Mediterranean diet linked to lower dementia risk

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A recent study has found that eating foods common in the Mediterranean diet, such as seafood, fruits, and nuts, may help lower the risk of developing dementia by almost a quarter.

Conducted by experts at Newcastle University, the study analyzed data from over 60,000 people in the UK and found that those who followed a diet similar to the Mediterranean diet had a 23% lower risk of dementia compared to those who did not follow this diet.

This research stands out due to its large scale, considering previous studies in this area were often limited by smaller sample sizes and fewer dementia cases.

The study, published in BMC Medicine, involved a deep analysis of dietary habits of individuals from the UK Biobank who had completed a detailed dietary assessment.

The researchers followed the participants for nearly a decade, during which 882 cases of dementia were recorded.

The team, including Dr. Oliver Shannon, Professor Emma Stevenson, and Professor David Llewellyn, along with colleagues from other respected institutions, evaluated the diets of participants for how closely they matched the Mediterranean diet, known for its high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seafood.

They also considered each participant’s genetic risk for dementia, using what’s called a polygenic risk score, which assesses the cumulative effect of many genes on the risk of developing dementia.

Interestingly, the study suggests that adhering to a Mediterranean-like diet might be beneficial even for those at higher genetic risk for dementia, indicating that diet can play a significant role in reducing the likelihood of developing the condition.

This point, however, was not uniformly found across all analyses, leading the researchers to call for more studies to further explore the relationship between diet, genetics, and the risk of dementia.

The research team emphasizes the importance of incorporating a Mediterranean diet into future strategies aimed at reducing dementia risk.

They highlight that this diet, rich in healthy plant-based foods, could serve as a vital intervention for dementia prevention.

However, they also note the limitations of their study, particularly its focus on individuals of European ancestry, and the need for further research across diverse populations to confirm these benefits universally.

Dr. Janice Ranson, another lead author of the study, points out the long-term brain health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, stressing its protective effect against dementia across different genetic risk profiles.

This underscores the potential for specific dietary choices to play a crucial role in reducing dementia risk, suggesting a move towards more tailored dietary advice in public health strategies aimed at preventing dementia.

This study contributes to the growing evidence that lifestyle choices, particularly diet, can significantly influence our risk of developing dementia.

It reinforces the message that adopting a Mediterranean-style diet may be a practical and effective way to protect brain health and reduce the risk of dementia, offering hope and a clear direction for future prevention efforts.

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