Preventing Alzheimer’s disease may be as simple as sipping the wine and passing the olives, according to a new study in the Annals of Neurology. In a 4-year study of over 2000 Americans, adherence to a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in dairy and meat products translated to a decreased risk of contracting Alzheimer’s – up to 40%.
The Mediterranean diet is gaining in popularity, and many studies are proving its ability to ward off many degenerative diseases. Piling your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and whole grains, using olive oil as your main fat, and reducing your intake of other meats and dairy products, can help prevent or reduce the severity of heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and some cancers. This latest study looked at the usefulness of a healthy, low-saturated-fat diet in preventing the onset of mild cognitive impairment, as well as a diagnosis of full Alzheimer’s. The results were unequivocal. People who followed some aspects of the Mediterranean diet had up to 20% less risk of mental impairment; those who strictly adhered to healthy eating had up to a 40% reduction in both mild impairment and Alzheimer’s. In other studies the Mediterranean diet has shown to lessen the severity and progression of already established disease.
What is the Mediterranean diet? In a word, simple:
Lots of fruits, veggies, grains, beans, nuts and seeds, as unprocessed as possible
Olive oil as the principal fat, replacing butter and other fats
Some cheese and yogurt daily, but not too much
Fish and poultry as the main proteins
Limited sweets and desserts
Wine daily, in moderation
You can find out more at http://www.oldwayspt.org/med_pyramid.html.
Why does this diet help? New research shows that decreased brain function, and the onset of Alzheimer’s, may be a result of the brain’s reduced ability to clean itself out as we age – excess proteins get left behind, cluttering things up and serving as toxins, eventually breaking down our brain cells. The Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on unsaturated, ‘good’ fats, helps limit cholesterol clogging, and reduce inflammation in tissues – in effect, it helps the body to better take care of itself.