Mediterranean diet associated with decreased risk of dementia

Mediterranean diet associated with decreased risk of dementia

Mediterranean diet

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Eating a traditional Mediterranean-type diet—rich in foods like seafood, fruit, and nuts—can help reduce the risk of dementia by nearly a quarter, a new study has revealed.

Experts at Newcastle University found that individuals who ate a Mediterranean-like diet had up to a 23% lower risk for dementia than those who did not.

This research, published today in BMC Medicineis one of the largest studies of its kind, as previous studies have generally been limited to small sample sizes and low numbers of dementia cases.

Priority for researchers

The scientists analyzed data from 60,298 individuals from the UK Biobank, a large cohort including individuals from across the UK, who completed a dietary assessment.

The authors scored individuals based on how closely their diet matched the main features of a Mediterranean. The participants were followed for nearly a decade, during which there were 882 cases of dementia.

The authors took into account each individual’s genetic risk for dementia by estimating what is known as their polygenic risk—a measure of all the different genes associated with dementia risk.

Led by Dr. Oliver Shannon, Lecturer in Human Nutrition and Aging, Newcastle University, led the study with Professor Emma Stevenson and joint senior author Professor David Llewellyn. The research also involved experts from the universities of Edinburgh, UEA and Exeter.

said Dr. Shannon, “Dementia affects the lives of millions of individuals worldwide, and there are currently limited options for treating this condition. Finding ways to reduce our risk of developing dementia is, therefore, a major priority for researchers and clinicians. Our study suggests that eating a more Mediterranean-like diet may be a strategy to help individuals lower their risk of dementia.”

The authors found no significant interaction between polygenic risk for dementia and the associations between adherence to the Mediterranean diet. They say this may indicate that even for those with a higher genetic risk, having a better diet can reduce the likelihood of developing the condition.

This finding was not consistent across all reviews and the authors suggest that further research is needed to assess the interaction between diet and genetics on dementia risk.

John Mathers, Professor of Human Nutrition, Newcastle University, said, “The good news from this study is that even for those with a higher genetic risk, having a better diet reduced the likelihood to develop dementia.

“Although more research is needed in this area, this reinforces the public health message that we can all help to reduce our risk of dementia by eating a more Mediterranean-like diet.”

Important intervention

The authors caution that their analysis was limited to individuals who reported themselves as white, British or Irish, as is only available based on European ancestry, and further research is needed in a range of populations to determine the potential benefit.

They concluded that based on their data, a Mediterranean diet with a high intake of healthy plant-based foods may be an important intervention to include in future strategies to reduce the risk of dementia.

Dr. Janice Ranson, at the University of Exeter, joint lead author on the paper, said, “Findings from this large population-based study highlight the long-term brain health benefits of consuming the diet in the Mediterranean, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.

“The protective effect of this diet against dementia is evident regardless of a person’s genetic risk, and so it is likely to be a beneficial lifestyle choice for people looking to make healthy choices. food choices and reduce their risk of dementia. Prevention efforts can go beyond generic healthy advice and focus on supporting people to increase consumption of specific foods and nutrients important for brain health.”

Additional information:
Oliver Shannon, Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with lower risk of dementia, independent of genetic predisposition: findings from the UK Biobank prospective cohort study, BMC Medicine (2023). DOI: 10.1186/s12916-023-02772-3. … 6/s12916-023-02772-3

Quote: Mediterranean diet linked to reduced risk of dementia (2023, March 13) retrieved on 14 March 2023 from

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