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Mediterranean diet may reduce chance of dementia, Alzheimer’s: study

By Gianna Melillo,


A traditional Mediterranean diet rich in seafood, fruits and nuts may help reduce the risk of dementia, even among those with a higher genetic risk for the condition, new research suggests.

Researchers at U.K.’s Newcastle University assessed data from 60,298 individuals in the UK Biobank who were followed for an average of nine years.

They found those who ate a Mediterranean-like diet had an up to 23 percent lower risk of dementia compared with those who did not.

A total of 882 cases of dementia were recorded over the course of the study.

In the past, the diet has been linked with a host of health benefits , including increased lifespan and cardiovascular disease prevention.

For the current study, researchers analyzed participants’ dietary assessments and polygenic risk, which measured all the genes related to dementia risk. Electronic medical records were also used to track participants’ health.

“Dementia impacts the lives of millions of individuals throughout the world, and there are currently limited options for treating this condition,” lead author Oliver Shannon said in a statement .

“Finding ways to reduce our risk of developing dementia is, therefore, a major priority for researchers and clinicians. Our study suggests that eating a more Mediterranean-like diet could be one strategy to help individuals lower their risk of dementia,” said Shannon, a lecturer in human nutrition and aging at Newcastle University.

Individuals between the ages 40 and 69 were recruited to the study between 2006 and 2010.

Overall, the current study “strengthens the public health message that we can all help to reduce our risk of dementia by eating a more Mediterranean-like diet,” said author John Mathers, professor of human nutrition at Newcastle University.

Instead of promoting generic healthy diet advice for the prevention of dementia, efforts could instead “focus on supporting people to increase consumption of specific foods and nutrients that are essential for brain health,” Mathers added.

Genetic data was only available for individuals of European ancestry and more studies are needed to determine the potential benefits of Mediterranean diets on a range of populations, authors cautioned.

Authors also note more research is needed to better understand the interaction between diet and genetics on dementia risk.

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