Dementia: Dr Sara on benefits of being in nature
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
Dementia tells a complicated story about ageing populations. Although people are living longer than ever before – thanks to advances in health and prosperity – it has led to a surge in dementia rates. That’s because age is the predominant risk factor for dementia.
However, the figures should not give rise to a sense of defeatism.
Increasing evidence suggests much can be done to reduce the risk of dementia and a study published last year attests to the benefits of following a Mediterranean-style diet.
“Current evidence suggests that nutrition in general and specific dietary patterns in particular, such as the Mediterranean type diet (MeDi), can be employed as potential preventive strategies against the development of dementia and cognitive decline,” researchers wrote in a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
However, the researchers noted that “longitudinal data exploring the applicability of these findings in populations of Mediterranean origin are limited”.
Longitudinal data is data that is collected sequentially from the same respondents over time.
The researchers sought to remedy this by exploring the potential relationships of the Mediterranean diet adherence with dementia incidence rates and cognitive change over time in a traditional Mediterranean population, characterised by a lifelong exposure to Mediterranean eating habits and lifestyle.
The sample consisted of 1046 non-demented individuals over the age of 64, with available baseline dietary information and longitudinal follow-up.
Diagnosis of dementia was made by a full clinical and neuropsychological evaluation, while cognitive performance was assessed according to five cognitive domains (memory, language, attention-speed, executive functioning, visuospatial perception) and a global cognitive score.
‘Ditch!’ The vitamin supplement that raises cancer risk [INSIGHT]
Visceral fat: The drink to shed belly fat ‘quickly’ [TIPS]
The hot drink associated with the development of cancer [ADVICE]
Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was evaluated from a detailed food frequency questionnaire.
What did the researchers learn?
A total of 62 incident dementia cases occurred during a mean of 3.1 years of follow-up.
Individuals in the highest adherence group, had a 72 percent lower risk for development of dementia, compared to those in the lowest one.
In addition, analysis of cognitive performance as a function of Mediterranean diet score revealed that the biennial cognitive benefit of a 10-unit increase in Mediterranean diet score offsets the cognitive decline associated with one year of cognitive ageing.
“In the present study, higher adherence to MeDi was associated with a reduced risk for dementia and cognitive decline in a traditional Mediterranean population,” the researchers concluded.
What’s in the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Greece, Italy and Spain.
It varies by country and region, so it has a range of definitions. But in general, it’s high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.
You can make your diet more Mediterranean-style by:
- Eating plenty of starchy foods, such as bread and pasta
- Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables
- Including fish in your diet
- Eating less meat
- Choosing products made from vegetable and plant oils, such as olive oil.
The Mediterranean diet is very similar to the government’s healthy eating advice, which is set out in the Eatwell Guide.
The guide shows what foods are needed for a healthy, balanced diet and how much you should eat of each food group:
- Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- Base your meals on starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta – choose wholegrain versions where possible
- Eat some beans or pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including two portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) – choose lower-fat and lower-sugar options
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
- Drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day
- If consuming foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar, have them less often and in small amounts.
“You do not need to achieve this balance with every meal, but try to get it right over the course of a day or even a week,” notes the NHS.
Symptoms of dementia include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping
- Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
- Being confused about time and place
- Mood changes.
Source: Read Full Article