The Mediterranean diet is likely to have similar effect on inflammation among men and women, according to a recent study published in the Nutrition Journal.
The Mediterranean diet consists of foods like salads, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, dairy products with some amounts of fish, poultry and red wine. It is low in red meats and has been considered as among the most heart-healthy diets. It is rich in nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, and prevents heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease etc.
AdvertisementSome studies have indicated that Mediterranean diet can reduce inflammation. Since atherosclerosis or thickening of the vessel walls occurs in the presence of inflammation, foods that fight inflammation could reduce the chances of developing atherosclerosis and thereby prevent a heart attack. Thus, the diet could serve as a natural remedy against heart disease and very few people are likely to object to it. After all, who would say no to a tasty meal which can double up as medication!
Researchers suggested that the Mediterranean diet could have different responses in males and females when it comes to reducing inflammation. Therefore, they conducted an experiment where 38 men and 32 premenopausal women with slightly higher cholesterol levels and with one out of 4 cardiovascular risk factors were administered a planned Mediterranean diet for 4 weeks. Levels of highly sensitive C reactive protein (hsCRP), a marker of inflammation, were measured before and after the 4-week period.
The researchers found that there was no significant decrease in inflammation either in men or women following the introduction of the specific diet. However, men with higher values of hsCRP at baseline saw a reduction in the level, while those with a lower value experienced an increase.
The researchers thus concluded that there is variability in inflammatory response especially among men to the Mediterranean diet depending on their baseline inflammatory status. However, this was a small and short study, and may not have been able to adequately assess the benefits of the Mediterranean diet in inflammation.
Further studies, perhaps based on this study design but larger and longer, would be helpful in establishing the differential effect of a Mediterranean diet in males and females.
Bedard A, Lamarche B, Corneau L, Dodin S, Lemieux S. Sex differences in the impact of the Mediterranean diet on systemic inflammation. Nutrition Journal 2015, 14:46 doi:10.1186/s12937-015-0035-y