Mediterranean Health Secrets Promoted by Dr. Oz Protects Bones, Says New Study

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The countries of Italy, Greece and Turkey border the Mediterranean Sea and are known for their robust citizenry who live longer and healthier lives with one of the lowest rates of heart disease. Researchers looking at this health phenomenon have attributed it to low intakes of saturated fat as the primary diet feature that protects their hearts from coronary artery disease. With ancestral roots buried in Turkey, Dr. Mehmet Oz has promoted numerous times that coronary artery disease can be prevented with consuming olive oil and adopting a healthy eating pattern that is referred to as the Mediterranean Diet.

A Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of fish, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds and cereals along with a high intake of olive oil combined with a low intake of saturated fats complemented with low-to-moderate intake of dairy products in the form of cheese and yogurt. Furthermore, a regular—but moderate—intake of red wine during meals is believed to not only make meals more enjoyable, but also aids digestion and provides beneficial antioxidants.

In a recent study to be published in the October issue of the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM), researchers have noted that not unlike a decreased incidence of heart disease in the Mediterranean Basin, there is also a lower incidence of osteoporosis in Mediterranean people in comparison to people of non-Mediterranean European countries.

In the study, led by researcher José Manuel Fernández-Real, MD, PhD, of Hospital Dr. Josep Trueta in Girona, Spain, he and his colleagues investigated whether there is a connection between eating a diet rich in olive oil and having healthy bones. The study involved 127 men, 55 to 80 years of age without prior cardiovascular disease, but diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and at least three cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, dysliopdemia and a family history of premature cardiovascular disease.

Baseline measurements of the study participants’ blood levels of osteocalcin (an important biomolecule for building bone, bone mineralization and maintaining calcium ion homeostasis), glucose, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides were performed and recorded followed by a repeated measurement two years later for comparative analysis. During the two-year intervening period of the study, the participants were randomly divided into three diet groups: Mediterranean diet with mixed nuts, Mediterranean diet with virgin olive oil, and a non-Mediterranean low-fat diet.

What the researchers found was that only members of the group that were on the Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil measured a significant increase in blood levels of osteocalcin and a number of other bone formation markers important to bone maintenance and health. The Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts group and the low-fat diet group both had decreased levels of serum calcium, whereas the olive oil supplement group maintained their earlier recorded levels.

“The intake of olive oil has been related to the prevention of osteoporosis in experimental and in vitro models,” said José Manuel Fernández-Real, MD, PhD. “This is the first randomized study which demonstrates that olive oil preserves bone, at least as inferred by circulating bone markers, in humans.”

Furthermore, the results also showed a positive effect between consuming olive oil and blood glucose levels in the group of test subjects on the Mediterranean diet with olive oil.

“It’s important to note that circulating osteocalcin was associated with preserved insulin secretion in subjects taking olive oil,” added Fernández-Real. “Osteocalcin has also been described to increase insulin secretion in experimental models.”

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In another article to be published soon in the same issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, a non-diet related element of good health (also promoted by Dr. Oz in conjunction with a Mediterranean diet) is the benefit of exercise toward good bone health in pre-menopausal women.

The results of a study titled “Physical Activity in Relation to Serum Sclerostin, Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), and Bone Turnover Markers in Healthy Premenopausal Women: A Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Study” tells us that women who have more than two hours of physical activity per week have significantly lower levels of serum sclerostin than those women who had less than two hours of physical activity per week.

Sclerostin is a glycoprotein produced almost exclusively by osteoclasts (one type of bone cell), that upon release, makes its way to the surface of the bone where it inhibits the creation of cells that help bones develop. Osteoclasts are cells involved in the breaking down of bone, whereas osteoblasts are cells that build bone.

“Physical activity training is conceptually simple, inexpensive, and can serve practical purposes including reducing the risk of low bone mass, osteoporosis, and consequently fractures,” says Mohammed-Salleh M. Ardawi, PhD, FRCPath, professor at the Center of Excellence for Osteoporosis Research and Faculty of Medicine at King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia and lead researcher for this study. “Our study found that even minor changes in physical activity were associated with clear effects on serum levels of sclerostin, IGF-1 and bone turnover markers.”

For additional informative articles about health benefits such as longevity by adopting a Mediterranean diet lifestyle, follow this link to an article titled “Popular Diet Prolongs Life by 2-3 Years: 4 Studies Conclusively Prove.”

Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile

References:

“Mediterranean Health Secrets” The Dr. Oz Show

“A Mediterranean Diet Enriched with Olive Oil is Associated with Higher Serum Total Osteocalcin Levels in Elderly Men at High Cardiovascular Risk,” will appear in the October 2012 issue of JCEM; José Manuel Fernández-Real, MD, PhD, et al.

“Physical Activity in Relation to Serum Sclerostin, Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1), and Bone Turnover Markers in Healthy Premenopausal Women: A Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Study” will appear in the October 2012 issue of JCEM; Mohammed-Salleh M. Ardawi, PhD, et al.

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