Scientists researching several diseases have been studying the effects of a Mediterranean diet on health. The most recent study results came from collecting the diet information from more than 17,000 men and women whose average age was 64.
Cognitive ability, which is our interest here, was one of several elements studied over a four-year period of time. The participants took tests that measured their memory and thinking skills.
Lead researcher Dr. Georgios Tsivgoulis, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham as well as the University of Athens, Greece, said that, "Greater adherence to Mediterranean diet was associated with lower risk of incident cognitive impairment in this large population-based study.”
A Mediterranean diet consists of olive oil, nuts, fish, tomatoes, poultry, cruciferous vegetables, fruit, and dark and green leafy vegetables. In general, low amounts of high fat dairy products, red meat, organ meats and butter are consumed.
Tsivgoulis also said that none of the evidence indicated racial or regional differences to the diet. Unfortunately, the diet didn’t help diabetics ward off mental decline, which led the researchers to wonder if the benefit of a Mediterranean diet differs in people with different diseases.
The study results showed that those who followed the Mediterranean diet were 19 percent less likely to develop thinking and memory problems. The only exception was with the 17 percent of the participants who had diabetes. Among these people, the researchers said, the Mediterranean diet didn't appear to prevent thinking and memory difficulties from developing. This report was published in the April 30 issue of the journal Neurology.
Dr. Sam Gandy, associate director of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in New York City adds that in addition to a Mediterranean diet, the best way to minimize Alzheimer’s disease is with 30-minute sessions three times a week of brisk walking or weight lifting and maximizing mental activity.
A previous study led by Y. Gu of the Taub Institute for Research in Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University in New York found that men and women who closely followed a dietary pattern that is similar to a Mediterranean diet were 38 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease during a 3.8 year follow-up.
Scientists agree that further research is needed to establish how the Mediterranean diet protects our mental status. That being said, how much evidence do we need before we make an effort to improve our diets? The combination of diet, exercise and staying mentally active seem to be our only weapons against Alzheimer’s disease at this time. These tools are within our reach if we have the discipline to use them.
Reinberg, S. (2013, April 29) Mediterranean Diet Might Help Stave Off Dementia: Large study showed better retention of mental skills in seniors who had followed it. Health Day. Retrieved from http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=675873
Liu, D. (2012, October 29) Dietary pattern identified to prevent Alzheimer's disease. Food Consumer.org. Retrieved from http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Nutrition/Diet/dietary_pattern_identified_to_prevent_alzheimer_s_1029120741.html
Published On: May 08, 2013