Studies link the Mediterranean diet to a reduced risk of dementia

Studies show a link between the Mediterranean diet and a reduced risk of developing dementia


Studies show a link between the Mediterranean diet and a reduced risk of developing dementia.

(CNN) — There is no cure or proven way to prevent dementia, which affects 55 million people worldwide, but a number of studies have suggested that following a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of developing the disease.

In a recent study published in the journal Monday, people who ate a Mediterranean diet — rich in seafood and plant-based foods — had a 23 percent lower risk of dementia than those who ate less. BMC Medicine International Research Group. In absolute terms, the study found that following a Mediterranean diet was equivalent to a 0.55% reduction in the risk of developing dementia.

The latest study involved 60,298 people who were part of the UK Biobank and were followed for just over nine years. During the study period, 882 cases of dementia were registered among the group. These people were aged between 40 and 69 and were white British or Irish. According to the researchers, how closely they followed the Mediterranean diet was assessed using two different questionnaires that have been widely used in previous studies of the diet.

“There is a lot of evidence that a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. But the evidence on specific diets is much less clear,” said Susan Mitchell, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK. He was not involved in the study.

“This new, larger study adds to this overall picture, but it only looked at people with white, British or Irish ancestry,” he said. “Based on its intriguing findings, more research is needed to determine whether these reported benefits also translate to minority communities where historically dementia is often misunderstood and highly stigmatized, and where awareness of how people can reduce their risk is low.”

There is currently no magic bullet to stop dementia, but eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, regular physical activity, and not smoking are all heart-healthy behaviors that can help protect the brain from dementia-related diseases.

What foods are included in the Mediterranean diet?

There is an impressive list of science behind the Mediterranean diet. This way of eating not only prevents cognitive decline, but also helps the heart, reduces diabetes, prevents bone loss, promotes weight loss, and more.

A study published March 8 found that people who ate a Mediterranean diet and followed the brain-focused MIND diet had fewer signs of Alzheimer’s disease — sticky beta-amyloid plaques and plaques in the brain — at autopsy. Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia. MIND Diet, short for Mediterranean-DASH Diet Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.

The Mediterranean diet focuses on plant-based cooking. Most of each meal should contain fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, and a few nuts. A lot of attention is paid to extra virgin olive oil. Butter and other fats are rarely consumed. Sweets and goods made from refined sugar or flour are rare.

Meat may rarely be seen, but usually only to add flavor to the dish. Instead, the diet may include eggs, milk and poultry, but in much smaller portions than in the traditional Western diet. However, fish is a staple, full of brain-boosting omega-3s.

Study participants who were closest to dieting were more likely to be female, have a body mass index in the healthy range, have higher levels of education, and be more physically active than non-dieters.

David Curtis, emeritus professor at UCL’s Institute of Genetics in London, who was not involved in the research, noted that the latest study was observational and did not establish cause and effect. This result can indicate a generally healthy lifestyle, he said.

“It’s not clear that this diet alone reduces the risk of dementia, although it may. It’s important to note that the study looked at all types of dementia, not Alzheimer’s disease. I think that if there is an effect of diet, it will affect cardiovascular health in general, and therefore dementia related to vascular disease rather than Alzheimer’s disease.”

The Mediterranean diet has a social component

Dwayne Mellor, registered dietitian and senior lecturer at Aston University in Birmingham, UK, said the benefits of the Mediterranean diet are not limited to the nutrients provided by food.

“The Mediterranean way of eating is not just about the food on the plate, it’s about the social interactions around food, and people who are more social have a lower risk of dementia and other conditions,” said Mellor, who was not involved in the study. statement.

“We need to look at how we can adapt the Mediterranean-style diet to what is available and eaten in the UK, so that inclusive messages about healthy eating can be created that include the importance of sharing food with others and the social aspects of eating. »

The study hypothesized that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a reduced risk of dementia, even if a person had a genetic risk for the disease.

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