FOLLOWING THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET AND HEALTH FROM CONCEPTION TO ADULTHOOD
By Gianfranco TRAPANI
The interaction between genetics and environmental factors, cause the progressive ageing of the human body during the entire life cycle. They begin to show at conception and not, as it is usually believed, later in life.
The ageing mechanisms, that cause cellular changes, can be slowed down by appropriate preventative action involving diet, environment and lifestyle.
For thousands of years the populations that lived around the Mediterranean basin survived by eating only very few seasonal foods, while carrying out daily hard work, thanks to the Mediterranean diet (MD), which was for them a daily habit.
Following a strictly traditional MD is associated with low mortality (higher longevity) and a lower risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cancer, the metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, and depression (1). Adherence to the MD measured by the Mediterranean Index, for instance, is correlated with a decrease in the incidence of colorectal cancer (2).
Numerous studies show how adherence to the MD decreases inflammation in the body, thanks to single bioactive nutrients and the totality of foods which characterize it. Thus the risk of degenerative chronic diseases is reduced from infancy to adulthood (3).
Clinical studies have shown that some of the diet’s components, such as High Standard (EVO HS) extra-virgin olive oil, which contains antioxidants, polyunsaturated omega-3 and -6 acids, polyphenols and flavonoids, have beneficial antiaging effects, reducing chronic diseases and allowing a greater, healthy longevity (1).
As EVO HS oil is an excellent source of phytochemicals, including polyphenolic compounds, squalene, alpha-tocopherol, and carotenoids, it can be considered as a “nutraceutical” or “functional” food, from infancy to old age, and it is perfect to delay ageing of the body (4).
Adhering to MD during the first 1000 days that is from conception to the first two years of life, is desirable in many fields of application as follows:
- Strong adherence to MD before conceiving in couples undergoing IV fertilization through intracytoplasmic injection of sperm increases the chances of a successful pregnancy. (5)
- The children of mothers, who followed a strict MD during gestation, run a lower risk of developing asthma and allergic diseases during the early years (6).
- Infants who follow the style of the adults’ diet (MD), while being weaned, tend to regulate food consumption in a more balanced manner, and reach a more correct Body Mass Index (BMI) when they grow up. They also prefer healthier foods (complex rather than simple carbohydrates) (7).
- The perception of taste, relating to the foods in the maternal diet, experienced by the foetus through the taste of the amniotic fluid during pregnancy, by the breast fed baby and by the baby tasting the typical foods of the MD during their first 1000 days of life, influences and determines taste development in later food choice (8).
- Reducing salt and sugar in babies and children’s foods, (9) starting the weaning period with typical MD foods such as fruit and vegetables, rather than starch based foods, will influence that child for the rest of its life (10).
Parental example is paramount to guide their children’s eating habits (11 -12). A strict adherence to the MD will be recognized, though subconsciously, by the children and continued by them in the future.
The aim is to provide pediatricians, gynecologists, obstetricians, nutritionists, dieticians, and all the health professionals caring for the health of children and their families, this knowledge about EVO HS olive oil and the Mediterranean Diet, so that they can pass down to families healthy eating habits to positively affect the state of children’s health, from conception to adulthood (13).
- Chedraui P.,Pérez-López FR.: “Nutrition and health during mid-life: searching for solutions and meeting challenges for the aging population.” Climacteric.2013 Aug;16 Suppl 1:85-95. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2013.802884.
- Agnoli C, Grioni S, Sieri S, Palli D, Masala G, Sacerdote C, Vineis P, Tumino R, Giurdanella MC, Pala V, Berrino F, Mattiello A, Panico S, Krogh V. “Italian Mediterranean Index and risk of colorectal cancer in the Italian section of the EPIC cohort.” Int J Cancer. 2013 Mar 15;132(6):1404-11. doi: 10.1002/ijc.27740. Epub 2012 Aug 7.
- Ostan R., Lanzarini C., Pini E., Scurti M., Vianello D., Bertarelli C., Fabbri C., Izzi M., Palmas G., Biondi F., Martucci M., Bellavista E., Salvioli S., Capri M., Franceschi C., Santoro A.: “Inflammaging and cancer: a challenge for the Mediterranean diet.”Nutrients. 2015 Apr 9;7(4):2589-621. doi: 10.3390/nu7042589.
- Caramia G.: Virgin olive oil. From legend to scientific knowledge of the nutraceutical aspects. Pediatr Med Chir. 2006;28(1-3):9-23.
- Vujkovic M., de Vries JH., Lindemans J., Macklon NS., van der Spek PJ., Steegers EA., Steegers-Theunissen RP.: “The preconception Mediterranean dietary pattern in couples undergoing in vitro fertilization/intracytoplasmic sperm injection treatment increases the chance of pregnancy.” Fertil Steril. 2010 Nov;94(6):2096-101. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.12.079. Epub 2010 Mar 1.
- Chatzi L., Torrent M., Romieu I., Garcia-Esteban R., Ferrer C., Vioque J, Kogevinas M, Sunyer J.: “Mediterranean diet in pregnancy is protective for wheeze and atopy in childhood.” Thorax. 2008 Jun;63(6):507-13. doi: 10.1136/thx.2007.081745. Epub 2008 Jan 15.
- Townsend E., Pitchford N.J.: “Baby knows best? The impact of weaning style on food preferences and body mass index in early childhood in a case–controlled sample” BMJ Open 2012;2:e000298 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000298
- Vereijken CM, Weenen H,Hetherington MM: “Feeding infants and young children. From guidelines to practice-conclusions and future directions.” Appetite. 2011 Dec;57(3):839-43. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.07.009. Epub 2011 Jul 27.
- Stein L.J., Cowart B.J., and Beauchamp Gary K.:“The development of salty taste acceptance is related to dietary experience in human infants: a prospective study” Am J Clin Nutr January 2012 vol. 95 no. 1 123-129
- Mennella JA. “Ontogeny of taste preferences: basic biology and implications for health.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Mar;99(3):704S-11S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.067694. Epub 2014 Jan 22.
- Scaglioni S., Salvioni M., Galimberti C.: “Influence of parental attitudes in the development of children eating behaviour.” Br J Nutr. 2008 Feb;99 Suppl 1:S22-5. doi: 10.1017/S0007114508892471
- Fanos V. Metabolomica e microbiomica. La medicina personalizzata dal feto all’adulto. Hygeia Press, Quartu S. Elena 2015
- Trapani G, Calvi S. La dieta dei primi 1000 giorni di vita. Mondadori, Milano 2016
PASTA, OIL AND WINE
THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET