Studies show a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and oily fats can help stave some forms of dementia
Until there is a cure for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, the best way we can fight the disease is with prevention.
In addition to exercising regularly and not smoking, a new study has emerged that gives clues into which foods may help keep our brain healthy.
A report from the National Institutes of Health shows following the so-called Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s for several years.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The diet is named after the Mediterranean region because it’s traditionally followed in countries like Italy and Greece. It is high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, fish and fats from olives (including extra virgin olive oil).
The diet includes poultry, eggs and dairy in moderation, while it is low in red meat, sugar and processed foods.
Parts of the brain measured over time
The NIH study took two groups of people who ranged in age from 30 to 60 and showed no signs of dementia when they were chosen for the study. One group was on a Mediterranean diet, while the other was on a Western diet – higher in red meats, saturated fats and refined sugar.
The key was in studying two years’ worth of brain scans, the people on the Western diet showed an increase in beta-amyloid deposits, which are proteins known to collect in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The brains of those on the Western diet also showed lower energy use, which researchers suggest is an early development of dementia.
“We’re seeing these changes only in parts of the brain specifically affected by Alzheimer’s, and in relatively young adults,” said Dr. Lisa Mosconi after evaluating the results of the study. “It all points to the way we eat putting us at risk for Alzheimer’s down the line. If your diet isn’t balanced, you really need to make an effort to fix it, if not for your body, then for your brain.”
Doctors warn that more research needs to be done in this area among larger and more diverse groups of people, but many suggest following a Mediterranean diet because of other proven health benefits – the diet is already linked to lower cholesterol levels, along with a reduced risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Join Lake Gibson Village in the fight against Alzheimer’s
September is World Alzheimer’s Month, launched in 2012 to help raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds dementia.
Lake Gibson Village is proud to partner with the Alzheimer’s Association in the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.
The 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Polk County is Saturday, October 20. Registration opens at 8:00 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, located at 175 Lake Hollingsworth Drive in Lakeland. The walk around Lake Hollingsworth begins at 9:00 a.m.
Lake Gibson Village has a team participating in the walk. Here is a link to our team page, along with information on how to donate to help us reach our fundraising goal for the Alzheimer’s Association.