Dementia & Diet
IS THERE A CORRELATION?
A recent piece explored the possible link between diet and dementia. A NYT reporter spoke to dozens of experts in aging to determine whether they believed such a correlation exists. Interestingly, although opinions vary, it does appear that most experts agree that the answer is yes. The research published in this piece notes that “there is a compelling and ever-growing body of research that does suggest that some foods and diets may offer real benefits to an aging brain.” Unsurprisingly, diets that are recommended to address diabetes, obesity, and heart disease also prevent age-related cognitive issues, including Alzheimer’s disease. Both the Mediterranean diet and the MIND (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, which focus on fresh produce, beans, nuts, fish, whole grains and olive oil appear to offer some protection against cognitive decline. There was also agreement about the importance of leafy green vegetables. One of the more interesting findings cited in the piece was a controlled trial conducted in Israel earlier this year. Brain scans of more than 200 people, all on one of three different diets, were reviewed. The research showed that after 18 months
“…those who followed a “green” Mediterranean diet—one rich in Mankai (a nutrient-packed green plant), green tea and walnuts—had the slowest rate of age-related brain atrophy. Those who followed a traditional Mediterranean diet were close behind. Those who followed regular healthy diet guidelines—which was less plant-based and allowed for more processed and red meat than the other two diets—had greater declines in brain volume.”
And these effects were more evident in subjects who were 50 and older.