New diet linked to lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Posted on 19th March 2015

Research has suggested that a diet called the MIND diet, which includes aspects of a Mediterranean diet, could lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The research is published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

The research team, based at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, completed a study of 923 people aged between 58 and 98 without dementia who were followed up over a four and a half year period with memory and thinking tests. Participants were asked to complete a food questionnaire, where they provided information on their diet. The components of their diets were then scored against rating scales associated with three specific diets – a Mediterranean diet, DASH diet and MIND diet.

The MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet) was developed by researchers at Rush University as a hybrid of a typical Mediterranean diet and a diet called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), designed to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. The MIND diet includes berries, leafy green vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine and avoids foods high in saturated fats such as red meats, butter, cheese, pastries and fast food.

Over the four and a half year study, 144 participants developed Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found that those participants whose diet scored more highly using the MIND diet rating score had a lower risk of developing the disease compared to those whose scores were lower.

Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“While age has the biggest influence on our likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s, research is showing that lifestyle factors may also play a role in our risk of developing the disease. The old saying ‘what is good for your heart is good for your head’ seems to hold true, as maintaining good cardiovascular health through a balanced diet, regular exercise and not smoking has been shown to help keep the brain healthy too.

“While a healthy balanced diet, including aspects of a typical Mediterranean diet such as fresh vegetables, whole grains and fish, has been linked to a lower risk of dementia it’s often difficult to drill down to the particular aspect of diet, if there is one, that may be most beneficial. At the moment, it’s best to adopt a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and to avoid too many unhealthy treats.”

Posted in Science news