“Significant” pain relief was experienced by arthritic women adhering to a Mediterranean diet as part of a Scottish study, it has been reported.
A recent issue of the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases suggests that patients with rheumatoid arthritis subjected to a six week diet intervention showed an improvement in disease activity as well as benefits to the heart.
130 women aged between 30 and 70 from various hospitals in Glasgow attended weekly two-hour Mediterranean diet education sessions, inclusive of cooking classes and the receipt of written information.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in legumes, cereals, nuts, whole grains, fish and olive oil.
Researchers noted: “This study shows that this intervention was achievable and well received by patients. Intake of fruit, vegetables and legumes increased significantly over three months in the intervention group and the use of monounsaturated compared with saturated fats improved."
An additional result from the study was weight loss. The intervention group were found on average to have lost weight (median 0.9 kg over the 6 month period), whereas the control group showed a weight gain (median 3 kg).
Mediterranean diet for a long life?
In another study, Dr Antonia Trichopoulou and team from University of Athens Medical School, Greece, studied the diets of more than 22,000 adults living in Greece.
The research team considered the relationship between an adherence to the Mediterranean diet and total mortality, as well as mortality due to coronary heart disease and mortality due to cancer, with adjustment for age, sex, body-mass index, physical activity level, and other potential confounders.
Participants completed an extensive food frequency questionnaire including 150 foods and beverages commonly consumed in Greece. The traditional Mediterranean diet is usually characterised by a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, and cereals, and a high intake of olive oil but low intake of saturated lipids, a moderately high intake of fish (depending on the proximity to the sea), a low-to-moderate intake of dairy products (mostly from cheese and yoghurt), a low intake of meat and poultry, and a regular but moderate intake of wine (generally with meals).
After a period of 44 months, only 275 deaths occurred. The mortality rate was higher among men than women, increased exponentially with age, and was inversely associated with the level of physical activity.
In this large, population-based study, the researchers found that a higher degree of adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduction in total mortality. The reduction in mortality was evident with respect to both deaths due to coronary heart disease (CHD) and deaths due to cancer, although it was slightly more pronounced with respect to CHD.