The origin and history of the mediterranean diet

January 11, 2011

diet-and-cancerThe name of the famous and healthy Mediterranean diet, Med Diet, comes from two words that we will analyze so that we will all have a better relation and understanding of the diet we adopted and will follow.

Mediterranean: is the name of the sea that is between Europe, Asia and Africa with one natural entry from the Atlantic Ocean on the West and a manmade exit on the East towards the Red Sea. The name of the sea historically goes to the Latin’s, as in the middle of the 3rd century Solinos, was the first one to name the sea «Mare Mediterraneum» meaning the sea in-between two continents and thus becoming the sponsor or the patron of the name. (Note that ‘’Mare’’ means the sea in Latin).


It is in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean that we see the establishment of the Mediterranean diet. It is in this region that the Olive trees grew in abundance, fruits were in season during the four seasons due to the mild climate and fish was part of the diet and fishing an occupation by most. In addition the Mediterranean herbs were not only used for cooking but were used for Medicinal purposes as well thus saving peoples’ lives.

It was also in the Mediterranean Sea that most of the ancient civilizations flourished and from the Mediterranean Sea that great Empires like the Roman Empire have originated.

Diet: Our relation and commitment to the Mediterranean diet can become even stronger if we clarify meaning of the word ‘’diet’’. Normally the word ‘’diet’’ carries something negative around it and it is associated with limited food, resulting from a pathological state that one gets into or from excessive increase of fat or undesired mass in the body. This however is not the case for the Mediterranean diet because if we look at the origin of the word ‘’diet’’ we find that it originates from the Greek word ‘’diaita’’ meaning way of life, way of living.


So the ancient Greek word for ‘’diet’’, Diaita, meant ‘’way of living’’ in general and was neither referring nor restricted to the dietary needs and habits of people. Instead it had to do with the whole spectrum of our life: work, sleep, companions, social environment, activities and place of living.

‘’Diaita’’ in ancient Greece literally meant the way of living. This way of living was dictated off course for the Greeks by God Dias, Zeus, thus the word has its roots, since he, Dias, was the one who dictated and created the conditions from which residence, work, food, sleep and clothing were governed.


So when we follow the Mediterranean diet we accept to follow a healthy way of living that would not necessary result to a loss of weight but it would definitely dictate a way of living that will put us in the right path/track of a long term healthy outcome.

The Mediterranean diet exists for many centuries and one can argue that it is the oldest diet in the world having a life of more than three thousand years. However the Mediterranean diet and way of living for the Western world and specifically for the US people was rediscovered by, and is credited to, the nutritionist Ancel Keys. This was a sensational discovery that has led American scientists to set up in the late 60s a widespread program of preventive medicine on the studies conducted by Keys, thus we have the birth and spread of the Mediterranean Diet.

Andrea Aurelio
About the author

Andrea Aurelio adopted the Mediterranean diet and the Mediterranean way of living after evaluating a series of diets and realizing that the Mediterranean diet is a proven diet and the best way to adopt a healthy lifestyle. You can connect with him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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