The Primary Tenets of the Mediterranean Diet

Dr. David Wiss

August 30, 2022


We’ve introduced the concept of anti-inflammatory eating and encouraged you to select foods with the highest known antioxidant potential. You’ve been encouraged to select foods high in prebiotic fiber for gut health which are known to improve mood.

We’ve emphasized the importance of variety, eating for bacterial diversity and encouraged expansion into new foods. One example could be intact whole grains, which are more beneficial for mental health than refined grains. Another example could be fermented dairy products such as full-fat unsweetened yogurt or kefir.

Perhaps you’ve begun incorporating more seafood and fish such as salmon, shrimp, or sardines. Omega-3 fatty acids are so important for brain health. Hopefully, you’ve taken heed to our emphasis on nuts and seeds, and perhaps are even enjoying the unsalted versions! Eating the right kind of anti-inflammatory fats is a key principle of Wise Mind Nutrition. Don’t be afraid to use organic extra virgin olive oil.

Finally, you’re cooking many meals and dishes at home. What a beautiful way of life that in many ways goes against this rapidly changing world. If this is the case, then you’re following many of the tenets of the Mediterranean Diet, which is the most evidence-based nutrition approach to improving mental health that exists.

The Mediterranean Diet is based on traditional foods that people have been eating for centuries in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Spain, Greece, and Italy. This way of eating (and living) is the ultimate anti-inflammatory diet. When you reduce inflammation, you allow your immune system to do the necessary healing work. Many people have chronic inflammation and are not even aware. It is often these people that report improved mood when improving their food.

Mediterranean Sea

How to Eat the Mediterranean Diet

It’s no surprise that the US is not a leader in dietary patterns. Here are the primary tenets of Mediterranean-style eating:

• Emphasize: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, potatoes, fish/seafood, beans/legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil.
• Enjoy: poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt.
• Eat less frequently: red meat, processed meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, added sugars, refined grains, refined oils, and other ultra-processed foods.
• Enjoy fruit for dessert or incorporate desserts that have some whole foods in them.
• Cook at home and share meals with others. We cannot emphasize this enough.
• If choosing to consume alcohol, stick with red wine and limit it to one glass.
• Finally, minimize stress levels. That could also include not counting calories or tracking macros.

Are there some tenets of the Mediterranean Diet that you still need to focus on? Do you need to boost your fiber intake? Remember, you’re perfect just the way you are and there’s always room for improvement.