Research: “Weapon” against dementia the Mediterranean diet

Meals consumed in the sunny Mediterranean have been linked to stronger bones, healthier hearts and increased life expectancy, and reduced risk for diabetes and high blood pressure.

Now you can add to the ever-expanding list of reasons why you should follow the Mediterranean diet and reduce the risk of dementia.

A new study, presented at the International Association of Alzheimer’s in London, states that the elderly following the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of developing dementia by one-third.

“Nutrition based on the consumption of plant products has been associated with a better cognitive function and a reduction in the risk of cognitive impairment, during aging, from 30% to 35%,” said Claire McEvoy, Department of Medicine, University of the California, in San Francisco.

McEvoy stressed that because the study was conducted in a nationally representative sample of the older population, “findings are important for the general population as well”. “The activity of our genes depends to a large extent on four main factors: nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management,” said Rudolph Tanzi, one of the scientists involved in the research. “Maybe diet is the most important of these factors.”

McEvoy’s study investigated the dietary habits of about 6,000 elderly US residents, with an average age of 68 years. Taking into account age, gender, race, educational level, lifestyle and health problems – such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression, smoking and physical inactivity – the researchers found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet, had a 30-35% lower risk of cognitive impairment.

The more people have had these eating habits, the better cognition they have shown, McEvoy said. While he continued by saying that even those who were not fully committed to the Mediterranean diet showed benefits, but to a much lesser extent and showed less chance of cognitive decline symptoms, by 18%.

What’s the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet is simple, with the food consumed during each meal being mainly fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and grains, with a great emphasis on virgin olive oil. Anyone who intends to follow this diet must bid farewell to processed sugar and flour as well as bad fats like butter. Meat is not an essential ingredient in the diet and, instead, it is the consumption of eggs, dairy products and poultry, but in quite limited quantities. The fish, however, is in a prominent position.

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