I'm sure you've heard that the Mediterranean diet is good for your heart and helps you stay thin. More recently, certain diets have been correlated with Alzheimer's risk, and the Mediterranean diet was found to fair better than other diets, particularly the typical American diet. Whether you are young or old, mentally alert, experiencing senior moments, or are even in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease, you need to know what recent Mediterranean diet studies have demonstrated....
First, for those of you who are not familiar with the Mediterranean diet, it is popular, as you might guess, among people living near the Mediterranean Sea where the farmland is as rich as the fishing and where people eat what they grow and catch. It is a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains, less poultry and dairy, but a moderate amount of nuts, olive oil, and fish. Meat should only be eaten once per month (not mandatory), and sweets rarely.
Mediterranean Diet Food Pyramid: Image via wineinyourdiet.com
Two studies recently reported in the Annals of Neurology and the Archives of Neurology show the dramatic effects of the Mediterranean diet on reduction of Alzheimer's risk. The first found that after closely following the Mediterranean diet for four years, study participants had a 40 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's disease than those who did not follow the diet. But even those who were not strict about the diet decreased their risk of the disease by 15 percent.
The research from the second study showed that the Mediterranean diet even had benefits for those diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Over a four year period of adhering to the diet, the risk of Alzheimer's among MCI subjects was 48 percent lower for those on the diet than those who were not on the diet and moderate adherence to the diet reduced risk by 45 percent!
Because the Mediterranean diet is rich in natural anti-oxidants from fruits and vegetables as well as omega-3 fat, researchers say that the body is better able to fight free radicals which may play a big role in Alzheimer's disease. The nutrient rich foods are able to prevent oxidation and fight inflammation in the brain, thus slowing the disease process.
Researchers also observed that those who adhered to the Mediterranean diet were also more likely to take care of themselves in other ways, like watching their body weight, exercising, and not smoking.
The most important thing to take away from the research on diet and Alzheimer's disease is that the Mediterranean diet improves your heart health, brain function, and even lifespan no matter what your condition. Even those already diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, lived four years longer on the diet than those who did not follow the diet, in yet another study. Alzheimer's patients who only moderately adhered to the diet lived one year longer.
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