A Mediterranean diet that includes nuts, seafood, whole grains and vegetables can reduce the risk of dementia by nearly 25%, according to a study that could pave the way for new preventive treatments. Guardian.
Regardless of a person’s genetic risk, the study’s findings suggest that high consumption of plant-based foods may have a “protective effect” against dementia. If further research confirms the results, this study can form the basis of future public health strategies.
“Findings from this study highlight the long-term benefits for brain health of eating a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. The protective effect of this diet against dementia is evident regardless of a person’s genetic risk. This is a recommendation for those who want to make healthy dietary choices and reduce their risk of dementia.” A beneficial lifestyle may be the choice,” said Janice Ronson, a researcher at the University of Exeter and co-author of the study.
The study’s findings, published in the journal PMC Medicine, are based on data collected from more than 60,000 people in the UK. The researchers took into account each person’s genetic risk for dementia. Over nearly a decade, there were 882 cases of dementia, but those who followed a strict Mediterranean diet had a 23% lower risk than those who followed a different diet.
Dr Oliver Shannon, professor of human nutrition at Newcastle University and lead author of the study, said finding ways to reduce the risk of developing dementia was a “key priority” for public health. “Dementia affects the lives of millions of people worldwide, and there are currently limited options to treat the condition,” he said.
However, Professor David Curtis, from UCL’s Institute of Genetics, said the study did not reflect that people following a Mediterranean diet were more likely to have a healthier lifestyle in general. In his view, it’s unclear whether diet itself reduces dementia risk, “though it’s plausible that it might.”
“It’s important to note that the study looked at all types of dementia, not Alzheimer’s disease specifically. In my opinion, if there is an effect of diet, it’s generally more on cardiovascular health, and therefore affects vascular dementia than Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.
For his part, Duane Mellor, a dietitian and lecturer at Aston University, noted that the food questionnaire used did not reflect British eating habits.
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