A Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of dementia

It’s no secret that your diet plays a huge role in your health. It doesn’t matter if you’re training for a marathon or just want to focus more on your workday, eating right should start. As it turns out, it can play a big role in brain health even in old age.

A new observational study was published in the journal Monday BMC Medicine It found that eating a traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in foods like seafood, whole grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits, was associated with a reduced risk of dementia in some people. Study participants who ate more of the Mediterranean diet had about a 23 percent lower risk of neurodegenerative disorders than those who ate less.

The article echoes previous studies that have boosted the appeal of the Mediterranean diet and its health benefits, including one last year that found US adults could increase their life expectancy by more than 10 years if they switched to such a diet. Dieting can mean that it’s a relatively easy and affordable way to make lifestyle changes that can have huge health benefits.

“Although there are no clear ways to prevent dementia, a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, along with plenty of exercise and not smoking, can promote heart health, which in turn helps protect our brain from disease. to dementia,” said Susan Mitchell, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, who was not involved in the study.

The study analyzed data collected from more than 60,000 people from the UK Biobank (a large, long-term health data collection of more than 500,000 participants) who completed a dietary assessment. The researchers then used this information to assign each participant a Mediterranean Diet Score (MEDAS). After accounting for genetic risk factors for dementia, they found that participants who followed the Mediterranean diet the most had a 23 percent lower risk of dementia than those with the lowest MEDAS scores.

However, there are a few important things to keep in mind in this study. First, it only analyzed data from people of white British and Irish descent. This is a pretty big blind spot in the study and means you should take any results with a grain of salt (but not too much salt for heart health reasons).

“Based on these interesting findings, further research is needed to determine if these reported benefits translate to minority communities where historically dementia is often misunderstood and highly stigmatized and where people are less knowledgeable about how to reduce their risk,” Mitchell said. added.

It also does not take into account possible lifestyle factors. For example, those who follow a healthy Mediterranean diet may also be those who exercise frequently, thereby reducing their overall risk of dementia.

In addition, the study also fails to implicate “intrinsic aspects of the Mediterranean diet, including social eating,” said Duane Mellor, senior lecturer at Aston Medical School, University of Aston, who was not involved in the study. statement. “[The] Mediterranean cuisine is more than just the food on the plate. It’s about social interactions around food, and people who socialize more have a lower risk of dementia and other conditions.”

While more research can and should be done to investigate what potential benefits this diet might offer to prevent or reduce the risk of dementia, it might not be a bad idea to start incorporating a little more of the Mediterranean diet. daily eating habits. At the very least, eating less of the Western diet, which is high in saturated fat, sugar, and sodium, is good for your heart and mind.