Many weight loss and eating fads keep emerging and disappearing. However, one diet continues to show positive effects on human health- the Mediterranean diet. A recent study adds to this by revealing that people who use this diet protect themselves from dementia.
What is a Mediterranean diet?
German researchers found that the Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, fish, and olive oil, promotes healthy aging of the brain. It can also prevent the build-up of harmful proteins in the brain, one of the primary causes of Alzheimer’s disease- the most common type of dementia.
On the flip side, scientists say that feeding on vast amounts of red meat, sugar, and fat-rich foods ages the brain severely. These results come from an analysis of what study respondents ear and their cognitive abilities.
To be specific, researchers studied abnormal proteins known as Amyloid and tau. Tau proteins can huddle together and fold to form tangles that disrupt normal brain functioning. Amyloid, on the other hand, Amyloid is a protein that can cluster together and form harmful plaques in the brain. Both problems are common with Alzheimer’s patients.
Apart from fish and vegetables, the Mediterranean diet includes a high concentration of fruits, legumes, monounsaturated fatty acids like olive oil and cereals. People who use this diet limit their consumption of dairy products, saturated fatty acids, and meat.
The researchers conducted brain scans on over 500 participants and required them to recollect their foods in the previous month. The team then analyzed the data to rank how strictly each participant had adhered to a Mediterranean diet on a scale of 0 to 9.
What the scores mean
Participants needed to have often eaten healthy foods like fruit, fish, and vegetables and only occasionally ate red meat to score the total marks. The results revealed that a decrease in each point on the scale was equivalent to a whole year of brain aging.
Dr. Tommaso Ballarini from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases says that the study suggests that eating a diet high in fish, unsaturated fats, fruits and vegetables, and low in meat and dairy could reduce your chances of developing dementia later in life.