The Mediterranean Diet and PTS

Unlike other trendy diets that have popped up over the last century, the Mediterranean diet is one that is as rich with history as it is with fatty acids. The roots of the diet can be traced back centuries to the region from which it derives its name. Voted the best diet of the year in 2020, it’s now been shown to potentially have a tremendous effect on post-traumatic stress (PTS).

A new study conducted by investigators from Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that adhering to the Mediterranean diet might not just minimize the symptoms of PTS; it might actually prevent the condition. That’s a significant marker of progress on a condition that has proven to be unique at every twist and turn. 

So what’s in the Mediterranean diet? The diet is characterized by foods that are traditional in France, Spain, Greece, and Italy, all of which border the Mediterranean Sea. The idea of a Mediterranean diet should evoke a sense of freshness; it hinges largely on fresh foods, especially produce. Olive oil is a staple, serving as one of the diet’s key fat sources. In addition to limiting alcohol intake, the diet also de-emphasizes meats, processed foods, added sugars, and refined grains. 

Mediterranean cooking focuses on fruits and vegetables, fats which are heart-healthy, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Common tenets of the diet include tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, apples, oranges, strawberries, oats, brown rice, chickpeas (including hummus!), yogurt, garlic, basil, mint, rosemary, peanut butter, salmon, shrimp, and crab. Prior to this study connecting the diet to PTS, the Mediterranean diet has been shown to help prevent heart attacks and heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, along with promoting weight loss and reducing the risk of premature death. 

Any significant dietary changes are always best overseen and managed by a professional, such as a doctor and/or dietician. But with all the benefits afforded by the Mediterranean diet from heart health to increased life expectancy, emphasizing these options in any diet isn’t a bad idea. Time and exploration will tell us more about how the Mediterranean diet can affect PTS patients long-term, but for now, initial results are very promising! 

Learn more about how IFHF’s work helps research, diagnose, and treat PTS in our military service members.


Posted on October 23 2023 in Blog

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