New Study Looks Into How The Mediterranean Diet Impacts Stress

The monkeys in this research fared far better at dealing with stress when they were eating a Mediterranean diet. Namely, they weren’t as affected by stressors, and afterwards, they recovered faster than those on a Western diet.

“Our study showed that the Mediterranean diet shifted the balance toward the parasympathetic nervous system, which is good for health,” notes professor and study co-author, Carol Shively, Ph.D. in a news release. “By contrast, the Western diet increased the sympathetic response to stress, which is like having the panic button on all the time—and that isn’t healthy.”

Additionally, the study authors note those monkeys eating a Mediterranean diet exhibited slowed aging of the sympathetic nervous system compared to those eating a Western diet.

Doing this research on monkeys as opposed to humans made it possible to study the mental health effects of the diet over long periods of time. It also made it easier to regulate what the subjects were eating. Of course, the findings can’t be directly applied to humans, but Shively says that they could still have “significant implications for human health.”

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