Mediterranean diet could ward off dementia

By Steven Reinberg Health Day Journalist

THURSDAY May 6, 2021 (HealthDay News)

A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, olive oil and fish – the so-called Mediterranean diet – may protect the brain from the build-up and shrinkage of dental plaque, suggests a new study.

German researchers have examined the link between diet and the proteins amyloid and tau, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, but also found in the brains of older people without dementia.

“These findings contribute to the body of evidence that links eating habits to brain health and cognitive performance in older people,” said lead researcher Tommaso Ballarini, postdoctoral researcher at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn.

A Mediterranean-style diet could protect the brain from neurodegeneration and therefore reduce the risk of developing dementia, he said.

“However, more research is needed to validate these findings and better understand the underlying mechanisms,” Ballarini said, as this study could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

For the study, he and his colleagues collected data on more than 500 people, more than 300 of whom were at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Participants reported their diet and took language, memory and executive function tests. They also had brain scans and more than 200 took cerebrospinal fluid samples to look for biomarkers of amyloid and tau protein.

After adjusting for age, gender, and upbringing, the researchers found that every point lower on the Mediterranean diet scale was linked to almost a year older of brain aging, observed in the closely related part of the brain. linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

People who did not follow a Mediterranean diet had higher levels of amyloid and tau markers, the researchers found. Additionally, people who did not follow a Mediterranean diet scored lower on memory tests than those who did.

“Overall, closer adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet was associated with preserved brain volume in areas vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, less abnormal amyloid and tau, and better test performance. from memory, ”said Ballarini.

One of the limitations of the study is that people self-reported their diet, which could lead to errors in remembering what and how much they ate, the researchers noted.

An American expert said that diet is only part of the picture for Alzheimer’s disease.

“We continue to see the literature revolve around nutrition and diet and what that might mean later in life,” said Heather Snyder, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Diet, however, is not the only lifestyle factor that could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, she said.

“I think the data continues to evolve and demonstrate that lifestyle interventions are likely beneficial in reducing cognitive decline,” Snyder said.

Other elements of the lifestyle, such as exercise, are also important, she said. It is not yet clear how diet and exercise reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“I think the key is to really understand what this recipe is because it’s unlikely to be just one thing,” Snyder said. “It will most likely be a combination and synergy of these behaviors that will be the most beneficial.”

Snyder noted that these same lifestyle factors help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and even some cancers. “But it is necessary to determine how and what could be most beneficial for each of them,” she added.

“When we look at Alzheimer’s disease, cognition, and cognitive decline, we’ve always seen that diets like the Mediterranean diet are associated with lower risk later in life. What they all have in common, it’s that a balanced diet ensures that your brain has the needs, ”Snyder said.

“I think what we do know is that what’s good for your heart is good for your brain, so eat a balanced diet,” she said. “There’s no one great diet, but make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need, but also staying active, moving and staying engaged.”


One of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease is __________________.
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The report was published online May 5 in the journal Neurology.

More information

To learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and diet, see the Alzheimer Association.

SOURCES: Tommaso Ballarini, PhD, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Bonn, Germany; Heather Snyder, PhD, vice president, medical and scientific relations, Alzheimer’s Association; Neurology, May 5, 2021, online

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