A new study from Newcastle University and elsewhere aimed to examine whether adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet can help prevent dementia.
The researchers used data from 60,298 participants in the UK Biobank who were followed for an average of 9.1 years.
The Mediterranean-style diet is characterized by high consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats such as olive oil, while limiting the intake of red meat and processed foods.
The researchers measured adherence to the Mediterranean-style diet using two different scores, the Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener (MEDAS) continuous score and the Mediterranean diet Pyramid (PYRAMID) score.
The results of the study showed that higher adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet was associated with a lower risk of developing dementia, independent of genetic risk.
The researchers found that higher adherence to the Mediterranean-style diet, as measured by both the MEDAS continuous and PYRAMID scores, was associated with a lower risk of dementia.
In other words, participants who adhered more closely to a Mediterranean-style diet were less likely to develop dementia.
Interestingly, the researchers also tested the interaction between Mediterranean-style diet adherence and polygenic risk for dementia but found no significant association.
This suggests that following a Mediterranean-style diet can provide a protective effect against dementia regardless of an individual’s genetic risk.
In conclusion, the study provides strong evidence that a Mediterranean-style diet is associated with a lower risk of dementia, independent of genetic risk.
These findings are particularly important given the growing societal cost of dementia and the need for effective prevention strategies.
The study highlights the potential benefits of following a Mediterranean-style diet and underscores the importance of dietary interventions in the prevention of dementia.
Several lifestyle factors can help reduce the risk of developing dementia. Some of the most important strategies are:
Eating a healthy diet: As we discussed earlier, following a Mediterranean-style diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats, and limiting the intake of red meat and processed foods, can help reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Regular physical exercise: Regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, can help improve brain health and reduce the risk of dementia. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
Mental stimulation: Engaging in mentally stimulating activities, such as reading, crossword puzzles, or learning a new language, can help keep the brain active and reduce the risk of dementia.
Social engagement: Staying socially active and maintaining strong social connections can also help reduce the risk of dementia. Joining clubs, volunteering, or simply spending time with friends and family can all be beneficial.
Managing health conditions: Keeping chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, under control can also help reduce the risk of dementia.
Avoiding harmful substances: Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can also help reduce the risk of dementia.
Overall, adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, mental stimulation, social engagement, and the management of health conditions, can all help reduce the risk of developing dementia.
The research was published in BMC Medicine and was conducted by Oliver Shannon et al.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and carotenoid supplements could improve memory.
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