A Dietary Weapon to Fight Dementia

Experts at Newcastle University found that people who ate a Mediterranean-style diet had a 23% lower risk of developing dementia than those who did not.

This study has been published BMC Medicineis one of the largest studies of its kind, as previous studies have generally been limited by small sample sizes and small numbers of dementia cases.


The researchers analyzed data from 60,298 people from the UK Biobank, a large cohort of people from across the UK who completed a dietary assessment.

The authors ranked individuals based on how closely their diet conformed to key Mediterranean characteristics. The participants were followed for nearly ten years, during which time there were 882 cases of dementia.

The authors looked at each person’s genetic risk for dementia by estimating what’s called their polygenic risk — a measure of all the different genes associated with dementia risk.

Dr Oliver Shannon, lecturer in human nutrition and aging at Newcastle University, led the research with Professor Emma Stevenson and co-senior author Professor David Llewellyn.

The study also involved experts from the Universities of Edinburgh, UEA and Exeter and was part of the Medical Research Council-funded NuBrain consortium.

Can dementia be cured?

Dr Shannon said: “Dementia affects the lives of millions of people worldwide and there are currently limited treatment options for the condition.

“Finding ways to reduce the risk of developing dementia is therefore a top priority for researchers and clinicians.

The Mediterranean Diet: The Best Diet to Prevent Dementia?

“Our study suggests that eating a Mediterranean-like diet may be one strategy to help people reduce their risk of dementia.”

The authors found no significant interaction between the association between polygenic risk of dementia and adherence to the Mediterranean diet. They say this may indicate that even for people at high genetic risk, a good diet can reduce the likelihood of developing the condition.

This finding was not consistent across all analyses, and the authors say further studies are needed to assess the interaction of diet and genetics on dementia risk.

John Mathers, Professor of Human Nutrition at Newcastle University, said: “The good news from this study is that good nutrition can reduce the likelihood of developing dementia, even for people at high genetic risk.

“Although more research is needed in this area, this reinforces the public health message that we can help reduce the risk of dementia by eating a Mediterranean-like diet.”

The authors caution that their analysis is limited to people who only reported ethnicity as white, British or Irish, as the genetic data are based on European ancestry only, and further studies are needed in a range of populations to determine potential. profit.

Brain-healthy foods to prevent dementia

Based on their data, they concluded that a Mediterranean diet high in healthy plant-based foods may be an important intervention to incorporate into future strategies to reduce dementia risk.

Dr Janice Ranson, of the University of Exeter, lead author of the paper, said: “The results of this large population-based study show long-term brain health benefits of consuming a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit. vegetables, grains and healthy fats.

“The protective effect of this diet against dementia was evident regardless of a person’s genetic risk, so it may be a beneficial lifestyle choice for people trying to make healthy eating choices and reduce their risk of dementia.

“Future dementia prevention interventions may go beyond general healthy eating advice and focus on supporting people to increase their intake of specific foods and nutrients important for brain health.”

Source: Eurekalert