managing an LCHF lifestyle in Israel
I have to admit, I was chocked reading “The Big Fat Surprise” by Nina Teicholz.
I mean, facts about the wrongly fat-scare are not new to me. But there was one chapter in the book that in particular made my jaw drop. Literally! The chapter about olive oil and the Mediterranean diet.
I already knew that Ancel Keys had started the idea about the Mediterranean diet while collecting data for his 6 & 7 Countries studies. He had spent time on one of the Greek islands, Crete, and observed their eating habits and health. But was it the same diet as we think of today? Many who try to eat healthy, and do so by eating the Mediterranean diet, are pretty sure there is plenty of evidence for it. I know I thought that researchers had checked it. Well … Apparently not!
First of all, there still is no real consensus of what the Mediterranean diet actually is. It seems like different countries have their own definition. After all, they do eat quite differently in Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and on all the islands in that sea. True, most populations eating a traditional way include ‘fruit-n-vegetables’ as well as fish in their menu, but not all use ‘whole-grains’ and they definitely differ when it comes to amounts and types of fats and meat.
Second of all, no real clinical studies have actually been done, only observational ones. The clinical studies that are quoted for their results as being in favor, were only “Mediterranean-like”, including one study where the participants were served mostly Indian (!) food items, and another where they used margarine (!) instead of olive oil. HUH???
Third of all, it seems that most of the data in favor of the Mediterranean diet presented today is based on Ancel Keys’s data from the 1960s; data collected in a few questionnaires of 33 and 34 men respectively. Some of them collected during lent when religious people avoid eating meat and other animal products, thus cutting about half of their saturated fat intake. (And Greek people at the time were pretty traditional in their religion.) So how significant can these data be?
Fourth of all, the Crete population also took naps (stress management), worked their fields (exercise), tended to their own animals (grass fed, free range), and met at the village tavern and at local events (socializing). How much of that influenced their quality of life? And how much of that do we take into account when we talk about healthy diets?
Fifth of all, the Crete diet makes Cretans healthy. Would it work as well for Inuits whose ancestors mostly lived on fish and fat? Would it work as well for Kitavans whose ancestors mostly lived on tubers, coconut, and fish? How many of us have ancestors from Crete???
So tell me, how can anyone claim the Mediterranean diet being the best diet for humans?
But, I did found one great thing about the Mediterranean diet! It is quite low in sugars. If you skip the breads.