Good Life

Health Break: Mediterranean lifestyle could be a life-changer

If you’ve been looking for a way to shape up your diet and improve your health — whether you’re interested in weight loss, chronic-disease management, preventing diabetes or simply to better nourish your body — now is the time to sample a taste of the Mediterranean lifestyle.

The basic Mediterranean diet includes a reliance on plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, olives and olive oil along with some cheese, yogurt, fish, poultry, eggs and red wine. These foods form the basis of the plan and provide thousands of micronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber that work together to protect against chronic disease.

Most of the foods on the plan are fresh, seasonal, whole foods — they are not processed. Preparation methods tend to be simple; foods are rarely deep-fried. Only small amounts of saturated fat, sodium, sweets and meat are part of the plan.

The addition of red wine also is a typical component of the diet. There is evidence to support that half to one drink a day is associated with 26 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 35 percent decrease in the risk of mortality.

The benefits of olive oil are plentiful. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat — mainly omega-9. Consume about 20 percent of calories from monounsaturated fat each day for a healthy diet. But, other oils besides olive will provide a benefit. They include canola, sunflower, safflower, peanut, pistachio, almond and avocado. These are often referred to as “healthy fats” and are preferred over saturated fats in the diet.

The Mediterranean diet is potentially good for a number of chronic conditions. These include diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and skin cancer.

Complementing the eating plan, the Mediterranean lifestyle also focuses on physical activity, relaxed and enjoyable meals away from work, and a less hurried approach to life. Typical meals can last several hours, and they’re focused on talking, engaging and laughing with loved ones. This is much different than what most Americans do at meal times, because often meals are hurried and the content not as healthy.

To learn more about this diet and lifestyle, individuals between the ages of 35 and 65 are encouraged to attend a free two-part event, May 5 and 12, sponsored by Mount Nittany Health and Fit for Play Physical Therapy.

On May 5, attendees can participate in a free, nonfasting health screening, including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and more. On May 12, attendees can participate in an appetizer social, informative Mediterranean lifestyle seminars, a Mediterranean cooking demonstration and a wine and chocolate pairing. Health screening results will also be available during this time as well.

Because space is limited, registration is required by calling 861-8122 or by visiting