Frequently asked questions

These are the most frequently asked questions about a MediterrAsian diet and lifestyle.

What exactly is a MediterrAsian diet?

A MediterrAsian diet combines the best elements of the world’s healthiest diets, the Mediterranean diet and Asian diet. It brings together a wide variety of very nutritious yet delicious foods, and naturally includes very little of the highly processed foods that dominate modern Western diets. According to a growing number of health experts, a MediterrAsian diet is the optimal way to eat for health and longevity.

Are there similarities between the Mediterranean diet and Asian diet?

Cooking techniques and seasonings differ, but research has found that the traditional dietary practices of Mediterranean and Asian cultures actually share many similarities. Their diets include abundant amounts of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and nuts; they consume fish regularly but red meat in small amounts; most of the fat they consume comes from plant and fish oils; and they generally consume alcohol in moderation, usually with meals. And it’s these shared dietary patterns — rich in antioxidants, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory compounds — that scientists believe is the main reason people from Mediterranean and Asian cultures also share the same good health and long lives.

What differences are there between the Mediterranean diet and Asian diet?

There are a number of very beneficial foods that are consumed in the Mediterranean region that aren’t traditionally consumed in Asia — such as olive oil and red wine. There are also a number of health-giving foods common in Asian diets that aren’t traditionally part of a Mediterranean diet — such as seaweed, green tea and soyfoods. So, by combining traditional Mediterranean and Asian eating practices you literally get the best of both worlds.

What specific health benefits does a MediterrAsian diet offer?

Traditional Mediterranean and Asian diets are rich in natural plant compounds called polyphenols. Consuming these polyphenol-rich foods — including extra virgin olive oil, turmeric, capers, green tea and red wine — activates a family of housekeeping genes in the body called sirtuins. Scientific research has found that sirtuins play a fundamental role in slowing cellular ageing and repairing DNA. Activating sirtuins also helps the body better regulate blood sugar levels, makes cells more resilient to stress, and improves the body’s ability to burn fat for energy.

German scientists from the University of Kiel found that a polyphenol-rich MediterrAsian diet activated sirtuins in a very similar way to severe calorie restriction (which also activates sirtuins), but without having to restrict calories. Their groundbreaking research was published in the scientific journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity in 2013. They wrote, “We suggest that a so-called ‘MediterrAsian’ diet combining sirtuin-activating foods (= sirtfoods) of the Asian as well as Mediterranean diet may be a promising dietary strategy in preventing chronic diseases, thereby ensuring health and healthy ageing.”

But high sirtfood consumption isn’t the only reason people from Mediterranean and Asian cultures traditionally enjoy such exceptional health and long lifespans. Unlike modern Western diets that are full of highly processed foods, a MediterrAsian diet is based on a foundation of minimally processed foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, olive oil, and fish. These foods are overflowing with health-promoting compounds including omega-3 fatty acids, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and also dietary fiber — which is great for gut health and is also one of nature’s best appetite suppressants.

Is diet the only reason people from Mediterranean and Asian cultures traditionally enjoy such low rates of chronic disease and long life expectancy?

While diet seems to play the most important role, people from Mediterranean and Asian cultures also share other lifestyle habits that are linked to better health and a longer life. For example, moderate physical activity is a part of their everyday lives, they typically set time aside each day to relax and unwind, and social ties are strong — including gathering around the table and celebrating meals together.

Could genetics be the reason why people from Mediterranean and Asian cultures are so healthy?

Studies have shown time and time again that Mediterranean and Asian peoples who adopt a typical Western diet and lifestyle substantially increase their risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease and certain cancers. Many other studies have shown that when Westerners adopt a Mediterranean or Asian diet and lifestyle their health improves and their chronic disease risk substantially decreases. This demonstrates that the good health traditionally enjoyed by Mediterranean and Asian peoples has very little to do with genetics and a lot to do with what they eat and how they live.

How does a MediterrAsian way of eating help me lose weight?

The foundation of traditional Mediterranean and Asian meals is typically plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans. These foods are bulky and filling but are generally low to moderate in calories. Fish and shellfish, which are also traditional Mediterranean and Asian staples, are also quite low in calories and are a good source of hunger-suppressing protein. So, these foods fill you up long before they fill you out. They also more than counter-balance the higher calorie foods that are also part of a MediterrAsian way of eating — such as nuts, olive oil and cheese. This means that by eating the MediterrAsian way you end up feeling comfortably full after a meal, without consuming more calories than your body needs.

Have the recipes and information you share been of benefit to others?

We’ve received hundreds of emails from people all over the world who’ve told us how the recipes and information we share has made a difference to their lives. For some it's been simple differences — like finally being able to get their kids to eat vegetables and actually enjoy them; or being able to regularly put a healthy and satisfying dinner on the table without having to slave away in the kitchen for hours.

For others the differences have been more profound. We've heard from people with high cholesterol who were able to bring their cholesterol levels into a healthy range within only a few months. We've heard from diabetics and those with high blood pressure who no longer need to take medication. We've also heard from people who've lost significant amounts of weight without ever feeling deprived, and from those who've said they've never felt better or had more energy in their lives. These success stories aren’t just incredibly heartwarming to us, they also confirm that traditional Mediterranean and Asian eating practices really are the healthiest and most enjoyable in the world.

How do you come up with so many recipes?

Eating this way has introduced us to a world of wonderful new tastes and experiences. Over the years, through trial and error, we've also learned a lot about authentic Mediterranean and Asian ingredients and cooking techniques. So, some of the recipes are our versions of classic Mediterranean and Asian dishes like risotto and sushi. But we also love to spend time in the kitchen experimenting and developing new recipes using traditional Mediterranean and Asian ingredients.