Mediterranean Diet: Recipe for Healthy Living in Chico

There’s more to the healthy Mediterranean lifestyle than diet alone.

In Chico and Redding, California,  we’re blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate that gives this place a special quality of life.

And when it comes to quality of life, who can argue with a true Mediterranean lifestyle? The climate, exquisitely seasoned food, robust red wines, and don’t forget the siesta—create the perfect recipe for a longer and healthier life.

You’ve probably heard that Greeks, Italians, and other Mediterranean populations have lower rates of heart disease. Researchers have attributed this to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. 

Mediterranean diet reduces Rhumatoid Arthritis, Lung Cancer, Colon Cancer

Now scientists are finding that the Mediterranean diet has more benefits than lower heart disease rates.  Sufferers of Rheumatoid arthritis do better on a Mediterranean diet. Other studies show a decrease in rates of colon cancer and lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

If disease rates are lower, it follows that life expectancy should also be longer. A major study of 75,000 people from nine European countries showed that those on the Mediterranean diet live longer. The National Institutes of Health—AARP Diet and Health Study of over 380,000 Americans showed that those who followed a Mediterranean style diet for ten years had lower risks of dying from heart disease, cancer or any other causes of death. The benefits of this diet were even greater for smokers!

The hidden power of eating this way may be found in the anti-inflammatory effects of the diet, compared to the standard American diet. Chronic inflammation has been associated with heart disease, arthritis, and mental declines in older adults. The Mediterranean diet with its emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables allows our bodies to take in more inflammation quenching nutrients.

The Mediterranean diet is also loaded with antioxidants that protect our cells from damage by chemicals and other toxins. The diet’s heavy use of colorful fruits, green vegetables, peppers and tomatoes offers you more cancer fighting antioxidants. Liberal use of herbs and seasonings, such as garlic, onions, rosemary, and oregano supercharges the antioxidant effect of this diet. Ounce for ounce spices have some of the highest levels of antioxidant of any foods. In this case, what tastes good is also good for you!

Right now you may be thinking, this sounds like good stuff, but maybe you don’t want to go on a diet.  Well the good news is this isn’t a diet like some sort of weight loss plan—it’s just a way of life that involves making some natural choices and changing the way you eat. Think of it as if you are at a restaurant with a big menu of ala carte healthy choices. You’re free to choose whatever you like as long as it falls within general guidelines. This is one diet you can follow, without feeling deprived. 

Don’t Stop At Diet Alone

There’s another reason why Mediterraneans have fewer chronic diseases—its exercise. Greeks and Italians walk more and bike to work more often than Americans. One study placed pedometers on Americans and Greeks to track how many steps they took each day. The Americans walked on an average of just over 5000 steps per day. Their Greek counterparts walked almost four times further with 19,000 steps a day. All that added exercise combats weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Getting out of the car, biking or walking more may save your life while you save gasoline as well.

This summer, why not make a commitment to live the Mediterranean lifestyle for a longer and healthier life? And now, please excuse me I have to go, because it’s siesta time!

Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC, Internal Health Specialist, Founder of the Digestion Relief Center, in Chico California specializes in effective, natural relief for IBS, food sensitivities and digestive problems. Learn more at

2009, © Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC. All Rights Reserved.

Published in the Inside Out Magazine, Issue 5, 2009.

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