A PenCLAHRC project showing that eating a Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of dementia has been reported in the Western Morning News as part of Dementia Awareness Week.
The systematic review, conducted by Dr Ilianna Lourida and Professor Jo Thompson-Coon of PenCLAHRC's Evidence Synthesis Team, brought together evidence to conclude that a Mediterranean diet could help to protect the ageing brain.
A Mediterranean diet typically consists of high consumption of plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and olive oil, moderate consumption of fish and dairy products, and reduced intake of red meat and processed foods. Moderate alcohol intake, usually wine, during meals is another common characteristic.
Dr Lourida said:
"The Mediterranean diet is highly nutritious, and our systematic review shows it may help to protect the ageing brain by reducing the risk of dementia. While the link between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and dementia risk is not new, ours is the first study to systematically analyse all existing evidence. Robust clinical trials are now needed to confirm these observations."
The review found 12 eligible pieces of research; 11 observational studies and one randomised control trial. In nine out of the 12 studies, a higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with better cognitive function, lower rates of cognitive decline and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. However, results for mild cognitive impairment were inconsistent.