Mediterranean diet may prevent memory loss and dementia, study finds

Meals inspired by traditional foods from the sunny Mediterranean, a new study found, may lower your risk for dementia by interfering with the buildup of two proteins, amyloid and tau, into the plaques and tangles that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

The mountain of evidence continues to build that you are what you eat when it comes to brain health,” said Dr. Richard Isaacson, who directs the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

In this important study, researchers showed that it’s possible to not only improve cognitive function — most specifically memory — but also reduce risk for Alzheimer’s disease pathology,” said Isaacson, who was not involved in the study.

For every point of higher compliance with the diet, people had one extra year less of brain aging. That is striking,” Isaacson added. “Most people are unaware that it’s possible to take control of your brain health, yet this study shows us just that.”

What is the Mediterranean diet?

Ingredients used includes:
Broccoli, Olive Oil, Quinoa, Blueberries, Nuts, Salmon, Beans, Eggs, Spinach, Walnut, Asparagus

The true diet is simple, plant-based cooking, with the majority of each meal focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, with a few nuts and a heavy emphasis on extra-virgin olive oil. Fats other than olive oil, such as butter, are consumed rarely, if at all. And say goodbye to refined sugar or flour.

Meat can make a rare appearance, but usually only to flavor a dish. Instead, meals may include eggs, dairy and poultry, but in much smaller portions than in the traditional Western diet. However, fish, which are full of brain-boosting omega-3’s, are a staple.

Brain scans and spinal fluid

The study, published Wednesday in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, examined 343 people at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s and compared them to 169 cognitively normal subjects.

In addition, for each point a person lost on failing to follow the Mediterranean diet, brain scans revealed one additional year of brain aging in areas associated Alzheimer’s, such as the hippocampus.

These results add to the body of evidence that show what you eat may influence your memory skills later on,” said study author Tommaso Ballarini, a postdoctoral fellow at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn, Germany, in a statement. “One unanswered question remains: Why exactly does the Mediterranean diet protect against Alzheimer’s?” said Isaacson, who is also a trustee of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation.

While further studies are needed, it’s likely that a combination of factors are working “synergistically together,” he added, “such as reducing inflammation, increasing protective antioxidants, and supplying the brain with brain-healthy fats from fish high in omega-3s — like wild salmon — as well as monounsaturated fats from extra-virgin olive oil.”

A growing connection

This isn’t the first research to find a link between brain health and the Mediterranean diet or one of its plant-based cousins.A study of nearly 6,000 healthy older Americans with an average age of 68 found those who followed the Mediterranean or the similar MIND diet lowered their risk of dementia by a third.

Short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, MIND focuses on eating at least six servings a week of green leafy vegetables such as spinach or kale, and at least one serving a day of another vegetable.

Eating a healthy plant-based diet is associated with better cognitive function and around 30% to 35% lower risk of cognitive impairment during aging,” lead author Claire McEvoy, assistant professor at Queen’s University Belfast, told CNN when the study published.

“In this study, while the Mediterranean diet overall decreased risk, the strongest factor to really move the needle was regular fish consumption,” Isaacson said. The more people stayed on those diets, McEvoy said, the better they functioned cognitively. Those who marginally followed the diet also benefited, but by a much smaller margin. These study participants were 18% less likely to exhibit signs of cognitive impairment.

How to start the Mediterranean diet

Experts say the easiest way to start is to replace one thing at a time. For example, replace refined grains with whole grains by choosing whole wheat bread and pasta and swapping white rice with brown or wild rice.

  • Cook one meal each week based on beans, whole grains and vegetables, using herbs and spices to add punch. No meat allowed.
  • When one night a week is a breeze, add two, and build your nonmeat meals from there.
  • On the Mediterranean diet, cheese and yogurt show up daily to weekly, in moderate portions; chicken and eggs are OK on occasion, but the use of other meats and sweets is very limited.
  • When you eat meat, have small amounts. For a main course, that means no more than 3 ounces of chicken or lean meat. Better yet: Use small pieces of chicken or slices of lean meat to flavor a veggie-based meal, such as a stir-fry.
  • Fish is king in the Mediterranean diet, and is eaten at least twice a week. “Fatty fish like wild salmon, sardines, albacore tuna, lake trout and mackerel are loaded with brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which nourish the brain cells,” Isaacson said.
  • Focus on fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. Add whole grains and fruit to every meal, but use nuts and seeds as a garnish or small snack due to their high calorie and fat content.

Eat a lot of veggies and use all kinds and colors to get the broadest range of nutrients, phytochemicals and fiber. Cook, roast or garnish them with herbs and a bit of extra-virgin olive oil.If fish is the king, olive oil is the queen in the Mediterranean diet — stay away from coconut and palm oil, experts say. Even though they are plant-based, those oils are high in saturated fats that will raise bad cholesterol.

Adopting the fare of the sunny region will also help with healthy weight loss, while reducing the risk for diabetes,depression,high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Easing into the Mediterranean diet means all those benefits and a healthier mind.

Weblink (Article by Sandee LaMotte)

Published by RenSun Lee

Kia ora! Sustainability is at the core of my soul ever since I was a kid. I always strive to finish the food on my plate and live as a minimalist. I love to cut down on waste in order to live sustainably and harmoniously with our planet. This brings me to my passion as a Food Scientist to integrate new technologies into innovative and creative solutions to meet customer demands and market trends and to optimize products and processes for quality, savings and sustainability. To these goals, I have published a Journal on my work on sustainable packaging and patented a new Antimicrobial wash. Nothing is more satisfying than working hard and smart at the workplace and playing hard outside of working hours. I enjoy rejuvenating myself through spending quality time with my two adorable kids and my awesome soul mate and getting close to nature when possible, be it gardening, tramping or going to the beach. I also love to learn about our magnificent universe and how sustainability is working in the grand scheme of things. I strongly believe that Work, Life & Balance is the key to a healthy state of mind, both physically and mentally. I look forward to making a positive difference wherever and whenever I can. Through this Blog, I hope to catalog recent Food Trends and Food Technologies that I come across so that anyone who is interested can have access to it (articles and resources). Please use these resources at your discretion. On top of that, I would also like to share related news and technologies of the future that would help mankind advance towards a Type 1 Civilization. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to share and contribute to the “Resources“. I would like to thank you in advance for dropping by. I sincerely hope that you can benefit from the recent Food Trends and Food Technologies I catalogued. Kind regards | Ngā mihi RenSun Lee

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