The Mediterranean diet, a divine meal ready to spread

Millenniums well-fitted with each other by the concave area, stacked forming high mounds, are now the foundations and walls on which the Roman quarter of Testaccio stands. On the Tiber River came thousands of barges carrying from different shores of the Mediterranean countless pitchers, loaded with oil and wine, to fill the meals and bacchanals of the ancient Romans. That mud that now underpins the lives of the inhabitants and visitors of the area is the physical legacy and the archive that remains of that time, but its heritage transcends beyond. This oil and wine form, together with bread, the triad of a divine diet, worthy of gods, which has spread for centuries beyond the sea and is glimpsed, along with other ingredients such as vegetables, fruits, nuts and a small amount of fish and car as one of the healthiest eating options that confronts the obesity epidemic that travels the planet by the advancement of the ultraprocessed and sedentary lifestyles.

It is recognized as the Mediterranean diet, a combination of food and processing processes with more than 2,000 years of history, which is a world reference in nutrition and lifestyle and was declared in 2013 as a global intangible heritage by the Organization of Education, Science and Culture (Unesco). "It can be highlighted the type of fat that characterizes it as olive oil, fish and nuts; proportions in the main nutrients of their recipes, which are cereals and vegetables as a basis, and meats or similar as a side dish; and the richness in micronutrients by the use of seasonal vegetables, aromatic herbs and seasonings," says the Mediterranean Diet Foundation. Elements that join a best practice with regard to the transfer of knowledge in agriculture, crops, fishing, the preservation of products, their elaboration and their shared way of consuming them. "Encourages the encounter between cultures, local production and biodiversity," the experts convened during the event More than 2,000 years of Mediterranean diet, held these days at the headquarters of the UN (FAO), in Rome, to prevent manoetry, as set out in the 2030 agenda.

"It is a beautiful, good, healthy and pleasure lifestyle. A traditional system that brings biodiversity. Oil, bread and wine were the triad that in classical antiquity was a divine gift and related to the gods Athena, Démeter and Baco," said Marino Niola, co-director of the Center for Social Research on the Mediterranean Diet (MedEatResearch), who also emphasized that one of the most interesting benefits of this diet has been the coexistence between cultures, the exchange of knowledge, traditions and commerce. "The Mediterranean diet is an engine of history, of economics, of politics. It allowed dialogue between three continents, with food coming from Lebanon, with mixtures of the cultures of the Aegean, Etruscan, Roman... It is a diet resulting from evolution, of a great food parliament," said Italian communicator Alberto Angela, who stressed that their populations were right to open up to other regions and assume, for example, pizzas, tomato from Latin America and buffaloes with which to make the cheeses, which predictably came from Asia. "We're literally eating history. The union of a people, their languages, their culture, everything together," he said. "It's the result of migrations.

We're literally eating history. The union of a people, its languages, its culture, all together

Alberto Angela, publicist

But it wasn't until 1975 that it was called the Mediterranean diet, as Recalled by MedEatResearch anthropologist and co-director Elisabetta Moro, who noted that it was the pair of American scientists Ancel Keys and Margaret Haney who named this lifestyle that proved to be healthier for heart than that of American society. "Keys presented evidence that in the United States heart attacks were a major cause of death in adults," said Moro, who added that Napolitan professor Gino Bergami saw that his locality was barely affected by cardiovascular disease and came up with compare Minneapolis' food patterns with Naples. The conclusion was that poor Italians ate mainly grains and vegetables, and rich Americans consumed more meat and milk. "He found the main difference in cholesterol levels, and from 1958 he promoted the so-called Study of the Seven Countries, with which he concluded that food was healthier in Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia and Japan than in the Netherlands, Finland and the United States" , illustrates Moro. Later, there have been numerous researches that support its benefits, such as the Predimed trial published in 2013, which concluded that it reduces circulatory problems by 66%, by 30% infarctions and strokes and by 68% the risk of breast cancer.

The debate also concerned the desirability of exporting the Mediterranean diet to other regions of the world and the promotion of seasonal, fresh and close foods, compared to the ultraprocessed and loaded with sugars, saturated fats and oils, which its lower prices, its strong flavors or the immediacy of its consumption invade the stomachs of the population. A message launched to ensure sustainability and food sovereignty and to prevent the growing and unstoppable number of 40 million overweight children under the age of five and more than 2 billion adults with this suffering. "Sustainable food systems in general, and the Mediterranean diet in particular, are concrete responses to many problems in our region, such as food insecurity, climate change, youth unemployment and territorial inequalities", said the Secretary-General of the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM), Plácido Plaza, at another recent meeting held at FAO to highlight this diet.