The Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of cognitive problems

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  • A new study looked at data from more than 6,000 Hispanic and Latino people who followed a Mediterranean diet.
  • The researchers found that strict adherence to the diet was associated with better cognition and less memory decline.
  • There are currently more 6 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States, and that number is expected to reach 13 million by 2050.

The Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, according to new research.

The studywhich was published in Open JAMA Network On Thursday, more than 6,000 Hispanic and Latino people who followed a Mediterranean diet found that strict adherence to the diet was associated with greater cognition and less memory decline.

There are currently more 6 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States, and that number is expected to reach 13 million by 2050.

The data also shows that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is significant among Hispanic and Latino people. The number of Hispanic and Latino people with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to increase by 832% between 2012 and 2060.

The Mediterranean diet, which prior to research has been shown to be protective against cognitive decline, may help mitigate this risk, the researchers say.

“These results confirm what other studies have found and reinforce the link between cognitive health and the Mediterranean diet. It’s great that the population is specifically Latino/Hispanic and the foods are culturally appropriate, as it suggests that n ‘Anyone, anywhere can benefit from a Mediterranean-style diet’, Danielle McAvoyMSPH, RD, dietitian at Strong Home Gym, told Healthline.

The researchers assessed the health data of 6,321 Hispanic or Latino adults who loosely, moderately or strictly adhered to the Mediterranean diet.

Participants completed dietary assessments and underwent two cognitive tests.

Of the group, 35.8% adhered vaguely to the Mediterranean diet, 45.4% adhered moderately to it, and 18.8% strictly adhered to the diet.

The research team found that strict adherence to the diet was associated with greater cognition and a lower risk of learning and memory decline than those who vaguely adhered to the diet.

According to the researchers, the results suggest that strict adherence to the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease in the Hispanic and Latino population.

“While ‘Mediterranean diets’ have historically been associated with a reduced risk of dementia, this study reminds us that rather than something specific to a particular diet – with a given label or tied to a given culture – the benefits come from consuming robust amounts of foods that help maintain performance and brain health and avoiding or limiting those that are likely to cause harm,” Dr Scott Kaisera geriatrician and director of geriatric cognitive health for the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., said.

Healthy lifestyle habits have long been linked to a lower risk of dementia, even in people at risk of developing the disease.

According Dr Dana Ellis Hunnessenior clinical dietitian at the UCLA Medical Center, assistant professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and author of Recipe for survivalthe cognitive benefits of the Mediterranean diet are linked to the anti-inflammatory effects of the diet.

Research has shown that inflammation is closely associated with chronic diseases. Inflammation has also been linked to the accumulation of plaques in the brain characterized by Alzheimer’s disease.

“There are many nutritional and epidemiological studies that indicate that a healthy diet — like the Mediterranean diet — reduces inflammation,” Hunnes said.

“One of the best things we can do to slow aging and cognitive decline is to eat a very healthy, anti-inflammatory, plant-based diet, such as a Mediterranean diet,” Hunnes added.

McAvoy says the Mediterranean diet is easy for most people to follow.

“It doesn’t specify portions or how much food you should eat — you eat as much as you need based on body size and activity level,” McAvoy said.

According to Kaiser, the study also shows that we don’t need to give up our culture, tastes, or food preferences to maintain a brain-healthy diet.

“Instead, as part of our likes and dislikes, we can aim to include generous amounts of beneficial brain-boosting foods and avoid or limit those that are most likely to do harm,” says Kaiser.

The Mediterranean diet includes nuts, seeds, and olive oil as well as plant-based foods, including fruits, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products are also key components of the Mediterranean diet.

Hunnes says you can also follow an all-plant-based Mediterranean diet and include nut and seaweed oils for omega-3 fatty acids.

Red meat, processed foods and butter should be avoided.

“Following this type of diet is not only extremely good for your personal health and cognition, but it’s also healthy and beneficial for the environment and climate change,” Hunnes said.

The Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, new research suggests. Dietitians say that the Mediterranean has a strong anti-inflammatory effect, which helps against the development of chronic diseases.

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