Wellness circles have been linking the Mediterranean diet to life longevity for a couple of decades at this point. After all, a diet rich in healthy fats, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables can do wonders for keeping some of the leading causes of death at bay. Now, research suggests following a Mediterranean diet may also prolong the development of skin cancer. Let’s take a look at the connection between the Mediterranean diet and skincare, plus how supplements like Olive Leaf Extract may improve the vitality of your body’s largest organ!
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
As the name implies, a Mediterranean diet is predominantly followed by people who live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Over the past few decades, these culinary preferences have made quite the splash in the West. That’s because studies found that dietary choices of locals in this area tends to lead to longer, healthier lives.
The location of the Mediterranean is conducive for cultivating nutrient-dense foods. Minerals from the sea are great for enriching the soil to grow fruits and vegetables. Climates in these countries are ideal for a variety of foods to grow. Plus, there’s omega-rich fish readily available in the nearby waters.
Mediterranean diet foods include:
- Whole grains (farro, bulgur)
- Lean poultry
- Wild-caught fish
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Beans (garbanzo, kidney)
- Nuts (cashews, pistachios, walnuts)
- Sesame seeds
- Tahini sauce
- Feta cheese
The reason these foods help people live a longer, healthier life is that they aren’t highly processed. A Mediterranean diet is very close to a whole foods diet. Therefore, you’re not filling your body with a bunch of artificial ingredients that clog up in the system.
In addition, a Mediterranean diet doesn’t rely on red meat as its main source of protein. It uses poultry, fish, and plant-based sources. These options are far less inflammatory to the system.
Foods commonly consumed through a Mediterranean diet don’t add indigestible food particles that build-up and cause plaque in the arteries. That’s why studies suggest that a Mediterranean diet is effective for preventing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer. Now, scientists are realizing that this lifestyle choice can also have an impact on our skin health.
Mediterranean Diet and Skin Cancer Study
Scientists in France, Belgium, and Germany have been following 98,995 French women since 1990. These women are within the ages of 40 and 65 years old. During the course of this study, the women had to check in every two to three years. At the time of this check-in, the women were asked a few dietary questions.
One of their tasks was to choose a number from a scale of zero to nine to describe how strict they maintained a Mediterranean diet. Nine correlated with a regimented following, while zero implied that they didn’t adhere to the diet at all.
Throughout the study, there were three primary types of skin cancer that researchers analyzed.
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
Researchers compared skin cancer cases to the self-perceived scores the participants gave themselves for adhering to a Mediterranean diet. The scientists reported a 95% confidence interval (CI) that following a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of developing melanoma and BCC. They did report that adhering to a Mediterranean diet didn’t have much effect on cases of SCC.
How Does a Mediterranean Diet Help Skincare?
Many researchers hypothesize that the primary reason a Mediterranean diet derails the development of certain skin cancers has to do with its food staples’ elevated levels of fats and proteins. One of the most significant staples in the Mediterranean diet, which sets it apart from all other healthy dietary choices, is the inclusion of the olive.
Olives, Healthy Fats, and Skin
Olives are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids are easier for our bodies to break down. Therefore, they are efficient energy sources that don’t weigh down the system or add excessive fatty tissues around the gut lining.
Since our body can burn through monounsaturated fats easier than saturated fats, the primary fats found in red meat, it leaves less room for inflammation. Inflammation is the root of all disease, including skin cancer.
In addition, monounsaturated fatty acids contain amino acids that are essential for repairing the skin barrier. They help repair cells that are damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet rays and assist in healing open wounds.
Olive Oil and Antioxidants
Olives are also rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are essential for preventing the growth of free radicals. Free radicals are precursors in the development of cancer, including melanoma and BCC.
When antioxidants enter the system, they help clear out dead cells that may cause inflammation. Furthermore, they help carry oxygenated red blood cells to areas that are damaged. Therefore, consuming antioxidant-rich olives can speed up the recovery process. The faster we heal, the less susceptible our system becomes to the growth of cancerous cells.
Oleuropein and Skin Health
One of the most unique benefits of consuming olives is that they are rich in a compound known as oleuropein. This plant-based compound acts as both an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
Research on oleuropein shows that this olive-based compound can reduce cell proliferation. It achieves this feat by promoting cell apoptosis, also known as “programmed cell death.” Essentially, oleuropein may destroy cancer cells.
Furthermore, it also prohibits free radicals from altering DNA forever. The same analysis on cell proliferation noted that oleuropein blocked the transition of G1 to S phase among cells. Therefore, harmful pathogens can’t encrypt, hijack, or destroy your genetic code.
How to Improve Your Life with the Mediterranean Diet
The best way to lower your chance of developing skin cancer is to be mindful of sun exposure and follow a Mediterranean diet. As many yo-yo dieters out there can attest, staying true to dietary changes can prove to be a bit difficult. Therefore, ease yourself into this new pace by making simple swaps on the plate. Some easy examples include:
- Turkey or chickpea tacos instead of beef tacos
- Grape leaf wrap instead of white bread
- Feta cheese instead of packages of shredded cheddar
- Olive oil and red wine vinegar instead of salad dressing
- Whole grain pasta instead of regular white pasta
If you’re concerned that meal swaps aren’t enough, there are some extra steps you can take to ensure optimum skin health. One of the easiest ways to improve your skin care regimen is by taking all-natural supplements such as Olive Leaf Extract.
Our Olive Leaf Extract has 20% oleuropein. Therefore, you get a high concentration of this beneficial mineral in a convenient vegan capsule. This supplement contains more milligrams of oleuropein per capsule than any other brand. So, if you’re looking to improve your longevity both inside and out, look no further than our Olive Leaf Extract.
What are your health and beauty go-to’s? Share your skincare secrets with our community in the comments below!