Latrobe University in conjunction with the Nutrition Society of Australia brought together the passionate and dynamic presenters Professor Kerin O’Dea, Associate Professor Antigone Kouris and Associate Professor Catherine Itsiopoulos.  Paired with a captive audience they ardently imparted their knowledge and research demonstrating the protective effects of the Mediterranean diet and the application of their years of research into clinical practice (A fascinating and pertinent topic, given the leading causes of death in Australia are from diet related diseases).

Fuelled by a burning desire to learn, trusty pen and notebook in hand I was excited to be hearing from three highly esteemed professionals. My personal highlights (there were many)…

From Professor O’Dea

-Historically the prevention of coronary heart disease has focused on one risk factor, moving forward we need to focus on what and how to eat

-Citing evidence from Ancel Keys’ Seven countries study, Professor O’Dea touched on the relationship between diet and the “pro inflammatory environment”

-This was compared to the PREDIMED study identifying the how diet can be beneficial for inflammatory conditions.

-The wisdom of Hippocrates ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’

Professor Kouris

-Highlighted the Greek migrant paradox and how retention of the protective components of the traditional Mediterranean diet can decrease cardiovascular disease risk.

-We were introduced to the wonderful world of gut microbiota, dysbiotic bacteria and the potential implications on disease risk.

-The incredible foresight of Hippocrates was again quoted “all disease begins in the gut”

-The role of fibre in the fermentation and the production of short chain fatty acids (butyric acid) mainly from the consumption of plants and legumes providing protective effects for the colon.

Professor Itsiopoulos.

-Addressed specific dietary practices including a high intake of antioxidants resulting from a high plant to animal ratio (4:1)

-The source of nutrients and source of food is also noteworthy.

-The food pattern and dietary practices that we can embed into patients diets include slow cooking meats, vegetables at every meal, extra virgin olive oil as the main source of fat and cleansing palates with fresh fruit.

Herein lies the foundation and the growing body of evidence supporting the application of the Cretan Mediterranean diet:

-An abundance and colorful array of plant foods (think leafy greens and tomatoes)

-Quality sourdough bread

-Fermented foods (White cheese e.g. Feta and Greek yoghurt)

-Dietary fat, predominantly from Extra Virgin Olive oil and Nuts


-Low amounts of meat and animal foods

-Add flavour to meals using an array of herbs and spices

-Fruit to cleanse your palate

-Red wine in moderation

As a future dietitian, I am excited about the application of the Mediterranean diet into clinical practice. With a robust glass of red wine in hand, I will continue to savour the feast of knowledge I have acquired, as my mind digests and absorbs the wholesome goodness of the Mediterranean diet.

– Jacinta Sherlock, 3rd year, Bachelor of Health Sciences/Master of Dietetic Practice, Latrobe University.

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