A Mediterranean weight loss plan might assist forestall Alzheimer’s, in accordance with new examine outcomes
A Mediterranean diet – one high in fish, vegetables, and olive oil – could help stave off Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.
Analysis of brain scans of more than 500 older adults found that seniors who consumed a Mediterranean diet were less likely to show brain shrinkage and high levels of abnormal proteins that were found to be the brains of people who Alzheimer’s disease was diagnosed, researchers reported in the medical journal Neurology.
“A Mediterranean diet could help slow down the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease and prevent cognitive decline,” said the study’s lead author, Tommaso Ballarini, postdoctoral fellow at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn. “This is particularly relevant for older people who are at higher risk for Alzheimer’s.”
“This study adds to the evidence on the protective effects of a healthy lifestyle on brain health and gives hope for the prevention of dementia,” Ballarini said in an email.
Scientists have long known that the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease shrink and have large amounts of two abnormal proteins: amyloid beta, which causes plaques to form between nerve cells, and dew, which eventually builds up in tangles that run inside Clogging cells killing them.
For the new study, Ballarini and his colleagues recruited 512 seniors, a mean age of 69, of whom 343 were at higher risk for Alzheimer’s, either because of close relatives with the disease or because of impaired memory or reasoning.
All seniors’ brains were scanned by MRI and samples of cerebrospinal fluid were tested for levels of the two abnormal proteins. The diet data comes from a questionnaire asking about the foods consumed in the past month. Each study participant received a rating based on how often they ate healthy foods typical of the Mediterranean diet, such as fish, vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, and grains, olive oil, and how often they consumed unhealthy foods such as red meat.
Thinking or cognitive skills were assessed using a series of tests that focused on five different areas, including language skills, memory, and executive function. The executive role includes facilities such as judgment and the ability to focus and plan.
When analyzing the combined results of the brain scans, cognitive tests, and nutritional scores, as well as demographic factors such as age, gender, and education, the researchers found that each lower point of nutritional value represented nearly a full year of brain aging.
Additionally, those who had low nutritional scores were more likely to have lower scores and higher amyloid and tau scores on memory tests.
Research doesn’t explain how diet could affect brain health.
“This remains a fascinating open question,” said Ballarini. “A Mediterranean diet could act on certain mechanisms related to the neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease, for example by modulating neuroinflammation, or maintaining brain health through systemic effects, for example by promoting cardiovascular health.”
The main message of this study is that a healthy lifestyle can help maintain cognition, said Dr. Oscar Lopez, professor of neurology in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
What the study can’t tell is whether the diet is helping the brain or if it’s just a marker of an overall healthy lifestyle, Lopez said. “People who eat healthy diets visit their doctors more often, are better educated, and engage in cognitive stimulating activities,” he added. “So it’s a constellation of activities that revolve around healthy eating.”
Even so, Lopez said, a Mediterranean diet has been shown to be good for you in other ways. Even if it hasn’t been proven to keep brain functioning, it will keep you healthy.