According to a new study, consuming a Mediterranean diet may reduce people’s risk of developing dementia.
A recent study published in the journal BMC Medicine suggested that consuming a Mediterranean diet may lower dementia risk by a quarter.
It’s believed that as a Mediterranean diet consists of many healthy things such as seafood, whole grains, vegetables, and nuts, it may produce something of a “protective effect” against dementia regardless of a person’s genetic risk.
Researchers say this could potentially form the basis for future public health strategies provided future research confirms the findings.
Consuming a Mediterranean diet – may have many long-term brain health benefits
Dr Janice Ranson, a senior research fellow at the University of Exeter, co-authored the study.
Regarding the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, Ranson said, “The findings from this large population-based study underscore the long-term brain health benefits of consuming a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
“The protective effect of this diet against dementia was evident regardless of a person’s genetic risk, and so this is likely to be a beneficial lifestyle choice for people looking to make healthy dietary choices and reduce their risk of dementia.”
Dementia – a disease which impacts millions of people throughout the world
Dr Oliver Shannon, a lecturer in human nutrition and ageing at Newcastle University and co-lead author, explained that finding ways to reduce the risk of developing dementia was a “major priority” for public health.
He said, “Dementia impacts the lives of millions of individuals throughout the world, and there are currently limited options for treating this condition”.
Susan Mitchell, head of policy at Alzheimer’s Research UK, admitted that while the research was “intriguing”, further investigation was required.
Mitchell added: “There is a wealth of evidence that eating a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. But the evidence for specific diets is much less clearcut”.
Study published in the journal BMC Medicine – findings based on data from more than 60,000 individuals
The study published in the journal BMC Medicine had its findings based on data from more than 60,000 individuals from the UK Biobank, an online database comprised of medical and lifestyle records from more than half a million Britons.
In the study, the researchers scored individuals primarily using two measures for adherence to the Mediterranean diet and also considered each individual’s genetic risk for dementia.
Over a decade, they found that there were 882 cases of dementia, but those who happened to follow a strict Mediterranean diet had what they believed to be a 23% lower risk of developing the debilitating condition compared with those who consumed other diets.
Professor David Curtis from UCL’s Genetics Institute concluded that, in his opinion, the study did not totally reflect the fact that people who consumed a Mediterranean diet were more likely to have a generally healthy lifestyle.
Curtis argued that this made it unclear whether the diet itself was the main factor in reducing dementia risk but accepted that “it is plausible that it might do so”.