The health and longevity benefits offered by the Mediterranean diet were the focus of a lecture presented by Executive Dean of Health and Biomedical Sciences at RMIT University Catherine Itsiopoulos, during the inaugural Global Diaspora Medical Forum in Greece.

The Forum was held in Thessaloniki as part of the annual Aristotle Medical Forum, organised by the Aristotle University’s School of Medicine, under the auspices of the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad.

Prof. Itsiopoulos presented research results spanning various studies that prove the diet is rich in nutrients effective in combating inflammation, which in turn is responsible for many chronic illnesses.

“We know now that chronic illnesses including Alzheimer’s, coronary heart disease, visceral obesity, diabetes and osteoarthritis are largely caused by chronic inflammation,” Prof. Itsiopoulos said.

“The Mediterranean diet is incredibly palatable, sustainable and rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients. It is the perfect medicine for health and longevity.”

Among data presented, were results from a research conducted in Australia based on the diet followed by the Greek diaspora.

Over the course of 12 weeks, diabetes patients who had never followed the Mediterranean diet before, adopted an eating plan consisting of typical foods consumed by Greek Australians, like dolmades, gemista, extra virgin olive oil, dried fruit and nuts.

Prof. Itsiopoulos presented the study results showing the effect on the patients’ body functions equated to a 10% reduction of morbidity risk from coronary heart disease.

Patients were also found to have lost weight and developed a preference for the Mediterranean diet.

Evidence from a different study presented at the forum confirmed there are more anti-inflammatory offerings in a Mediterranean diet compared to a diet low in fat.

Other benefits related to improvement indicators in a range of conditions including dementia, anxiety and depression.