Unless you’ve been living under rock, you’ve no doubt heard of the Mediterranean diet and its many benefits. Now, a study out of England is illustrating the benefits of that diet extend to a lifestyle modeled on how Mediterranean’s live may reduce the incidence of serious disease and increase potential lifespan.
The study examined the lifestyles and eating habits of more than 110,000 individuals across England, and found that following a Mediterranean lifestyle reduced the risk of cancer-caused death by 28 percent, and death by all causes by 29 percent.
The Characteristics of a Mediterranean Lifestyle
This way of living is centered around the Mediterranean diet, but includes two other main components that define the lifestyle.
- Mediterranean diet. Long associated with a number of benefits ranging from lower incidence of heart disease and cancer, to longer lifespans, the Mediterranean diet focuses on fresh foods, a high percentage of vegetables and fruits, lean proteins, and healthy unsaturated fats high in omega-3 fatty acids—in place of the saturated fats so prevalent in the average American diet. This diet is naturally low in carbs, refined sugars, and processed ingredients.
- Physical activity. A Mediterranean lifestyle is marked by fitness achieved through everyday activity—most commonly, walking over uneven terrain or bicycling. On the flip side, the lifestyle is also defined by a notable lack of sedentary time. This means limiting TV watching, and breaking desk-bound work sessions with bursts of physical activity. (Remember: Sitting is the new smoking!) Keep in mind that “staying active” can include housework, standing on your feet preparing a meal from scratch, or having fun playing bocci ball, golfing, or bowling.
- Socializing. This can seem like an ephemeral factor, but it is actually at the heart of how Mediterranean populations live. The emphasis is on group activities, from long walks with loved ones, to meals regularly shared with family and friends, to simply spending time in social interactions as pleasurable recreation. This leads to lower stress thanks to an ever-present emotional, mental and physical support system. It’s also a byproduct of a slower pace of life, focused more on activities outside of work.
Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of adopting a Mediterranean lifestyle is that you’ll be improving your health and wellness outlook while increasing your enjoyment of life. Shifting gears to this way of life may mean making changes to your work and home life, but those changes will translate to pure happiness in the long run.