The People's Perspective on Medicine

How to Delay Dementia with a Mediterranean-Style Diet

Older people who eat a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fish, vegetables and legumes may be able to delay dementia and stay sharp.

Could a Mediterranean-style diet help preserve cognitive function in older individuals? Research from Minnesota suggests that eating pattern might help delay dementia, even though Rochester, MN, is far from the Mediterranean.

The Mayo Clinic scientists examined data from 672 older people who were healthy and had no cognitive impairment in 2004, at the start of the study. The volunteers answered extensive questionnaires about their eating habits and took a battery of cognitive tests. The researchers also got multiple MRI images of each participant’s brain so they could evaluate the structure and how that might relate to diet.

Managing a Mediterranean-Style Diet in the Midwestern US:

Dietary patterns were analyzed to see if they included fish, legumes, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and healthy fats as the Mediterranean diet does. Those whose diets most resembled the Mediterranean pattern scored higher on the tests and had a thicker cortex in most regions of the brain.

Because this is an observational study rather than a randomized controlled trial, the authors don’t claim that there is a causal relationship. They do suggest, though, that elderly people (and maybe the rest of us) might do well to boost their intake of legumes, vegetables and fish and minimize the amount of simple sugars and refined carbohydrates they eat.

Alzheimer’s & Dementia, online July 23, 2016

If you would like to learn more about how to follow a Mediterranean-style diet yourself, you may be interested in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies, which has a specific description and a number of recipes. To delay dementia and stay sharp as long as possible, you should also get regular exercise and avoid medications that can impair cognitive function.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Keep up the great work/research that you do, Joe and Terry

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