According to new research, the Mediterranean diet may help to preserve cognitive functioning during the aging process. Bystrictin explains the new findings and notes the ways that the diet differs from other nutrition regimes.
A study released on April 30 examined the effects of the diet on cognitive abilities. The study included an examination of 17,478 Caucasian and African-American participants. The participants had a mean age of 64.
The subjects provided dietary information to confirm how well they were following the Mediterranean diet. These participants ranked their compliance with the diet on a 1 to 10 scale.
For roughly four years, the memory abilities and thinking skills of the participants were assessed. During that period, 7% of the participants developed some form of impairment to their cognitive functioning.
Healthy participants were divided into two categories based on their adherence to the diet. The top half of dieters were 19% less likely to develop thinking and memory problems during the course of the study.
According to researchers, the study definitively proved that diet is among the “modifiable activities” that can help to preserve cognitive skills during the aging process.
The director of Alzeimer’s disease studies at the University of Colorado medical school noted that the study appears to confirm that the Mediterranean diet could boost cognitive health.
Study researchers noted, however, that it is unlikely that the diet could improve the functioning of individuals who already suffer from cognitive issues. As one researcher noted, the abundance of risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease may trump the benefits of the omega-3 acids gained from the diet.
The study did not consider how the diet could affect the onset of dementia. Long-term trials would be necessary to confirm whether the diet allowed participants to evade the cognitive disease altogether.
An assistant professor of neurology at the University of Athens notes that there are no existing treatments guaranteed to impact the onset of conditions of cognitive impairment. Therefore, he concludes, modifiable lifestyle factors (including diet) are very important if they may delay symptoms of dementia and similar conditions.
The assistant professor noted that engaging in exercise, refraining from smoking, and avoiding obesity may all contribute to stronger mental functioning in later life. He added that accurately medicating hypertension and diabetes are essentials to ward off cognitive degeneration.
The Mediterranean diet has gained popularity and press because it offers an unconventional approach to dieting, avoiding calorie-counting or blatantly cutting carbs. Weight loss aid professionals at Bystrictin note that hunger frequently sabotages the efforts of dieters.
As the Bystrictin weight loss pros note, calorie restriction can result in lower feelings of satisfaction following a meal. Extreme hunger leads to “cheating” on a diet, and consequently reduces the effectiveness of the regime.
Mediterranean dieters aim to eat healthy portions of nutritious foods, including whole grains, olive oil, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and herbs. Dieters gain omega-3 fatty acids by eating fish or seafood two or more times per week. Chicken, eggs, and cheese are eaten in moderation, while red meat is avoided almost entirely. The diet allows the consumption of red wine in moderation.
Bystrictin weight loss pros note that, like most nutrition regimes, the Mediterranean diet encourages dieters to engage in healthy exercise to supplement their eating habits.
New research on cognitive functioning adds to existing bodies of work linking the diet to heart health and healthy weight maintenance.