers. The truth is, there are so many variables that could be at play that it would be nearly impossible to determine exactly which one/ones is/are beneficial and to what degree.
But what we do have, are theories:
- Lots of vegetables & fruits– these are rich in micronutrients like polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals
- Antioxidant effects
- Olive oil– contains polyphenols, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), and omega-9 fatty acids
- Antioxidant effects
- Seafood– rich in EPA/DHA
- Regulate homeostatic factors
- Protective against cardiac arrhythmia, cancer, and hypertension
- Low sodium (compared to Standard American Diet)
- Protective against high blood pressure
- Low in processed foods
- More nutrient-dense diet
- Free from questionable additives
How does this apply to SIBO?
SIBO and IBS have been associated with chronic low-grade inflammation in the small intestine. This is likely due to the bacteria and the toxins they produce.
We have learned above that the Mediterranean Diet is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, it is logical that a Mediterranean-style diet could potentially counteract some of the inflammation associated with SIBO and IBS.
Now, I am not saying that eating legumes (beans) is going to reduce inflammation for individuals with IBS or SIBO.
But, applying the framework of the Mediterranean Diet to a low FODMAP diet (a diet that has been studied to help symptoms of people with IBS) could potentially be beneficial. So go ahead and enjoy some olive oil, nuts, and seafood (assuming you are not allergic, of course)!
- 9 oz package RPs gluten free egg fettuccine (or your favorite brand- Jovial Egg Tagliatelle is really delicious as well)
- 1 T garlic-infused olive oil
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 3 T kalamata olives
- 4 artichoke hearts (from can or jar), diced
- 3 large handfuls arugula
- Garnish: extra olive oil, pine nuts, freshly chopped basil
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain well.
- In a large skillet, heat garlic-infused olive oil over medium heat. Once hot (but not smoking), add tomatoes, salt, and pepper. saute 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in cooked pasta, olives, artichoke hearts, and arugula. Cook until just warm, then remove from heat.
- Transfer to serving dishes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pine nuts and fresh basil.
 Del chierico F, Vernocchi P, Dallapiccola B, Putignani L. Mediterranean diet and health: food effects on gut microbiota and disease control. Int J Mol Sci. 2014;15(7):11678-99.
 Trichopoulou A, Martínez-gonzález MA, Tong TY, et al. Definitions and potential health benefits of the Mediterranean diet: views from experts around the world. BMC Med. 2014;12:112.