Does the Mediterranean Diet Protect the Brain?

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A Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of many health problems.

When most people think of the Mediterranean they envision beautiful beaches, shimmering water, and a more relaxed pace of life.

While they are not wrong, there is also rich agriculture and dining.

The fresh ingredients of the region make for delicious meals.

According to a recent Seasons article titled “Mediterranean diet may not reduce dementia risk after all, study claims,” these delicious foods may improve certain health metrics and reduce the rick of developing specific ailments.

A Mediterranean diet has numerous health benefits.
A Mediterranean diet is beneficial even if it does not reduce the risk of dementia.

Although studies have long found the Mediterranean diet improves brain, heart, bone, and immune system health, the specific benefits for Alzheimer’s and dementia are unclear.

The Neurology journal recently published findings on a 20-year study.

The study reviewed the health information of 28,000 Swedes.

At the start of the study, participants averaged 58 years of age and did not have dementia.

These individuals were instructed to complete daily food diaries, an interview, and a food frequency questionnaire.

What were the results?

Dementia or Alzheimer’s was diagnosed in 1,943 participants during the course of the research.

Of the 6.9 percent of participants with dementia or Alzheimer’s, no connection was found between the ailments and Mediterranean diet or conventional diet after adjustments were made for age, education level, and gender.

With the study occurring over two decades, the results may inadvertently have failed to address the emergence of co-occurring medical conditions or changes in lifestyle or dietary habits.

Although the study did not demonstrate a connection between a Mediterranean diet and reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia, other studies have demonstrated the benefit of the diet on cognitive health.

One former study focused on older adults who consumed a Mediterranean diet with the MIND diet.

Researchers in this study found up to a 53 percent reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease for some participants following these diets.

Another study published in 2021 followed participants for three years.

Some participants were asked to eat a Mediterranean diet for the duration of the study while the control group did not.

Those on the specified diet showed small to moderate improvements in certain cognitive domains compared to the control group.

Harvard published a study in 2022 connecting a green Mediterranean diet low in red meat to some protection of the brain from “attenuated age-related brain atrophy.”

Consuming the fruits, fish, healthy fats, legumes, potatoes, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains of the Mediterranean diet rather than high quantities of dairy products, fried foods, meats, saturated fats, and sugars improves many body systems.

The Mediterranean diet can control blood sugar and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, diabetes, heart attack, obesity, or stroke.

Adopting this diet can improve your quality and longevity of life overall, even though the jury yet may be out on its specific cognitive benefits.

As for me, regardless the science, eating “Mediterranean” just tastes better and leaves me feeling better.

Reference: Seasons (Nov. 6, 2022) “Mediterranean diet may not reduce dementia risk after all, study claims”

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