Celebrities and health enthusiasts have long hailed the Mediterranean diet for its weight loss and energy-boosting benefits. Now, new research indicates that this popular diet may also reduce the risk of developing dementia.
The Mediterranean diet is characterized by its emphasis on seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. It is part of the “Blue Zone” lifestyles observed in regions known for their longevity and good health. In addition to promoting weight management, the diet has been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and support healthy blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight.
A recent study conducted by researchers from Newcastle University and Queen’s University Belfast analyzed data from over 60,000 participants. The findings revealed that individuals who closely adhered to the Mediterranean diet had a remarkable 23% lower risk of developing dementia compared to those with low adherence.
The Mediterranean diet incorporates a variety of nutrient-rich foods, including vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and a moderate amount of animal protein. To embark on this diet, experts recommend adding three servings of fish per week and incorporating skinless poultry, beans, lentils, and other legumes for protein. Nuts should be consumed in moderation, while olive oil can be used as a healthier fat option. Starchy vegetables and whole grains are favored over processed grains.
On the flip side, the Mediterranean diet also advises limiting the consumption of sugary foods, fried food, cheese, refined flour, white rice, red meats, and processed meats. The overarching philosophy behind this dietary approach is a more social and relaxed approach to meals, encouraging individuals to savor and enjoy the food they consume.
Dementia, a group of symptoms that impact memory, thinking, and social abilities, affects a significant portion of the older population. According to researchers from Columbia University, almost 10% of adults aged 65 and older in the United States have dementia. However, the new research suggests that by following a Mediterranean-like diet, one can potentially lower the risk of developing this debilitating condition.
Dr. Oliver Shannon, lead author of the study, highlights the importance of diet in promoting brain health. He emphasizes that adopting a Mediterranean-style diet may be a proactive step individuals can take to protect their cognitive function as they age. With the plethora of health benefits associated with this dietary approach, it is no wonder that the Mediterranean diet continues to gain popularity as a holistic way to enhance overall well-being and potentially reduce the risk of dementia.
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