The Mediterranean Diet - probably the healthiest diet in the world

The Mediterranean Diet - probably the healthiest diet in the world

The Mediterranean diet is linked to increased longevity, lowered cancer rates, lowered heart disease and strokes, lowered diabetes risk, lowered Alzheimer’s risk, lowered blood pressure, less inflammation, lowered insulin levels, weight loss and lowered blood sugar.

It may seem No wonder the colourful Mediterranean Diet (the Rainbow Diet as we call it) has been voted the Healthiest Diet and, the Best Plant Based diet in the World by 41 Professors and Nutrition experts. 

Please understand that even in the first edition of the book back in 2005, Chris Woollams told you that 'It's a Lifestyle, not just a diet'.

More than ten years ahead of his time

It may seem quite normal nowadays to talk of the colourful Mediterranean Diet as the healthiest diet in the world, but 18 years ago when Chris Woollams first advocated it for people with cancer, this colourful, lifestyle diet was barely even acknowledged. A couple of studies from Harvard Medical School suggested some potential, but that was all.

But Chris started writing articles about the Mediterranean Diet, especially with cancer, and then he penned ‘The Rainbow Diet – and how it can help you beat cancer’. He also told you in that first edition that it could 'Correct, not just Protect'.

Go To: The Rainbow Diet and how it can help you beat cancer
In 2005, when The Rainbow Diet was written, this book was a revelation – it advocated a diet of high fat but 80:20 good unsaturated to bad saturated fat, lowish but whole carbs, and plenty of nuts, seeds and colourful fruit and vegetables as a start point (lots of soluble fibre to boost the immune system and encourage weight loss); it encompassed lifestyle, spending time outdoors, sunshine, exercise, quality sleep and moderate red wine consumption. And a strong sense of 'Community' and of maintaining interests. Now in 2023, just as in 2019, a panel of 41 Professors and Nutrition experts has voted it the World's Healthiest Diet - and - The Best Plant-based Diet.
This is a real diet, with over 95 research studies, and the people of Sardinia who employ this lifestyle have more 80, 90 and 100 year olds than anywhere else in the world. 

CANCERactive Guidelines for increasing cancer survival  

The Rainbow Diet and Exercise are two crucial planks of the CANCERactive guidelines for cancer survival. But we are not alone in this view. In the USA, the American Cancer Society conducted research on stage 3 cancer patients, all of whom had had chemo and surgery. Those who adhered most closely to the ACS guidelines on Diet and Exercise had 31% less cancer recurrence, and 42% less deaths in the seven years the study ran for. Their guidelines are almost exactly those of CANCERactive.


The real-life Mediterranean Diet 

It is important to add two further points.
1. There is no such thing as a single Mediterranean Diet, any more than there is a single United States Diet. People on the South shore of the Mediterranean in Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Egypt, do not really eat an identical diet to the inhabitants of the North shore between Barcelona and Naples.
2. The fats of the Barcelona to Naples inhabitants are not saturated – little consumption of cows’ dairy or beef and lamb is evident historically. The fats are most usually cold-pressed olive oil, nut oils and fish oils.
And so the Rainbow Diet is, more correctly, a fusion of the research into the French Paradox, and the research into the diet of the North shore of the Med.
The Mediterranean Diet details – How to live illness-free, longer
There is no need to fabricate or hypothesise anything about the colourful Mediterranean Diet - the Rainbow Diet. 
It is what it is; it’s there for all to see.It's been around for centuries. It’s not ’gluten-free’ or ’lactose-free’.They do eat croissants and bread, they do eat pasta and whole grain foods and traditionally they did work in boats or in the fields, experiencing perhaps too much sunshine and then too much red wine.
But over the last decade or so there have been a great number of research studies consistently arguing for the health benefits. For example:

   1. Data on first chronic illness and average age at death in Europe shows that the British live to 75.6 years on average but their first chronic illness comes around the age of 60. However, in Italy, life expectancy is 77.7 and the first chronic illness occurs around the age of 75.

    2. A 15-year worldwide study of women over 50 years of age showed that those who adhered most closely to the colourful Mediterranean Diet were 40 per cent more likely to reach 70 years of age than non-adherers, and were free of 11 chronic illnesses at the end of the study.
What is the colourful Mediterranean Diet? Key features
1. The Rainbow Diet is a Lifestyle diet:
     a. Vitamin D. The sunshine vitamin. Obviously, it is better to go in the sunshine for 4 hours a day than take 5,000IUs of supplement, but some people don’t really have a choice.
     b. Exercise. Traditionally, people moved more and sat less - in line with the latest research, we believe people should at least try to take light to moderate exercise, where they get out of breath, almost every day of their lives. Do not sit still for more than an hour; get up and move for 5 minutes. Try to walk 10,000 steps a day. But exercise doesn’t just increase blood oxygen; it produces endorphins which neutralize stress hormones. Yoga is one of the best endorphin producing exercises. 
     c. Drink red wine. While we also know that too much alcohol is a bad thing, wine (particularly red wine matured on the skins and seeds) has real health benefits – one large glass of red wine a day and 5 a week maximum, with meals, not on its own.
     d. Enjoy your food. Have more meals with family and friends. Eat slowly, talk and laugh.
     e. Sleep properly: Mediterranean rooms traditionally were dark, even shuttered, with no artificial light, EMFs, phones and TVs in them. Get 7 hours minimum per night.

     f. Learn to be calm. Worry beads, chess or draughts, sipping a small coffee for an hour, reading the paper, wandering round the market. It de-stresses the body, just like Meditation.

2. Eat more good fat and oil: Particularly ‘healthy fat’ from extra virgin olive oil, daily nuts (like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts) and seeds (like pumpkin, sunflower and sesame), fresh fish and avocado. However, if it is cardiovascular disease rather than cancer you are concerned about, animal fat is not the ‘bad’ fat it is made out to be. Think about eating unpasteurised cheeses. But always aim to have healthy fats outweigh the saturated, 70:30. Your HDL should be 70:30 LDL too.

3. Eat whole carbs: Replace the refined carbs. Carbohydrate should ideally be limited to whole, unrefined carbs like whole oats, whole brown rice and jacket potatoes. Sugar and refined carbs are predominantly bad for you; for example they fuel inflammation in the body. Packaged food, processed food, white bread, pasta, cake, biscuits, bought fruit juices, ice cream, and sweet ‘puddings’ played little part in the Traditional Mediterranean Diet, unless made with raw honey (like Baklava). They are also on many American cancer hospitals’ ’foods to avoid’ lists.
4. Switch from meat to fish: There are few cows along the North shore of the Med. What meat there was, scrambled up rocky hills. So, eat more fish - think tuna, mackerel, sardines. Unfortunately people just don’t eat enough fish these days, so think about a fish or krill oil supplement. Research shows we do not eat as much oily fish as we think we do.
5. Eat plenty of deeply colourful, naturally fibrous vegetables: A variety of salad leaves from chicory and watercress to herbs like coriander (cilantro) and rosemary, fennel, onions (red onions, spring onions), garlic, red and yellow peppers, radishes, beetroot. Eat fruits like tomatoes, apricots and peaches. Always eat more vegetables than fruits.
6. Eat more legumes: Pulses like red kidney beans, lentils, chick peas.

7. Eat more herbs and spices. Oregano, basil, coriander, rosemary, black pepper, garlic, turmeric. The markets on the coast in the South of France and Italy are full of these health-giving, microbe-killing, vitamin-rich foods.
8. Eat more Polyphenols - these are the bioactive compounds that can prevent and correct chronic illnesses. 
9. Graze: Eat 5 small meals a day when you are not entertaining. Snack on your nuts and seeds, avocados or humus. Perhaps a piece of goat’s cheese, or an apple. A little dark chocolate is good for your gut bacteria too.

10. Drink more water. Indeed, make water your normal ’soft’ drink and avoid diet and normal sodas, fizzy soft drinks and bought fruit juices.
There is far, far more information in our book, ‘The Rainbow Diet’, including a shopping cart, a points system and a full list of the many foods you can eat.
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