Firefighters and the Mediterranean diet: an unexpected alliance for a healthy life
A recent groundbreaking study in the United States demonstrated how the Mediterranean diet can change lives and have an important role in an unexpected community – the one of firefighters.
The results of this study not only showed significant improvements in dietary habits among firefighters, but also continue to show that the Mediterranean diet is a great ally in the fight against cardiovascular disease and cancer risks. Read below to find out all about this study, as well as what the results could mean for your everyday life.
Why did firefighters adopt the Mediterranean diet?
In the United States, on-duty sudden cardiac death is the leading cause of firefighter mortality. This is due to the prevalence of heart disease in this profession, as well as the increased level of stress. Furthermore, almost 40% of firefighters face obesity and an increased risk of cancer.
In the United States, firefighters spend almost a third of their daily life at the station. Living in a close-knit community, they will shop together, share meals and follow similar diets. Thus, a station-wide lifestyle change is needed to reduce these problems.
What did this study consist of?
Many studies support the benefits of the Mediterranean diet in the fight against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Therefore, this recent study aimed to promote the Mediterranean diet on a fire station level to demonstrate possible benefits on a large scale.
Thus, the fire departments involved in the study were divided into two categories – those who followed the Mediterranean diet for 12 months, and those who didn’t.
To see how much the community helped with diet and lifestyle changes, the first group was monitored based on various factors such as:
- Consumption levels of foods such of fast food, fruits, vegetables, desserts, fried foods, fish, alcohol, wine, legumes, nuts, cooking oil and bread
- Adherence to a healthy sleep schedule of 8 hours a day
- Proper hydration
What were the results?
Firefighters who followed the Mediterranean diet showed a significant improvement in eating habits after 12 months. Those in the first study group consumed significantly less alcohol and fast food, increased their intake of fish and nuts, and improved their consumption of bread and starch.
Those who followed this extraordinary diet had an average decrease of 0.79% in body fat, as well as a decrease of -6.92 mg/dL in LDL cholesterol levels.
One of the study’s authors, Mercedes Sotos-Prieto, PhD, noted that
“Although the 12-month improvement is not very large, it can be sustained over time because the Mediterranean diet is not calorie-restricted, nor does it require the elimination of certain types of food. Over time, there can be a beneficial impact.”
How does this study demonstrate the benefits of the Mediterranean diet?
In addition to the obvious health benefits of the body, the results of the study also show that the Mediterranean diet is sustainable over time. It can be a solution even in communities like the firefighting community, where a stricter diet is needed due to major physical exertion. If it’s a good solution for them, we can imagine what beneficial effects it could have on the wider population.
This study not only highlights the power of dietary interventions, but also emphasizes the importance of tailoring health initiatives to the unique needs and habits of specific populations. Dahna makes this customization possible through our app, the only one of its kind in Romania – after configuring a cardiometabolic profile, the application generates menus based on the Mediterranean diet and customized according to your personal needs. Dahna will be your main ally in the fight against cardiovascular diseases and a faithful companion on your journey to healthy life.