According to a recent study, the Mediterranean diet, which includes more fish, olive oil, nuts, legumes, and vegetables, is good for your brain and may lower your risk of developing dementia.
Traditional Mediterranean diets are low in red meat and dairy, and are frequently associated with health benefits such as a lower risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease. Previous research has also found a link between diet and a longer life expectancy.
As per the study published in the medical journal Neurology, the traditional foods in this diet may interfere with the buildup of two proteins, the abnormal buildup of which is thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s-related brain changes.
Researchers have found that the amyloid protein forms clumps, known as plaques, between nerve cells in the brain and, if left unchecked, can eventually allow a second protein, tau, to spread rapidly through memory-related regions of the brain.
However, people who followed a Mediterranean diet closely showed fewer signs of amyloid and tau buildup than those who did not, according to researchers at the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn.
As part of the study, 343 people at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s were examined and compared to 169 cognitively normal subjects.
The researchers assessed each person’s cognitive abilities, such as language and memory, and used scans to determine brain volume. A total of 226 participants’ spinal fluid was collected and tested for amyloid and tau protein biomarkers.
The study discovered that for every point a participant lost by not following the Mediterranean diet, brain scans revealed that the brain aged an extra year in areas associated with Alzheimer’s. It concluded that the findings were consistent with other scientific studies that suggest the Mediterranean diet may be a “protective factor against memory decline,” adding that this could be explained by a decrease in amyloid and tau proteins in diet adherents.
Postdoctoral fellow Tommaso Ballarini, who led the research, said, “These results add to the body of evidence that shows what you eat may influence your memory skills later on.” Researchers have suggested that more research be conducted to determine what this means for Alzheimer’s treatment.