Alzheimer’s is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that gradually impairs memory and reasoning skills. This life-altering disease is the most common type of dementia in aging, affecting more than five million Americans and their families currently living in the U.S. today. But, what is most unsettling about Alzheimer’s is that it can initially begin its damage decades before symptoms are generally seen.
Among recent Alzheimer’s and dementia treatment and management strategies, researchers have discovered a shocking revelation between the Mediterranean diet and Alzheimer’s. Amazingly, research suggests that a Mediterranean diet may slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
Inspired by the dietary traditions of Crete, Greece and southern Italy during the mid-20th century, the Mediterranean diet is revered for its exceptionally healthy menu. Unlike a typical American western diet, brimming with red meat, saturated fats, and refined sugar; the Mediterranean focuses on clean eating. It is highly plant-based and incorporates more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, less dairy, and more lean protein and fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, trout.
Those that enjoy a Mediterranean style experience lower rates of chronic illness, such as heart disease or high blood pressure, and higher than average adult life expectancy. Now research is proposing that the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
How does the Mediterranean diet slow Alzheimer’s disease?
In a research study led by Dr. Lis Mosconi from Weill Cornell Medicine, brain imaging scans showed variations between individuals who consumed a Mediterranean diet and a western diet. The research suggested that the differences may signal early Alzheimer’s disease, which prompted further testing.
Led by the same team, individuals ages 30 through 60 with no signs of dementia were selected to partake in another study to further understand the Mediterranean diet’s effects on Alzheimer’s. To start, 34 subjects who consumed the diet and 36 who consumed a western diet received brain imaging, and then again in two years to compare the results.
Results revealed that those who had previously consumed a western diet already had an increased amount of beta-amyloid deposits in the brain than those applying the diet. Later in life, Beta-amyloid, when corrupted, can destroy nerve cells, leading to the loss of thought and memory in Alzheimer’s disease.
Brain scans of the western dieters revealed lower brain activity at the beginning of the study compared to those eating a Mediterranean-style cuisine.
Once the team went over the brain imaging from two years after, it confirmed their suspicions that even more beta-amyloid deposits were collected, alongside lower brain activity of those consuming Western diets than the Mediterranean dieters. The research strongly attests that incorporating a Mediterranean diet can slow the development of Alzheimer’s, yet further research is needed. However, the results of this study are promising in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Should you eat a Mediterranean diet?
Research strongly suggests that the diet could help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The Mediterranean diet’s healthy eating pattern also boasts other exceptional benefits such as heart health, increased lifespan, and healthy aging. The Mediterranean diet encourages healthy helpings of foods naturally containing healthy fats, like omega-3s, often associated with better brain function and cardiovascular health. Incorporating healthy lifestyles such as the Mediterranean diet into your daily regime will prove to have a variety of beneficial outcomes.