Mediterranean diet may prevent memory loss and dementia, study finds

All the more reason to load up on unsaturated fats, fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood

A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and unsaturated fat can help improve mental health. Getty Images
A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and unsaturated fat can help improve mental health. Getty Images

Fan of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet have more reason to load up on fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and olive oil.

According to a recent study, the diet popular in countries along the Mediterranean Sea may be able to lower your risk for dementia and memory loss.

The study, which was published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, examined 343 people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a common cause of dementia, with 169 cognitively normal subjects.

These results add to the body of evidence that show what you eat may influence your memory skills later on

Tommaso Ballarini, study author

Researchers tested a person’s cognitive skills as well as the spinal fluid from 226 participants, with findings showing that people who did not follow the diet closely had more signs of amyloid and tau build up, which is associated with memory less and dementia, in their spinal fluid.

Those who followed the diet also performed better on cognitive tests.

"These results add to the body of evidence that show what you eat may influence your memory skills later on," said Tommaso Ballarini, the author of the study.

What is a Mediterranean Diet?

In contrast to popular belief, the Mediterranean diet is not simply about eating dishes such as lasagne and souvlaki.

Instead, it is about loading up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts and olive oil. Seafood is a staple in the Mediterranean diet, supplemented by dairy, poultry and eggs.

Meanwhile, red meat is eaten only occasionally, while refined grains, oils and sugars, and processed meat are not recommended at all.

Lack of sleep and its connection with dementia

This also comes after it was revealed in another study in April that broken sleep also played a role in developing dementia at an older age.

Middle-aged adults who regularly slept fewer than six hours a night were at greater risk of dementia, according to new research.

People aged between 50 and 70 with a pattern of consistently shorter sleeping periods faced a 30 per cent higher risk of the condition, a study that tracked nearly 8,000 Britons across three decades found.

About 10 million new cases of dementia are reported worldwide every year and the study published in Nature Communications adds to evidence suggesting that disturbed sleeping patterns are a contributing factor.

Updated: May 12, 2021 11:15 AM

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