More Evidence that a Healthy Diet Fights Alzheimer's

Craig Stoltz Health Guide
  • A new report in the journal Neurology extends previous research into the benefits of a so-called Mediterranean Diet to Alzheimer's disease. Let's look in the fridge.


    Bottom line first


    published study suggests that a Mediterranean-style diet--high in fruits, vegetable, grains, beans, nuts, and fish; some cheese and yogurt; few meats and poultry; olive oil as the main source of fats; and wine with dinner--can extend the life of Alzheimer's patients. Previous research has suggested a similar diet can reduce risk of getting the disease in the first place.


    This study in 50 words or less

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    Researchers divided a group of Alzheimer's patients into three sub-groups, based on how closely their diets conformed to the Mediterranean model. The middle group lived 1.3 years longer than the lowest group. The most-Meditteranean-like group lived 3.9 years longer.


    Yes, but. . .


    • The study did not measure quality of life or speed of disease progress, just mortality.
    • This was not a clinical trail, in which patients are randomized and assigned to follow a specific diet. This study followed people who were eating this diet by choice, so other unaccounted-for lifestyle factors linked to that diet may explain some apparent benefits.
    • One alternative explanation may be that fewer people died because the diet slowed progression of heart disease, not Alzheimer's. Previous research has linked the Mediterranean diet to reduced risk of heart disease.
    • Diet information was acquired every year during a study lasting an average of four and a half years per patient. That's less reliable than a study collecting data more frequently. 

    So what are you going to do about it?


    Since a Mediterranean-style diet has been linked in other studies to longer life and reduced risk of heart disease, it can be a good diet for anyone to follow.


    But it's not known precisely which elements of the diet are healthful.


    The Mediterranean diet is very similar to the diet recommened for good health by many American authorities: high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains; modest amounts of meat and dairy; regular servings of fish;  monosaturated fat (olive oil) the main source of dietary fat. Follow that diet and you're very close to the one studied here.


    Learn more


    Read these excellent SharePosts by Alzheimer's caregiver Dorian Martin and eldercare columnist Carol Bradley Bursack.


    Our site has plenty of resources on treating treating and managing Alzheimer's disease.


    Learn more about a "brain-healthy" diet at the Alzheimer's Association website.






Published On: September 14, 2007