Does the Mediterranean diet really reduce your dementia risk?

Credit: Christine Isakzhanova/ Unsplash

Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning — thinking, remembering, and reasoning — to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.

Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions, and their personalities may change.

Many studies have suggested that eating a healthy diet may reduce the risk of dementia.

But in a study from Lund University in Sweden, scientists found that two diets, including the Mediterranean diet, are not linked to a lower risk of dementia.

The Mediterranean diet focuses on a high intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits, fish and healthy fats such as olive oil, and a low intake of dairy products, meats and saturated fats.

In the study, researchers identified 28,000 people from Sweden. Participants had an average age of 58 and did not have dementia at the start of the study.

They were followed over a 20-year period. During the study, participants filled out a seven-day food diary, and a detailed food frequency questionnaire and completed an interview.

By the end of the study, 1,943 people, or 6.9%, were diagnosed with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

The researchers examined how closely participants’ diets aligned with conventional dietary recommendations and the Mediterranean diet.

After adjusting for age, gender, and education, researchers did not find a link between following either a conventional diet or the Mediterranean diet and a reduced risk of dementia.

The team says although this study does not rule out a possible association between diet and dementia, we did not find a link in our study, which had a long follow-up period.

Further research is needed to confirm the findings.

Other researchers suggest that diet on its own may not have a strong enough effect on memory and thinking but is likely one factor among others that influence the course of cognitive function.

Dietary strategies will still potentially be needed along with other measures to control risk factors.

f you care about dementia, please read studies about new drugs for incurable vascular dementia, and these things may have the biggest impact on your dementia risk.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and Vitamin D deficiency linked to higher dementia risk.

The study was conducted by Isabelle Glans et al and published in Neurology.

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