We all know that following a Mediterranean-diet plan is healthy for our hearts and can even help you lose weight. Well, those are not just the reasons why we should eat more Mediterranean diet food or try to make it a major part of our lifestyle. I thought you would also like to know that a Mediterranean-diet may also keep the mind sharp, be linked with slower rates of mental decline for aging people as well as preventing Alzheimer’s disease. I’m keeping a track on the discoveries and research outcomes of the diet on an on-going basis so I can share these with you from time to time.
Just What is a Mediterranean Diet?
Basically the Mediterranean diet is made up of:
- Extra virgin olive
- Whole Grains – wheat bread and cereals
- More fish and seafood, less red meat
- Fruits and vegetables with rich in antioxidants
- Some cheese but less milk
- Little or no intake of processed foods
- Moderate intake of red wine
- Legumes, nuts and beans
What’s not to love in the Mediterranean diet? It’s already delicious and easy to follow. It also offers many options for people with various tastes.
This diet, which is typified by many Mediterranean cultures, has already proved that it reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But studies are now relating Mediterranean diet with healthy benefits to the mind.
Studies on Brain Health
Previous studies were most often without any strong evidence regarding the effect of the Mediterranean diet to the brain. A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition analyzed information which was gathered from the ongoing Chicago Health and Aging project with almost 3800 Chicago residents aging from 65 and above that began in 1993. In three-year intervals, they let the participants undertake memory tests and math skills tests while also tracking their adherence on different kinds of foods including the Mediterranean diet.
The researchers looked closely on participants that followed the Mediterranean diet plan and compared it to their results on age-related cognitive decline. Researchers found that sticking to a Mediterranean diet made a large difference. Out of the 55-point scale for total adherence on Mediterranean diet, the average score was 28. With this result, scores higher than average showed a slower rate of cognitive decline than with the lower scores even after adjusting for other factors like obesity, smoking and educational level.
Another study, which was led by Dr. Yian Gu and other colleagues, analysed data from 2,150 adults with age above 60 who does not have dementia at the start of the study. After 18 months, 253 people developed Alzheimer’s disease. At the end of the study, there was a 38 percent reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease for people following the Mediterranean diet.
The researchers noted the dietary pattern was rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and folate, but low in saturated fats and vitamin B12. Thanks to these studies, the food industry has adopted marketing more healthy foods to take advantage of booming health and wellness trends.
Even Nestlé, the world’s largest company has interests in dietary enhancements to improving brain health. In fact, they have signed an agreement with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) to investigate the role of nutrition in cognitive function.
The Bottom Line
So how does Mediterranean diet help the brain? According to the study, the diet seems to sharpen mental focus and clarity as well as helping to reduce forgetfulness. Simply put, people’s memory was clearer when they followed the Mediterranean diet plan. With my poor memory, that pricked my ears up. Even individuals having brain dysfunction and cognitive impairment had a 48 percent reduction to progression regarding Alzheimer’s disease when they closely followed the diet.
The Mediterranean diet is indeed one of the best choices for nutrition and good health. Really, this is just another reason to adopt the diet due to the prevention of Alzheimer’s related dementia and cognitive decline. It’s a healthy diet where anyone can enjoy and live a healthy lifestyle.
…hope this has been of interest,