That the Mediterranean diet is one of the best for health is something that was already known. However, now, a new study has established a link between following a Mediterranean diet and reducing cognitive decline.
The research, published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, suggests that following a Mediterranean diet at the population level may reduce the risk of and delay cognitive decline.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dementia is a general term that refers to significant cognitive decline, often in adulthood. Different diseases can cause dementia, although the most common is Alzheimer’s.
Although a certain level of cognitive decline is common as people age, significant cognitive decline, as occurs in people with dementia, is not a normal part of aging.
The authors of the new study wanted to explore the possible role of diet in the fight against dementia within a publication. Specifically, they wanted to see what effect a Mediterranean diet could have on relative cognition.
To do the research, the authors relied on data from two large studies exploring the relationship between nutritional supplementation and age-related macular degeneration, a condition that affects vision.
For the two studies, the scientists recruited almost 9,000 participants. In the first study they were people recruited between 1992 and 1998 and, in the second, between 2006 and 2008.
Thus, the scientists evaluated the cognitive function of the participants in the first study, between 2000 and 2004. The second study included evaluations at the beginning of the study and then at 2, 4, and 10 years.
The authors used standardized tests to determine cognitive functioning and a questionnaire to determine to what extent the participants had followed a Mediterranean diet past year.
Risk of cognitive decline
The authors found that stricter adherence to a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of cognitive decline and a higher numerical result in cognitive functioning scores.
They also found that fish consumption was particularly associated with a lower risk of cognitive declineas well as slower overall cognitive decline.
The differences in cognition were relatively small, meaning that, on an individual level, they are unlikely to be noticed. However, the results could make a bigger difference at the population level.
As the authors note, the study had some limitations. While they took into account some factors that may have affected the results, such as each participant’s relative level of education, the team did not take into account other confounding factors.
For example, it could be that people who follow a Mediterranean diet are generally more physically active, which can significantly reduce the risk of several major health problems.
However, the research contributes to growing evidence that a Mediterranean diet can make a significant difference in overall health of a population.