Mediterranean diet linked to a lower risk of dementia, study confirms

Credit: Abillion / Unsplash

The Mediterranean diet is a dietary pattern inspired by the traditional eating habits of people living in Mediterranean countries such as Greece, Italy, and Spain.

It is characterized by high consumption of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, as well as olive oil as the main source of fat.

Fish and seafood are also consumed regularly, along with moderate amounts of dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, and low to moderate amounts of poultry and eggs.

Red meat is consumed in small amounts, and wine is consumed in moderation with meals.

The Mediterranean diet has been associated with a range of health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, as well as improved cognitive function and a lower risk of dementia.

A new study at Newcastle University has shed light on the potential benefits of a traditional Mediterranean-type diet in reducing the risk of dementia.

Researchers found that people who followed a diet rich in foods such as seafood, fruit, and nuts had up to a 23% lower risk of developing dementia than those who did not.

What makes this research particularly noteworthy is that it is one of the largest studies of its kind, with data collected from over 60,000 individuals from the UK Biobank.

UK Biobank is a large cohort including people from all across the UK who had completed a dietary assessment.

The team found that even for people with a higher genetic risk of developing dementia, adhering to a Mediterranean diet could help reduce their risk of developing the condition.

The authors of the study considered each person’s genetic risk for dementia by estimating their polygenic risk, a measure of all the different genes that are related to the risk of dementia.

They found that there was no strong interaction between the polygenic risk for dementia and the associations between Mediterranean diet adherence.

This means that a better diet could reduce the likelihood of developing the condition even for those with a higher genetic risk.

The team says dementia impacts the lives of millions of individuals throughout the world, and there are currently limited options for treating this condition.

Finding ways to reduce our risk of developing dementia is, therefore, a major priority for researchers and clinicians.

This study suggests that eating a more Mediterranean-like diet could be one strategy to help individuals lower their risk of dementia.

The good news from this study is that even for those with higher genetic risk, having a better diet reduced the likelihood of developing dementia.

Although more research is needed in this area, this strengthens the public health message that we can all help to reduce our risk of dementia by eating a more Mediterranean-like diet.

However, the authors caution that their analysis is limited to people who self-reported their ethnic background as white, British or Irish, as genetic data was only available based on European ancestry.

They suggest that further research is needed in a range of populations to determine the potential benefits of a Mediterranean diet in reducing dementia risk.

In conclusion, the findings of this study suggest that a Mediterranean diet that includes a high intake of healthy plant-based foods may be an important intervention to incorporate into future strategies to reduce dementia risk.

The team notes that future dementia prevention efforts could go beyond generic healthy diet advice and focus on supporting people to increase their consumption of specific foods and nutrients that are essential for brain health.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about a new hidden cause of dementia, and flavonoid-rich foods could help prevent dementia.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that cranberries could help boost memory, and strawberries could help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

The study was conducted by Dr. Oliver Shannon et al and published in BMC Medicine.

Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.