Mediterranean diet prevents mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease

What you eat plays a huge role in every aspect of your physical health. Why shouldn’t it play a huge role in your cognitive health as well? This huge, new study shows that it does. And it shows what you need to put on your plate.

One of the healthiest, most studied diets is the Mediterranean diet. That delicious diet is loaded in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, beans and olive oil. It is low in meat, eggs, dairy, sugar and saturated fat and moderate in fish. It can also include moderate red wine.

Several studies have shown that that diet is as good for your brain as it is for your body. An early review of five studies found that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s by 33% (J Alzheimers Dis 2014;39(2):271-82). A more recent study found that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with better cognitive function, specifically, people who more closely followed the diet had significantly better verbal ability. The study found a key role for eating more green leafy vegetables and less red meat (Experimental Gerontology December 2020;142:111117).

In October 2021, a systematic review and meta-analysis really established the Mediterranean diet as a diet for cognition. The eleven studies included in the meta-analysis showed that more closely following the Mediterranean diet significantly lowers your risk of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease (J Clin Med. 2021 Oct 10;10(20):4642).

And now a new systematic review and meta-analysis seals the deal and really puts the Mediterranean diet on the cognitive map!

The new review included 26 studies that followed a group of people over time (cohort study) and 2 controlled trials.  

The cohort studies found that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of mild cognitive impairment by a statistically significant 25% and Alzheimer’s by a statistically significant 29%. The controlled studies looked at effects on cognition and found that the Mediterranean diet significantly improves working memory, episodic memory and global condition.

These studies provide strong evidence that eating a healthy diet is as good for your brain as it is for your body.

Front Nutr. 2022; 9: 946361

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