It’s been praised for preventing heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. But can the Mediterranean Diet also aid sleep and motivate us to work out more often? Survey says yes! According to a new study, following a Mediterranean diet may lead to better sleep, increased physical activity, and (special bonus) decreased abdominal fat (six-pack, anyone?) Effect of Mediterranean diet vs prudent diet combined with physical activity on OSAS: a randomized trial. Papandreou C, Schiza SE, Bouloukaki I, et al. Preventative Medicine and Nutrition Clinic, Medical School, University of Crete, Herakloin, Greece. European Respiratory Journal. 2011 Oct 27.
The study targeted those with Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS), a fancy term for frequently irregular breathing that occurs during sleep (not to mention causes some serious snoring). OSAS is one of the most prevalent sleep-related disorders, with approximately 2-10 percent of the adult population affected.
The study’s participants were also obese, a factor that increases the prevalence of OSAS up to 70 percent. After six months of maintaining a Mediterranean Diet, patients experienced a significant decrease in sleep disturbances and an increase in physical activity.
So where exactly does this super-diet come from? It’s found in the Mediterranean Basin, which includes parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa (Greece, Turkey, and Morocco, to name a few). What’s included in this heart-heatlhy diet?
- Mostly fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes, and nuts
- Swapping butter (sorry Paula) with healthy fats like olive oil (from the area’s indigenous olive trees!)
- Using fresh herbs and spices for some Flava-flav
- Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week, and limiting red meat
- Drinking red wine in moderation (cheers to that!)
- Getting plenty of exercise (who said a diet only includes food?)
Feel compelled to test the super sleeping powers of this Mediterranean lifestyle? No need to book a flight across the pond. The basics of this diet are easy to maintain in just about any area— it’s all about making the right food choices, starting with those listed above— just remember that there are other sleep solutions as well!