Change Your Mind: Follow Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is among the most-studied diets on the planet. Since the mid-twentieth century, scientists around the world have intensively investigated the health benefits of this diet/lifestyle pattern, and evidence is mounting higher than a plate of pasta in Sicily that it’s good for you. Adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet is associated with longer life and significantly reduced rates of common Western diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and cardiovascular disease. There’s even been some suggestion over the years that the Mediterranean diet is good for the aging brain.
Now, British researchers have published a new systematic review of existing literature on the question. It concludes that greater adherence to a classic Mediterranean diet is associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, and decreased rates of age-related cognitive decline. Cognitive decline is a condition often linked to advanced age. It’s characterized by failing memory and a gradually decreasing ability to perform common mental tasks, such as reasoning, learning and problem solving. In some instances, it’s believed to be a transitional stage preceding a descent into dementia.
Scientists are still debating what, precisely, about the Mediterranean diet is so good for the brain. Many experts note that it features plenty of fish—which supplies an important brain nutrient, the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA—and abundant antioxidants from plant phytonutrients. Olive oil, which is the chief source of fat in the diet, provides antioxidants that may help protect the body against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress, caused by too many free radicals, is implicated in a number of diseases.
Lourida I, Soni M, Thompson-Coon J, Purandare N, Lang IA, Ukoumunne OC, et al. Mediterranean diet, cognitive function, and dementia: a systematic review. Epidemiology. 2013 Jul;24(4):479-89. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3182944410.
Solfrizzi V, Panza F, Frisardi V, Seripa D, Logroscino G, Imbimbo BP, et al. Diet and Alzheimer's disease risk factors or prevention: the current evidence. Expert Rev Neurother. 2011 May;11(5):677-708. doi: 10.1586/ern.11.56.