Organised by global scientific leaders, the Mediterranean Diet Roundtable is an exclusive networking event bringing together the entire spectrum of decision-makers in the U.S. Food Industry, along with Doctors, Nutritionists, and Directors of Food Service programs. The goal of the event was to address the important topic of providing Mediterranean food choices, to grant a balanced diet in structures such as schools, hospitals, cafeterias, seniors’ centers, as well as stores. Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean Diet reduces the risk of certain illnesses such as heart disease and cancer among others. A team of leading experts and professionals discussed all levels of Mediterranean nutrition aspects, menu’s engineering, stores and cafeteria strategies. Prof Giovanni Scapagnini was part of the key discussion on ageing “Diet, Health and Longevity: Scientific Evidence of the Mediterranean Diet” that included leading experts such as Artemis P. Simopoulos, M.D. (Founder, Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health) and Dr. Tara Narula, M.D. (Cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital and CBS Health News Contributor).
Prof Scapagnini of Orgaia and Chair of the event said:
“With obesity growing as a major real problem around the world and with the food and drinks industry being a huge business, the event focused on the positive impact of what the Mediterranean Diet can have on health, longevity and the well-being of society while dealing with major non communicable diseases such as cancer, obesity and diabetes.”
The Mediterranean Diet is a path to longevity with numerous studies showing that it protects from heart disease and cancer, top causes of death in the western world. Many Mediterranean countries have the highest life expectancies in the world. The Italian island of Sardinia and the Greek island of Ikaria are two of the five identified blue zones in the world. A blue zone is a location in which its inhabitants live much longer lives. This may be attributed to genes but also to the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle: plant based diet, physical activity and plenty of social contact. The Mediterranean diet includes certain “ingredients” that have been associated consistently with longevity, better heart and cognitive health. The “longevity ingredients” in this eating pattern are vegetables, plants in the form of greens and herbs, legumes, fish, dairy from free-range animals, olive oil as the main source of fat, very little meat and a bit of alcohol.
Last year a comprehensive literature review conducted by Italian researchers on an overall population of over 4,000,000 showed that a Mediterranean diet can reduce risk of death by 8%. The EPIC Elderly Study which included information of over 74,000 Europeans showed that adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with lower cause mortality. Another study that analyzed and compared the diets of centenarians from the Sicani Mountains in Sicily who had a close adherence to the Mediterranean diet with those of Palermo residents who were following a more westernized diet, found that adherence to the diet had a significant effect on mortality. It was noted that low animal protein, low glycemic index and high polyphenol content regulates and influences certain pathways and chemicals of the body that are involved in longevity. Strategies on how to incorporate the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle for a US population were discussed at the roundtable.
Sergio Davinelli, Scientific Board Member of Orgaia, and member of the Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Molise, Italy, who also attended the event, said:
“The Mediterranean Diet is recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of many countries, in truth it cannot be codified as a unique set of recipes and food patterns. Most people know by now what its main philosophy is and its main components are, i.e., the use of olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fats, the abundant use of legumes, fresh vegetables and fruits, some dairy products, lots of fish, little meat, and a surprising variety of cereals, used in many different ways. We at Orgaia believe such diet can become a huge asset in improving global health and nutritional education while reducing the obesity epidemic humanity faces”.