Mediterranean Diet found to slash risk of dementia by 35%

A recent study carried out by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco revealed that following a Mediterranean-style diet may mitigate the risk of developing dementia. The Mediterranean diet, which includes mostly oily fish, vegetables and nuts, has long been touted as a highly effective diet scheme against a plethora of diseases.

As part of the study, the research team examined nearly 6,000 people and found that participants who adopted a Mediterranean diet had 35 percent lower odds of performing badly on cognitive tests. The research team also found that the benefits of Mediterranean diet remained consistent after taking the participants’ smoking habits, physical activity, and socioeconomic status into account. In addition, study co-author Claire McEvoy noted that even moderate adherence to the dietary pattern appeared to offer protective effects against cognitive decline.

According to Dr. Maria Carrillo, chief science officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, the findings demonstrate that cognitive decline can be prevented if people remain adherent to diets that were low in saturated fats, low in processed flour and processed sugar.

The findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Other studies support Mediterranean diet’s efficacy against cognitive decline

Previous studies have long established that following a Mediterranean diet may help prevent the onset of cognitive decline. For instance, a study conducted by Columbia University researchers revealed that people who had poor nutrition had an increased risk of brain shrinkage. To carry out the study, the research team assessed more than 7,000 participants and found that those who followed the healthy diet had lower odds of developing dementia.

“There may be lifestyle factors that are within our power to change that help support healthy ageing. This observational research highlights the role of healthy eating habits in helping to protect our brains as we get older, with many focusing on Mediterranean-style diets. A Mediterranean-style diet is one low in meat and dairy but rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, beans, nuts and ‘healthy’ fats like olive oil. This research builds on growing evidence suggesting that following a Mediterranean style diet may hold valuable health benefits as we enter our later years,” Dr. David Reynolds, chief scientific officer at Alzheimer’s Research U.K., said in an article posted on The Daily Mail website.

Aside from this, a large-scale analysis also demonstrated that the heart-healthy diet may help keep cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease at bay. As part of the research, a team of health experts from the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, pooled data from 135 studies and chose 18 that met their criteria. (Related: Mediterranean Diet Cuts Risk of Alzheimer’s, Dementia.)

The research team assessed the participant’s diet adherence and cognitive function through a number of tests. The analysis revealed that participants who had greater adherence to Mediterranean diet exhibited less cognitive decline and instead displayed marked improvements in cognitive function compared with those who had lower diet adherence. Patients with greater diet adherence were also less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those with lower adherence. The researchers also noted that the diet scheme helped improve a large number of risk factors associated with cognitive decline.

“These include reducing inflammatory responses, increasing micronutrients, improving vitamin and mineral imbalances, changing lipid profiles by using olive oils as the main source of dietary fats, maintaining weight and potentially reducing obesity, improving polyphenols in the blood, improving cellular energy metabolism and maybe changing the gut microbiota, although this has not been examined to a larger extent yet,” lead author Roy Hardman explained in an article on the Medical News Today website.

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