Results from a newly published nutrition study suggest that adhering to a Mediterranean diet can improve your quality of life, mainly by reducing the incidence of depressive symptoms, pain, stiffness, and disability in a North American cohort.
The term Mediterranean diet has been utilized to characterize the diet of people from Spain, Italy, Greece and other Mediterranean countries. Previous research has shown that keeping to a Mediterranean diet is associated with positive health outcomes with regards to mental, cardiovascular, metabolic, and musculoskeletal health. The concept of quality of life is a self-reported health-related outcome and vital measure, it is commonly used to assess the impact a certain disease or condition has on an individual’s ability to function and complete activities of daily living. There is distinct scarcity of research investigating the effect adhering to this type of diet has on the quality of life among North Americans. Researchers used data from the osteoarthritis initiative database in order to investigate whether sticking to a Mediterranean diet was significantly predictive of decreased rates of depression, disability, stiffness, and pain. The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, used aMED, a tool designed to evaluate certain aspects of the participants’ diet including vitamin and mineral intake among others.
Individuals with a high aMED score had a lower body mass index score (measure of obesity) and a lesser prevalence of diabetes. An increased aMED score was connected to a lower incidence of fractures.
In the end, the researchers found that adhering to a Mediterranean diet was significantly and positively associated with an improved quality of life, decreased levels of disability, depression, and stiffness. The authors caution that there are limitations to their study, mainly being that the direction of causality cannot be determined due to the nature of the survey (it was conducted at one point in time only). It is entirely plausible that socio-economic status could be explaining most of the positive relationship between consuming a Mediterranean diet and experiencing a better quality of life. It might also be that study participants who initially felt they had a better quality of life ate healthier.
Written By: Melissa Booker