David Keisler

David Keisler

Making wise choices about our health is important as one-third of our longevity is somewhat determined by genetics and the other two-thirds is left up to us. Therefore practicing healthy lifestyle modifications will have a positive influence on our health.

One decision concerns diet. Calorie counting may not be as important in most situations as is the decision to eat only healthy foods. Avoiding the frequent consumption of unhealthy calories such as high fructose corn syrup and trans fats is now known to be a good practice.

There are several areas in the world where people live longer and healthier and in most instances a significant part of this fact is related to their diet.

Consider the Mediterranean diet as one that has significant benefits. The essence of this eating style does not embellish weight loss. Rather it seems to have developed naturally from foods available to those who live in Italy and Greece and other countries bordering on the Mediterranean Sea. With this eating style, there is limited consumption of animal fat. Instead, olive oil is a significant source of fat calories. Olive oil is a healthy source of the favorable monounsaturated form of fat. Also the main source of non-meat animal protein is fish.

The locals' main sources of dairy products are mostly yogurt and cheese. Fruits and vegetables as well as beans and legumes are important foods in this area near the sea. There is moderate consumption of wine and minimal consumption or refined carbohydrates and sugar. Whole grains and cereals are eaten much more often that refined grains.

The benefits of this natural style of eating are significant. Compared to other areas of the world, such as the U.S., there is a decreased all-cause mortality noticed in those practicing this form of eating. There is a decreased risk of coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and hypertension as well as obesity and the metabolic syndrome.

Therefore it is recommended to avoid white rice, white bread and sugar. Eat nuts and legumes at least once a day and fruit two to three times daily. Include whole grains with most meals

Legumes include garbanzo beans, peas, lentils, soy beans, pinto beans, black beans and many others. This family of foods in many cases has nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their roots that put nitrogen back into the soil. This is beneficial for crop rotation. Add alfalfa, clover and peanuts to the list of legumes.

Archeological studies suggest that pea seeds found in some parts of Switzerland date back to over 5,000 years ago and probably originated in the eastern Mediterranean area of Mesopotamia.

In the year 2020, try to develop 20/20 vision for the future by incorporating the Mediterranean diet as a healthy lifestyle modification. Happy New Year!

David KeislerĀ is a gastroenterologist and internist in Aiken.