Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Mediterranean Diet

Dr. Duckworth ran across this note and thought it worth passing on, particularly to those wondering about mental acuity and vitality in the elder years:


Posted 11:00 a.m. Tue., Feb. 17 - The aging brain has been in the news lately. We recently covered the effects of a reduced calorie diet on cognitive function (it appears to help). Now, a trio of studies sheds even more light on the subject. First: Elderly adults with no evidence of dementia who follow a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. In the elderly who are already afflicted with mid cognitive impairment, following the diet leads to a significantly reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a report published in the February issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Included in the study were 1,393 cognitively normal subjects (average age 76.7) and 482 subjects with mild cognitive impairment (average age 77.5) who were then followed for over four years. Compared to those with the lowest Mediterranean diet adherence, those who began the study without cognitive impairment in the middle and highest levels of diet adherence had a 17 percent and 28 percent lower risk, respectively, of developing mild cognitive impairment. In the mild cognitive impairment group, those in the middle and highest levels had up to a 48 percent lower risk of progressing to Alzheimer's disease compared to those with the least adherence.

"Possible biological mechanisms underlying this association remain to be investigated," the authors wrote. In the meantime, some tweaks to your diet wouldn't hurt… A Mediterranean diet is rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, olive oil and a touch of red wine.

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