Does a Mediterranean diet really reduce dementia risk?
Several studies have suggested that a healthy diet may reduce the risk of dementia, but a new study has shown that two diets, including the Mediterranean diet, are not associated with a lower risk of dementia.
The results of the study were published today in the online edition of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Vegetables, legumes, fruits, fish, and healthy fats like olive oil make up a large portion of the Mediterranean diet, whereas dairy products, red meat, and saturated fatty acids make up a small portion.
“Previous studies on the effects of diet on dementia risk have had mixed results,” says study author Isabelle Glans. “While our study does not rule out a possible association between diet and dementia, we did not find a link in our study, which had a long follow-up period, included younger participants than some other studies and did not require people to remember what foods they had eaten regularly years before.”
Researchers in Sweden selected 28,000 individuals for the study. At the beginning of the trial, participants had an average age of 58 and were free of dementia.
They were monitored for 20 years. Participants in the study conducted an interview, a detailed meal frequency questionnaire, and a seven-day food diary.
At the conclusion of the trial, 1,943 individuals, or 6.9%, had dementia diagnoses, including Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
The researchers investigated the degree to which the diets of the subjects matched the traditional dietary recommendations as well as the Mediterranean diet.
After taking into account age, gender, and level of education, they did not find a link between a regular diet or the Mediterranean diet and a lower risk of dementia.
Glans pointed out that additional study is required to verify the results.
The study’s editorial’s author, Nils Peters, MD, of the University of Basel in Switzerland, adds “Diet on its own may not have a strong enough effect on memory and thinking, but is likely one factor among others that influence the course of cognitive function. Dietary strategies will still potentially be needed along with other measures to control risk factors.”
The possibility that participants may exaggerate their own food and lifestyle behaviors was one of the drawbacks of the research.
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